DOBSON — Did you know that Pilot Mountain isn’t the tallest point in Surry County? Those on the Rockford-Dobson Familiarity Tour learned that the tallest point in the county is actually Fisher Peak at 3,750 above sea-level.
As part of a Hospitality Academy, the class, called “What’s there to do around here?” was sponsored by the Small Business Center of Surry Community College and yesterday was hosted by Susan Coble, coordinator of the Small Business Center and Terri Cockerham, the director of occupational extension programs at SCC.
So far groups have toured Mount Airy and Pilot Mountain. On Wednesday a group of people who work in the tourism industry and others took the tour that featured Rockford and Dobson. The group met at Fairview Baptist Church in Dobson and watched a short video about how tourism affects North Carolina, then boarded a bus that took them to Rockford.
On the way to the town, the bus stopped by Stony Knoll Vineyard, but since it was closed, those on the tour just saw it from the bus. When the group reached Rockford, they were given a tour of the Rockford Inn Bed and Breakfast by Hannah Holyfield, owner of the inn and president of the Rockford Preservation Society (RPS).
The group got a chance to walk through the inn’s three bedrooms, kitchen and living room. Holyfield pointed out the timbers of the old two-story log cabin on one of the walls as the group prepared to descend the stairs in the main part of the home. She said she and her husband painstakingly restored the logs and the clinking.
Holyfield continued the tour with a stop at the Rockford Methodist Church. She explained how just last week, the society worked to repaint the bell tower on the church.
The home once belonged to Evenlyn Holyfield who taught schools in the Surry County School System for 42 years and formed the RPS in 1972.
Another point of interest along the tour was the Rockford Courthouse that was gutted by fire in 1925. It is now a private residence.
Those on the tour were allowed to walk through the old Rockford Masonic Lodge 251. The lodge closed in the 1930s when members suffering through the Great Depression were no longer able to pay their dues, Holyfield said. The lodge merged with the Copeland Masonic Lodge after that.
The group then toured a couple of buildings including the Rockford General Store. Holyfield also pointed out the remains of the Grant-Burrus Hotel which is now a picnic area. She said the hotel burned in 1974. The RPS eventually completely burned the structure at a later date, brought the chimneys down to a safe height and used the bricks to build the platform for the picnic area to match the footprint of the old hotel.
Holyfield invited everyone on the tour to come out for the second annual Rockford Reunion that will be on Sept. 30.
The tour continued to the Hampton Inn at Shelton Vineyards where Curtis Largen, the general manager, showed the group around the hotel. He said that hotel is the only Hampton Inn to have a tasting room on site. He also showed the group the meeting rooms, the workout area, the pool and one of the guest rooms. Those on the tour oooh’ed and aahh’ed over the shear size of the room and its shower, which can hold up to 13 people.
The group then headed to Kapps Mills to see the waterfall and the old mill. The bus then took them up River Road that runs along the Mitchell River. They even encountered a group working on stream preservation along that river.
The bus then took the group through downtown Dobson and back to its point of origin. The entire tour took about three-and-a-half hours.
Rick Smith, who is a docent at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, said he enjoyed the tour.
“It’s a historic place and I’m delighted to see that the Rockford Preservation Society is hard at work. It’s ongoing and I’m so pleased with that,” said Smith.
The one thing that surprised Smith about the tour was seeing the clear water of the Mitchell River.
“I’ve never been up that road and seen that house. I’d never seen that before. I was very interested in the conservation work going on up there,” said Smith.
He said one of his favorite stops on the tour was the Hampton Inn at Shelton Vineyards.
“I’d never been there before and it was neat find out about the excellent accommodations that they have,” said Smith.
Pilot Mountain Commissioner Carolyn Boyles was also on the tour. She said she loved visiting Rockford.
“I enjoyed Hannah’s tour of the Bed and Breakfast and going in the old Masonic Lodge.
“As a child, my mother used to bring me to visit her Aunt Mag, who was the last resident of the old Masonic Lodge. I used to play around that place and went down the railroad track and played around there. It was fascinating to me after all these years to go back to that place and go inside where Aunt Mag Schwartz had a general store and she lived upstairs,” said Boyles.
She said she was also impressed with the Mitchell River.
“I had no idea we have a place like that for trout and flying fishing right here in Surry County, right in our backyard. All these tours have been very educational for me to know we as residents in Surry County don’t know what we have. What a wealth of activity we have right here in our own county,” said Boyles.
Coble said she was pleased with the turnout and the mix of people who took the tour Wednesday.
The next tour is set for Sept. 14 and will meet at The Pilot Center in Pilot Mountain at 8:45 a.m. To sign up for that tour, contact Susan Coble at 386-3685 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Mondee Tilley at email@example.com or at 719-1930.