[by Kelly Kazek] On our early first anniversary trip to North Carolina last weekend, Sweetums and I went for the purpose of visiting the Land of Oz on one of only two weekends it is open each year. Click here to see the amazing photos of Oz, a long-abandoned theme park.
On the last day of our three-day trip, we decided to meander home at a leisurely pace and detoured to visit The Blowing Rock. (In this case, “the” differentiates the name of a rock that is the state’s oldest tourist attraction and the quaint town that bears the name of the attraction, Blowing Rock, NC. I’ll write about the town later).
STORY & LEGEND CONTINUE AFTER GALLERY. (Copyrighted photos/permission required for use)
The Blowing Rock is a wave-shaped cliff that hangs over Johns River Gorge. It is known as the Blowing Rock because, on certain days, lightweight items such as leaves or blades of grass thrown over the edge at 4,000 feet above sea level will blow back to the person who threw them via strong wind currents. Because of this, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not dubbed it: “The only place in the world where snow falls upside down.”
The Blowing Rock website says: “The phenomenon is so called because the rocky walls of the gorge form a flume through which the northwest wind sweeps with such force that it returns light objects cast over the void.”
To access the attraction, we parked at a quaint stone visitors center and gift shop just a short distance from a major highway through town and paid $6 each to enter. After two days of hiking, we were surprised to learn the rock was just outside the back door of the center. My aching calves and I were relieved this walk was a short one, although the site does include a short nature trail that leads to another small cottage filled with historical photos, signs and advertisements from The Blowing Rock, and then to an observation deck with majestic Grandfather Mountain visible across the gorge. Visitors can actually climb out on the rocks and have their photos made 3,000 feet above the gorge but use caution.
What kind of attraction would it be if it didn’t have a legend? Here is an excerpt of the legend from TheBlowingRock.com:
“One day [a Chickasaw] maiden, daydreaming on the craggy cliff, spied a Cherokee brave wandering in the wilderness far below and playfully shot an arrow in his direction. The flirtation worked because soon he appeared before her wigwam, courted her with songs of his land and they became lovers … One day a strange reddening of the sky brought the brave and the maiden to The Blowing Rock. To him it was a sign of trouble commanding his return to his tribe in the plains. With the maiden’s entreaties not to leave her, the brave, torn by conflict of duty and heart, leaped from The Rock into the wilderness far below. The grief-stricken maiden prayed daily to the Great Spirit until one evening with a reddening sky, a gust of wind blew her lover back onto The Rock and into her arms. From that day a perpetual wind has blown up onto The Rock from the valley below.”