A Village Tapestry - The History of Blowing Rock by Barry M. Buxton
The first recognized European visitor to the Blowing Rock area was the Moravian Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenberg in 1752. At that time, all of Western North Carolina was included in a royal property grant belonging to the Earl of Granville. To encourage settlement, he offered 100,000 acres to the Moravian's, so Spangenberg set out with a survey party to search out the best land.
An old Indian trading path know as the Nickajack Trail ran through the mountains from present-day Hickory, to Lenoir, to Linville, and west to the Nickajack Caverns near Chattanooga, Tennessee. Inaccurate directions from a passing hunter soon led the Bishop's party off any semblance of a trail. Journal entries have been used to reconstruct a probable route up the St. Johns River, overland to the Watauga River Valley, across to the New River, and then out of the mountains by way of the Yadkin.
Anyone who has ever had roadside trouble on the trip to Blowing Rock can read the Bishop's account and take comfort in the fact that it could have been worse, much, much worse.
For company he had "the wolves, which...give us such music of six different cornets, the look of which I have never heard in my life." The uphill journey was agonizing. "Part of the way we had to crawl on hands and feet; come time we had to take the baggage and saddles and horses and drag them up the mountain, for the horses were in danger of falling backward."
Finally their perilous trek was matched by the beauty of the Blue Ridge that patiently awaited them. "Arrived on the top at last, we saw hundreds of mountain peaks all around us, presenting a spectacle like ocean waves in a storm." Unfortunately for the Moravian's, they were not summer visitors. The preceding December 3, 1752, diary entry continues to state, "We pitched our tent, but scarcely had we finished when such a fierce wind-storm burst upon us, that we could scarcely protect ourselves against it. I cannot remember that I have ever in winter anywhere encountered so hard or so cold a wind. The ground was soon covered with snow ankle deep and the water froze for us beside the fire. Our people became thoroughly disheartened."
Bishop Spangenberg settled on a tract of land near Winston-Salem, at Bethabara. A hint of Blowing Rock winter had chased her first prospective citizen far away.