Published 12:00 am Monday, August 29, 2011

GRANITE QUARRY — “Music On The Mountain” was the theme of the day at Dunn’s Mountain Nature and History Preserve Saturday.
It was a breezy afternoon, but the winds didn’t deter a good turnout of bluegrass and old-time music enthusiasts.
Dunn’s Mountain has amazing vistas, providing views of the surrounding area. Staff members Bill Gilland and Bob Peeler greeted visitors and performers as they arrived on the shuttle bus or climbed the nature trail from the parking lot.
Peeler described the history of the preserve with enthusiasm.
In about 1753, Michael Dunn owned about 100 acres surrounding the mountain, which rises to an elevation 1,015 feet. He joined later in a mining venture with his friend Michael Braun to excavate granite blocks from the site. Pink granite was the focal point of the mining, but other colors were also popular. Some of the granite was used in the Old Stone House and also in the streets of Munich, Germany.
The first quarry was dug in 1780. There were eight excavation points throughout the park, producing granite blocks as big as 20 tons. The last mining was done at the site in 2004. At that point, the Land Trust of North Carolina helped purchase the area to establish the park.
“We get close to 5,000 visitors a year,” Peeler said. “On a clear day, you can see 135 miles in each direction except east. East is blocked by the Uwharries. On the best days, Pilot Mountain, Brushy Mountain, Grandfather Mountain, and sometimes even Mt.Mitchell are visible.”
Michael and Gaynell Lambert helped organize the entertainment for the afternoon. Mike is the Dan Nicholas Park naturalist, and he and his wife were the first musical act of the afternoon.
“It is a little more breezy than we want, but we will still have fun,” said Lambert. “What a great setting this is. Jim Foltz asked me to do something on the mountain, so this is our second Music on the Mountain day,” he said.
Making her first trip up the mountain was Bonita Wheeler of Mocksville. She brought her 2-year-old granddaughter, Lexi Shouse, because she loves music. Wheeler’s stepdad, Larry Buchanan, and mother, Virginia from Linwood, often camp at Dan Nicholas Park, and came after hearing about the special day.
The Buchanan’s have 17 grandchildren, including Lexi and 5-year-old Christina Spainhour, and 16 great-grandchildren.
“We love being around the people and the music,” Wheeler said. “It is so beautiful up here.”
Cindy Osterhus made her second official trip to the park. She brought her mom and dad, Kate and Bob Ball, and Kathy Osterhus. Cindy Osterhus loved the view, but has a special appreciation for the area.
“This was a special hangout for us as teenagers,” she said. “We came here often. I love this mountain.”
The park has other attractions, too, according to Peeler.
“The park is free, and people come here for picnics and other outings,” he said. “We’ve had weddings, and that is the only thing we charge for. It is just $100 to help cover our costs.
“We often see animals, including coyotes, red and gray foxes and deer. Visitors are glad to hear that we don’t have any poisonous snakes,” he said.
“Several times a year, we open the gates and take visitors through the fences for trail walks.” The park also has abundant plant life, including cactus.
“A recently added attraction is the Chuck Barringer Blacksmith Shop, which houses a complete array of old tools and other donated items.”
Other performers throughout the afternoon were Jim Gobble, Dry Run Bluegrass, Eden’s Gate and the Snyder Family. Sponsors for the entertainment were Pine Ridge General Store, F&M Bank, Faith Farm and Equipment, Bob and Sara Cook, M&K Bar-B-Q, McCanless Golf Club, Jim Foltz and the Thread Shed.
The Dunn’s Mountain Nature and History Preserve is located at 1740 Dunns Mountain Road. It is a part of the Rowan County Parks and Recreation System.
More information can be obtained at
“We just wanted to honor musicians and music lovers today,” Lambert said. “A special remembrance goes to James ‘Coy’ Pendergrass, who just recently passed away.”
Gaynell Lambert added, “It was wonderful to see so many smiling and singing along.”
Peeler was excited to see a large attendance at the park and a full parking lot. He hopes that many more will come to see the park in the future.
Peeler has lots of information about a gem of Rowan County, and he is glad to share it. It is clear that he loves his work.