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August 01, 2014

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The town of Blowing Rock has been a top small city in North Carolina. File photo

Originally published: 2014-04-24 08:26:44
Last modified: 2014-04-24 08:32:21

Town in Top 17

By Sherrie Norris

Blowing Rock and Boone have been named two of the Top 17 Small Cities in North Carolina in the March edition of Cities Journal.

According to its website, Cities Journal is a bimonthly publication that offers a broad scope of articles on characteristics of urban policy. It also provides an international and interdisciplinary platform for the exchange of ideas and information between urban planners.

‘The city of Daniel Boone’

Described in the journal as “the city of Daniel Boone,” Watauga’s county seat is one that “having kept its quaint, small city appeal” still attracts visitors from all over the United States.

Its success is “due to its four-season playground,” the review reads, “as tourists can find some type of activity and entertainment during every season of the year.”

Boone is also referred to as “an outdoor adventure destination,” in which people can find something to do along the mountain ridges or within the town itself to make them visit, year after year.

“You can’t grow up without hearing tales of the pioneer and frontiersman Daniel Boone who trail-blazed his way across the countryside,” the review added. “It is often said that he (Boone) occasionally camped in the area, which is how the city got its name.”

It also referred to the fact that “every year since 1952, a dramatization of the life of the settlers and Daniel Boone is performed in an outdoor amphitheater for visitors of all ages.”

The acknowledgment included data regarding Boone’s current population of 17,100 people, and that “residing along the Blue Ridge Mountains, the city of Boone was also named one of the “10 Best Places To Retire in the United States” in 2012 by U.S. News.

‘The city of windy cliffs’

Blowing Rock, described in the publication as “The City of Windy Cliffs,” was also referred to as one of the places one must visit “if you are looking for the ultimate small city.”

Citing its population of “only 1,190 people,” the journal said that Blowing Rock has so much personality “that there should definitely be more people living there.”

Noting that Blowing Rock, located in both Caldwell and Watauga counties, saw Scottish-Irish pioneers settling in the town in the 18th century, the “real tale begins,” the writer said, “with the Cherokee and the Catawba tribes located in the area that were enemies to each other, as two star-crossed lovers found love along the windy cliffs, which is how the city came by its name.”

The feature included the fact that “as the city gained in popularity, people would travel up to Blowing Rock from Lenoir to enjoy the cooler mountain area as it quickly became a tourist attraction.”

Today, people still visit the windy cliffs of Blowing Rock, the journal said, “as they enjoy the abundance of outdoor activities,” and further described it as “a favorite place for a romantic getaway, people go rock climbing, whitewater rafting, hiking, kayaking and tubing.”

An additional note of interest included this closing statement: “You truly haven’t seen the great North Carolina scenery without taking a hot-air balloon ride through Blowing Rock as the quaintness of the town will make this city your secret vacation destination spot year after year.”

“There is just something about North Carolina that makes people want to visit and live there all year round and makes it so attractive to visitors,” the writer of the article said.

Referring to the small North Carolina cities “that dot the area with their rich history and appealing recreational activities,” the report said,  “many came upon the map due to the first railroad winding its way along the mountain foothills.”

Instead of fading away into ghost towns that are barely noticed as people drive past, the article said, “These towns continued to thrive despite their small populations as they have built strong community ties, affordable housing, great schools, tons of recreational activities and tourist attractions.”

In addition to Boone and Blowing Rock, the Top 17 Small Cities in North Carolina include, alphabetically: Apex, Beaufort, Black Mountain, Brevard, Chapel Hill, Clemmons, Garner, Hendersonville, Lenoir, Marion, Morganton, Morrisville, Tryon, Valdese and Wake Forest.

Cities Journal is a product of Elsevier, described by the company as a world leader in providing interesting information through scientific, technical and medical books and journals.

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For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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