By Bob Heafner © 1985-2012
Issue: July, 1985
This month our BACKROADS tour will begin and end at the junction of highways 181, 105 and 221 in the beautiful mountain community of Linville, North Carolina. We will travel rugged mountain BACKROADS which offer spectacular views and out-of-the-way points of interest we're sure you will enjoy.
Our entire tour will require approximately three (3) unhurried hours and will cover a total of 29.9 miles from beginning to end.
BACKROADS tours always make a complete loop back to the point where we started. The underlined numbers at the beginning of each paragraph indicate the total number of miles we've traveled from our point of beginning. The numbers in parenthesis ( ) indicate the distance from the last point of interest that we passed.
From Boone, North Carolina we will travel south on Highway 105, our point of beginning is at the junction of highways 105, 221 and 181 in Linville. By all means, bring your camera, but this is one BACKROADS tour where a picnic basket won't be necessary.
00.0 (0.0) At the intersection of Highways 105, 221 and 181, we will turn right onto 181 toward the North Carolina communities of Montezuma and Newland. The Linville Post Office will be on our right after we make this turn.
01.9 (1.9) This is Montezuma, North Carolina.
03.7 (1.8) We are now entering The city limits of Newland, North Carolina.
04.4 (0.7) At this stop light we will turn right onto highway 194 north.
04.5 (0.1) This is the first stop light we encounter after turning onto 194 and here we will turn left onto state road 1157, which is known as the Old Toe River Road.
05.6 (1.1) Here we cross a narrow bridge.
06.4 (0.8) The Toe River is on our left here.
(0.1) At this point, we will cross a one lane bridge over the river. The pavement ends just beyond the bridge. 06.5
07.8 (1.3) Here we turn left onto state road 1163 (Ivey Heights Road).
08.6 (0.8) There is a pretty view to our right here and, to give you some idea how crooked this road is, in a moment it will become a pretty view to our left.
09.2 (0.6) There is a beautiful view to our right.
09.5 (0.3) From this high vantage point one can see towering blue mountains ahead and the profile of Grandfather Mountain can be seen in the distance.
09.7 (0.2) At this stop sign, we will turn right onto state road 1141 (Chestnut Dale Road).
10.6 (0.9) Here we cross a small bridge.
10.9 (0.3) At this stop sign, we will turn left onto state road 1193 (Old Squirrel Creek Road/ Chestnut Dale Road).
(0.1) At this stop sign, we turn right onto state road 1138 (Squirrel Creek Road) and then immediately cross a narrow bridge. 11.0
12.4 (1.4) Here we turn left onto state road 1121 (Licklog Road).
14.6 (2.2) At this stop sign, we turn left onto state road 1114 (Big Plumtree Creek Road/Stamey Branch Road).
15.2 (0.6) Here we cross a one lane bridge over a small but pretty creek.
15.7 (0.5) As we approach this next one lane bridge, look to your left at the beautiful waterfall. This is known as Fall Branch and is truly a picturesque spot.
15.9 (0.2) On our left at this point is the old Slippery Elm mica mine. Today it resembles an underground lake more than a mine but years ago mica was mined here There is another mine just up the mountainside above this one. Years ago, this area was a prime source of mica and many mines were in operation.
(0.8) The small house on the left here belongs to Marie and Carl Bailey. Elderly Mrs. Bailey recalls the days when the mines here-abouts were in operation, but "now they're all closed down." 16.7
17.0 (0.3) At this intersection, we-turn right and cross another one lane bridge over Plumtree Creek.
17.4 (0.4) We go right at this intersection.
18.0 (0.6) At this stop sign, we turn left onto state road 1114 (Stamey Branch Road).
20.5 (2.5) At this yield sign, we will turn right onto highway 221 and 194 south.
20.7 (0.2) Here we turn left onto state road 1525 (Camp Creek Road).
21.1 (0.4) Here we turn left into the parking area at Weld House, a place where history and time can be savored. Harris Prevost over at Grandfather Mountain told me about The Weld House several months ago and highly recommended the home-style meals served here, but quite frankly, my expectations were not prepared for the genuine old fashion atmosphere and hospitality I found. This place is definitely a page out of history.
In the years just prior to the turn of this century, George and Candice Weld ran a general store and post office a short distance from here on the main road to Spruce Pine, North Carolina. In those days, travelers were hard put to find overnight lodging and it soon became a custom for the Weld's to take folks in for the night. Preachers and teachers stayed free, but drummers and other travelers were charged a small fee for their room and board.
Before long, Grannie Weld's hospitality and good food resulted in many of the travelers returning, often with their entire family, to spend several days or weeks relaxing in the quiet atmosphere of the Weld home. By 1900, the visitors had increased to the point that additional lodging was required, so another house was built beside the two story Weld residence. In the early 1920's, another two story house was built and it was connected to the Weld residence by a wide front porch.
Today the front yard shade trees are much bigger and George and Candice Weld are gone, but Alvin Pyatte, grandson of George and Candice Weld, and his wife Irene, are carrying on the family traditions of serving good food and making folks feel at home during their stay at The Weld House. Alvin was born in an upstairs bedroom in 1914 and one can sense his commitment to his family and their traditions as he relates The Weld House story from an easy chair on the wide front porch.
Visitors and guests to The Weld House need not expect the ordinary meal or accommodations. Granny Weld set a standard that her heirs are proudly carrying on today. A three acre garden provides potatoes and other fresh vegetables, which guests are served in season, and also fills the freezers with corn and beans. Each year, between two and three hundred quarts of apples are canned and four to five hundred jars of jelly are "put-up."
Breakfast is served at 8:00 am, lunch at 12:30 everyday (except Sunday when it's served at 1:00) and dinner is promptly at 6:00 (except Sunday when no evening meal is served). Don't expect a fancy menu, because there's not one. The tables are set and filled before any of the guests are called to eat. When everything is ready, a hand held dinner bell announces it's ready, and the anxious guests file into the dining room from the wide front porches.
A typical Sunday lunch includes fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, apple sauce, fresh tomatoes, homemade yeast rolls and strawberry shortcake made from homemade cake topped with strawberries picked the day before.
Many of the guests are regular visitors returning year after year to relax in the easy atmosphere of The Weld House. A good example of a satisfied guest would be Mrs. Corest from St. Augustine, Florida, who first visited Weld House in 1921 and returned every year until the early 1980's, when she passed away at 96 years of age.
Now for the surprise! Turn of the century prices. For one week, "room and board" at The Weld House, guests are charged $90.00. This includes all meals except Sunday dinner. One night lodging and three meals are $20.00. Meals, such as the Sunday lunch described earlier, are $5.00 each if you're not an overnight guest, but you must call and make reservations to enjoy this feature of The Weld House.
Over the years, The Weld House has been woven into the memories of countless visitors to this area. One couple, Emmett and Pauline Dunnam were so impressed they wrote the following poem for their hosts:
The Weld House
There it stands
beyond the stately trees
A haven for the weary
In the gentle breeze.
The things that you are seeking
Are here if you but look.
You have to study them to know them
Like in a story book.
It's inhabitants are special
Each one has a special cast
To portray the gentle blending
Of the present with the past.
Cool breezy porches
And it's gentle sloping lawn
Seem to say "Come tarry,
Why must you hasten on?"
Time has dealt with it most kindly
It has aged with gentle grace.
Many guests aptly describe it
As a most relaxing place.
Gracious living? You can't beat it
Simple beauty? Yes indeed.
If relaxing is your worry
This is all you'll ever need.
If you find your way to this tiny mountain community of Altamont, North Carolina and time can be found in your schedule, then by all means stop at The Weld House. If you're lucky, Mr. Alvin will be on the porch and you can hear first hand how he helped "flag out" the path for the Blue Ridge Parkway across the gap to Humpback Mountain or tales he's heard of a vast vein of gold that's hidden beneath Grandfather Mountain. His gentle laugh and easy smile are as much a part of The Weld House today as the biscuits and yeast rolls that his wife Irene serves to their guests.
When you are ready to leave The Weld House, we will head back the way we came on state road 1525 (Camp Creek Road).
21.4 (0.3) At this stop sign, we will turn right onto US 221 and 194 north.
22.7 (1.3) A North Carolina state forest nursery is on our right.
23.3 (0.6) We are entering the city limits of Crossnore, North Carolina.
26.5 (3.2) At this stop sign, we will turn left onto US 221 and 181 north. This is the Pineola community.
29.2 (2.7) We are now entering Linville, North Carolina.
29.9 (0.7) We are now back to our point of beginning at the junction of highways 105, 221 and 181 in Linville, North Carolina.
We hope you have enjoyed this month's tour as much as we have and our special thanks to Harris Prevost of Grandfather Mountain for telling as about The Weld House.