The Town of Mt. Gilead
It May Just Capture Your Heart!
Sitting on Lake Tillery and the Pee Dee River, in Montgomery County, North Carolina, is a small but charming town known as Mt. Gilead, with a population of only about 1500 people. Years ago this once booming town was known for it’s production of cotton. Historic Downtown Mount Gilead is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The small town feel and the congenial community, as well as the town’s continuous effort to refurbish the antiquated structures, gives the town a welcoming spirit.
The citizens of the town as well local businesses support the restoration of the town’s historic exterior. Mt. Gilead is utilizing programs that assist in the restoration of historic towns, such as the Small Town Main Street Program administered by the Department of Commerce and The Small Town Economic Prosperity program (STEP) administered by The North Carolina Rural Center in Raleigh. To suitably put forward the town’s rich history, many of the business owners have given their store fronts a wonderful face lift with the help of the façade grant program offered by the town.
The old Ford Dealership in the heart of the town is presently being restored, to house an upscale restaurant and more casual sports bar. Bruce Haywood, the owner and intellect behind the task, is working diligently to restore this building while attempting to preserve as much of it‘s history as possible. One of this old building’s fascinating attributes, is a very interesting old lift / elevator in the rear of the building, that was once used to lift the old Model T’s to the second floor to be serviced. Mr. Haywood plans to salvage and restore this lift, while considering the possibility of utilizing it as a stage for the pub. What an ingenious and interesting idea! “The Ford Place Restaurant & Pub”, (the prospective name of this exciting restaurant and sports bar), would be a great “nineteenth hole” to visit after a rigorous game of golf?
Mt. Gilead may be small but the school system is modern and the business base is strong. This town is home to one of the largest privately owned lumber companies in the United States, Jordan Lumber. Jordan Lumber started in Mt. Gilead in 1939 and remains immensely beneficial to this town.
There are many places of interest to be discovered in Mt. Gilead!
Lake Tillery, situated alongside of Mt. Gilead, offers quite a bit in recreational opportunities to tourists, from hiking and nature hunting to boating, swimming, and skiing. This lake is also a fisherman’s haven, often recounted as one of the more enjoyable places to fish. The quiet atmosphere as well as it’s abundant stock of fish from Largemouth Bass, Striped Bass and White Bass to Crappie, Yellow Perch and Bluegill, lures many a fisherman to this lake. For those that just enjoy the peaceful bliss of nature, this lake is an outstanding find. The tranquil environment of Lake Tillery offers to it’s visitors, nature’s awesome scenery, such as deer feeding on the shore or the sounds of the birds and ducks nearby. Lake Tillery also attracts many Bald Eagles.
Avid golfers might want to consider a visit to Mt. Gilead, as well. The highly ranked par-72 golf course, Tillery Traditions, is not far from town. This course not only offers golfers a challenging round of golf, but it is surrounded by a beautiful and tranquil environment. Additionally, the short distance to Mt Gilead, allows the golfer’s spouses, family and friends that do not want to play golf, the ability to stroll through the town and visit the local antique stores, while waiting for their happy golfer to return. Two enchanting antique stores in town, The Vintage and Mt. Gilead Antiques (a 24,000 sq ft antique mall consisting of many antique dealers) offer some beautiful and true upscale antiques.
One of the most interesting places to visit in Mt. Gilead may well be The Town Creek Indian Mound. The Town Creek Indian Mound is a National Historic Landmark that has been the object of vast studies of archaeologists since the 1950s. This area is considered a landmark where a society of Native Americans once resided, (later referred to as the "South Appalachian Mississippians.") Visitors may well find the remains on this site to be absolutely fascinating. Offered to tourists are; two temples, a burial house, palisade wall, residence and a visitor‘s center. The Town Creek Indian Mound is the oldest state owned and operated historic site in North Carolina.
Mt. Gilead also has Morrow Mountain State Park on one side and The Uwharrie National Forest on the other, both chocked full of interesting things to see and do. Almost 80% of The Uwharrie National Forest is located in Montgomery Co. The recreational opportunities there are vast. The Uwharrie Forest offers activities from camping, hiking, and biking to kayaking and canoeing. And it surely cannot go unmentioned that it is also a hunters paradise.
The Mt. Gilead Museum is another exceptional place to visit. Here, you can learn the rich history of the area. The Museum is located in a beautiful and exceptionally refurbished building just off the main drag and there are some wonderful artifacts as well as a very interesting history to be discovered there.
There truly is much to do in this small but inviting town. The Town of Mt. Gilead is going all out to make their visitors glad they came. From the town’s laudable endeavor to restore it’s history to the cordial and benevolent town people, Mt. Gilead seems to have a lot to offer. Of this town and it‘s people, Earl Poplin, the Town’s Mayor, expressed his passion for Mt. Gilead by saying; “In addition to the outstanding recreational opportunities, the overriding… (attribute) …to this town is a sense of belonging, the sense of ‘community’. … and that is very important.”
Mt Gilead actually does have as a ‘certain charm‘ as well as a feeling of “home”. It seems to have a way of enchanting it‘s visitors, as well! The owners of Mt. Gilead Antiques were just “passing through” Mt. Gilead when they fell in love with the town as well as two of it‘s buildings. Despite the fact that they reside in California, they purchased those buildings and have made plans to settle in this quaint town after they retire. They were TRULY captivated with the town. Mt. Gilead does seem to have quite a bit to offer, …watch out, it may just capture your heart, as well.
Mayor: Earl Poplin
To learn more about The Town of Mt. Gilead, you can visit their website:
This article originally appeared in Father Time Magazine, October 2008, and is reprinted with permission. Please visit http://www.fathertimemagazine.com to read their truly wonderful publication.