Tar Heel Trek: Davidson County


Continuing along the North Carolina piedmont, Davidson County is worthy of a pitstop. Founded in 1822 and named for Revolutionary War General William Lee Davidson, Davidson County is home to many unique and historical sites.

North Carolina is well known for it’s barbecue, but none is quite like the kind you get in Lexington–defining its own category, “Lexington-style barbecue.” Home to many of the great barbecue restaurants —Stamey’s, Speedy’s, Lexington BBQTroutman’s–Davidson County knows its ‘que. In fact, since 1984, Lexington has hosted the Lexington Barbecue Festival, one of the biggest barbecue celebrations in the state, which sees more than 100,000 visitors every year. bbq25_hmpg

Thomasville, known to many as North Carolina’s “Chairtown,” is a national furniture-making center and comprises one of the major industries in Davidson County, accompanied by textiles and tobacco. The town, named for legislator John W. Thomas,  welcomed  its first chairmaker, David Westmoreland, when he moved his shop from Forsyth County in the mid-1850s. He began the first chair factory in 1879, soon followed by many others. The importance of the industry to Davidson County was symbolized by the construction of “The Big Chair” in 1922. Thirteen feet tall–the world’s largest–it was later replaced by an 18-foot-tall steel reproduction in 1949. The oversized chair in Thomasville, symbol of Davidson County’s world famous furniture industry.

Uwharrie National Forest is home to many incredible plants, birds, and hiking trails that are sure to thrill even the most intense nature junky. The 20.5-mile figure-eight Uwharrie Trail offers a variety of habitats from open fields to high rocky ridges of pine and hardwoods where Wild Turkey, raptors and songbirds might be spotted. Creeks offer additional habitats for woodland bird species.

Davidson County also offers Boone’s Cave Park , a 100-acre site that offers hiking trails through a rolling forest of mixed hardwoods. It is here that Daniel Boone is rumored to have hidden in order to escape Native Americans.

Now if you are in need of something sweet after a meal at Lexington Barbecue, Carrie Blair of Davidson County offers you a little banana pound cake to round off culinary sampling of Davidson County. “This was passed down to me from a girl I used to work with at Old Dominion Freight Line,” said Blair. “I’ve had this recipe for at least twenty years. I make it quite a bit, and everyone likes it.”

Here it is:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup shortening

2 3/4 cups sugar

5 eggs, beaten

3 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon banana extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter, shortening, and sugar. Add the eggs and milk; mix well. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in thirds, beating well after each addition. Add the flavorings and bananas. Blend until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 min or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.


For more information on food, facts, history, architecture, and nature around North Carolina, be sure to check out:

Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue, by John Shelton Reed & Dale Volberg Reed

The North Carolina Gazetteer: A Dictionary of Tar Heel Places, by William S. Powell

The North Carolina Birding Trail: Piedmont Trail Guide

A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina by Catherine W. Bishir & Michael T. Southern

Sweet Carolina: Favorite Desserts and Candies from the Old North State, by Foy Allen Edelman