Experience an Early 1900s Farm in its Heyday
Museums are great for preserving works of art, artifacts, gemstones, historical records. But to preserve a way of life, particularly agricultural life, you need a working farm.
Horne Creek Farm in Pinnacle, near Pilot Mountain, preserves what life was like on a farm in the Piedmont of North Carolina around the turn of the 20th century. Staff members and volunteers plant crops, do chores, bring in the harvest and prepare for winter the same way the Hauser family did here more than 100 years ago.
“When Horne Creek was started in 1987, very few living-history farms focused on the turn of the century,” says Lisa Turney, site manager. “It was a really transitional date for North Carolina agriculture.”
The farm — now an official State Historic Site — focuses on the years 1900-1913, before the state’s tobacco boom. In 1913, R.J. Reynolds mechanized rolling cigarettes, and although tobacco was grown before then, it took off from that point forward.
Before tobacco was king, apples were a leading crop. Horne Creek Farm’s Southern Heritage Apple Orchard contains approximately 400 different varieties of apple trees. Once the personal collection of Lee Calhoun and his wife, Edith, the trees were a donation to the farm. Each fall, the apples ripen in a variety of hues and flavors. Visitors can tour the orchard by appointment.
“Ninety-nice percent of people don’t realize that there used to be tens of thousands of varieties of apples,” Turney says. “Just in the South, there were 1,800 different varieties. A lot of trees we have in the orchard are the only known trees to exist of that variety.”
One reason the farm was selected as a living history site was the good condition of its structures. Today’s visitors see an 1880 farmhouse with period furnishings, a well/wash house, fruit house, smokehouse, double-crib log feed barn, tobacco-curing barn, corncrib, and a reconstructed fruit and vegetable dry house. After an orientation at the visitor center, visitors may wander the grounds on their own or take a guided tour. Group tours are available with advance notice.
Each October, Horne Creek hosts its largest event of the year: the Cornshucking Frolic. What was once a community event to help a neighbor harvest corn is now a historical celebration of agricultural traditions.
“We use it to showcase 50 heritage activities,” Turney says. “It has everything from a sorghum syrup demonstration to quilting, dancing, beekeeping. It’s our biggest day of the year.”
Apples and apple tree seedlings from the heritage orchard are also available for purchase.
Numerous programs take place throughout the year to demonstrate seasonal farm activities. To learn more and plan your visit to Horne Creek Farm, click here.
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