Five (More) Charlotte History Facts

 

Charlotte is a city rich in history. Please read the first article in this series if you haven’t already titled “Four Things You Didn’t Know About Charlotte’s History.” Here are five (more) facts about Charlotte.   

 

  1. Do you know where the NBA Hornet’s nest logo comes from? It dates all the way back to 1780, when General Cornwallis led the British army into Charlotte, but left quickly due to the feisty local patriots. Cornwallis (supposedly) called Charlotte a “Hornet’s Nest of Rebellion.” In 1892 the city named the local baseball team the Charlotte Hornets. Later, the nest was put on the sides of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police cars. In 1974, the Charlotte Hornets became the city’s first professional football team. Finally, in 1988, the Charlotte Hornets became the city’s first NBA team.  
  2. Bet you didn’t know that Charlotte Motor Speedway sits on the former site of a working plantation. President George Washington even had lunch in a house that used to be where the speedway’s offices are located. It stayed in operation during the Civil War. In 1959, the speedway was designed and built by O. Bruton Smith, with his business partner, the late stock car racing star Curtis Turner. 
  3. Before California and the gold out west, this area was the one of the first gold rushes of the United States. In 1799, 12-year-old Conrad Reed found a large yellow rock on his family’s property. The rock turned out to be a 17lb lump of gold. Today the Reed Gold Mine is a museum with restored mine tunnels and hiking trails. Visit in April through October and you can pan for gold yourself! 
  4. Homer the Dragon is Charlotte’s oldest mascot. Before it was official, and before even Hugo the Hornet who emerged on the scene with the Charlotte Hornets basketball team in 1988, Homer was there. Hugo lost his position as longest-standing mascot when he was temporarily ousted by Rufus the Bobcat of the Charlotte Bobcats in 2004, leaving Homer with the title of oldest, continuous mascot. 
  5. Charlotte is known as the Pimento Cheese Capital of the World (a title it argues over with Raleigh-Durham). Our very own Ruth Salad’s produces over 45,000lbs of it every week.

 

Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21

Five Charlotte History Facts

 

  1. Stand on the intersection of Trade and Tryon in Uptown Charlotte and you’re standing at the birthplace of trade and commerce for this area. But it isn’t what you think. A large group of Loyalists (colonists who were still loyal to King George) decided to colonize the area that would become Charlotte because it was already the intersection of two Native American trading paths. These paths are now, you guessed it, Trade St and Tryon St.  
  2. Did you know the original branch of the United States Mint was actually located in Charlotte? This was back in the gold standard days and in 1837, when The Charlotte Mint opened, it created more than $5 million in gold currency. During the Civil War, it was used as a hospital and military office for the Confederate government. In 1931, when the building was set to be demolished, a group of citizens came together to have it moved to its current location in Eastover and turned the building into the Mint Museum Randolph—the state’s first art museum! 
  3. The Ballantyne neighborhood almost had another name. See if you can guess what it was going to be, based on the story. The development was first reported on in 1991.  The area was farmland along the city’s planned outer belt. The plan was to transform 1,756 acres of mostly undeveloped land in south Mecklenburg County into offices, shops and residences in a community of 10,000 to 12,000 people. The second choice, “Ballantyne,” was also of Scot-Irish origin. Figured it out yet? It was almost named “Edinborough.” 
  4. Ever wondered why our downtown is actually called “Uptown”? The Native American trading paths (now Trade St and Tryon St) was the highest elevation point in the city, so everyone had to go up to reach this point. Hence. . . Uptown. This never faded, but it wasn’t until the 70’s that the City Council decided that the shopping and business district in the center city area be officially declared “Uptown Charlotte.”  
  5. The “Queen City” nickname comes from the name of King George III’s wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

 

Would you like to go on a tour of some of the locations mentioned below? Feel free to contact me if you’re interested in checking them out in person!  

 

Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21

Four Things You Didn’t Know About Charlotte’s History

  1. A whole world exists below the surface of Lake Norman. The lake was created in 1963, after Duke Energy flooded the area using water from the Catawba River and the land already contained homes, businesses, cemeteries, a plantation, cotton mills, mill villages and large machinery, the remnants of which still remain at the bottom of the lake.  
  2. The legend, if you believe it (Thomas Jefferson didn’t) is that we were the first to declare independence from Great Britain. The story centers around a document called The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, and the story is the city leaders signed the document—declaring their separation—on May 20, 1775.  
  3. Regardless, the city celebrates the “Meck Dec” every May 20th. We celebrate Meck Dec Day, and even past presidents have come to celebrate the day. In addition, if you go to the corner of Fourth Street and Kings Drive, there is a statue of Captain James Jack on his way to deliver the Meck Dec to Philadelphia. According to legend.   
  4. Uptown isn’t the only place where a historic Native American trail ran through Charlotte. The Tuckaseegee Trail, once ran through the current location of the U.S. National Whitewater Center property and led to the Tuckaseegee Ford, the oldest crossing point along the Catawba.  

 

Please feel free to share related stories with me, if you want, by shooting me an email. You can find my contact info here.

 

Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21