Editor’s Note: This article features news and photos from past editions of the Watauga Democrat.
July 13, 1961
At a Parkway Commission meeting in Boone in 1961, it was announced that federal legislation had been approved to study the potential extension of the Blue Ridge Parkway from its southern terminus near Cherokee to North Georgia.
“If the extension were constructed, it would run about 175 miles past some of North Carolina’s mountain waterfalls,” the article in the Democrat stated.
The plans apparently did not come to fruition, as today the southern terminus of the parkway continues to be near Cherokee.
“County Rescue Squad Ready For Operation” announced another article. Capt. R.W. Watkins noted that the new Watauga County Rescue Squad owned a panel truck as well as a boat, outboard motor and resuscitator.
“The Rescue Squad meets each Thursday night at 7:00 o’clock in the Appalachian State Teachers College Physical Education Building, and applications from qualified men are still being accepted,” the article stated.
July 13, 1967
“Site of a second campus?” queried a Watauga Democrat front-page headline in the July 13, 1967, edition.
“Picturesque State Farm near Watauga County Hospital will give Appalachian State University a chance to stretch its legs in the recreation department,” the article stated. “According to Business Manager Ned Trivette, plans are to (move) the football team from the present campus to the farm, where practice areas are to be laid out.”
The university’s athletic field was overcrowded, the article noted, and moving the football team would allow it to practice earlier in the day.
“Trivette says commuting from the campus to the farm will be tried with an eye to enlarging the entire role of the farm,” the article continued. “It was abandoned as a cattle farm in 1964. Since, New River Light & Power Company has been housed there, and some of the barns have been used for storage of surplus materials. It could be that the farm has ‘tremendous potential’ as a full-fledged campus No. 2 ... Trivette says.”
The outdoor drama “Horn in the West” — at the time about 15 years old — featured heavily in the July 13, 1967, issue. U.S. Senator Sam J. Ervin joined with one of Daniel Boone’s younger descendants and members of the North Carolina Press Association at a dinner held at the Holiday Inn by sponsors of the drama. Ervin later addressed the audience prior to a “Horn in the West” performance.
A separate headline read, “Horn in the West Horse Fails to Show at Curtain Time.”
“When old Polly, the ‘Horn in the West horse,’ disappeared one night last week, there was more panic backstage at the outdoor drama than if one of the leading actors had broken a leg,” stated the article, with the author clearly having some fun. “Thanks to a passing truck driver, however, Polly faced the footlights on schedule.
“The nine-year-old farm horse who has been in the Kermit Hunter outdoor drama for the past four years is kept on the theatre grounds during the summer months. But just after intermission last night, she broke her tether and headed for her winter home some four miles away. The truck driver spotted Polly about a mile from the theatre and postponed his haul long enough to lead the horse to a nearby motel.”
The motel owner had the horse returned to the theater with three minutes to spare before Polly’s scene.
July 1, 1976
The July, 1, 1976, edition of the Watauga Democrat was a special bicentennial edition, celebrating 200 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. The edition had stories about the history of Watauga County, including its first people, black history, wars, religion, transportation, education, agriculture and much more.
“When the colonists proclaimed themselves ‘free and independent states’ on July 4, 1776, they were referring to independence of many kinds,” the foreword to the Watauga Democrat stated. “But even though they created separate states, their intentions were not to be independent of each other.
“Their’s was a different time. A time when unity meant livelihood. True, many mountaineers reveled in an independent spirit, but they quickly learned the advantages of being a community.
“In the early days of our country, the community became the backbone of government, of religious activities and naturally of fulfilling social needs. The community became all-important, as the colonists held house raising, corn shucking and even gathered together to get in a neighbors crop,” the article stated.
“As our nation celebrates its bicentennial, community spirit is being revived. Across the nation community activities are commemorating this important national birthday.
“With this in mind, the Watauga Democrat dedicates its bicentennial edition to the community that is Watauga County. Stories inside this special edition concern the people and events that have made our community what it is today. In fact, many of the stories have been written by the members of our community who volunteered their personal experiences and — or research.
“This edition is our way of saying we’re proud of our forefathers, our country and our nation.”