HISTORY OF WALNUT COVE
Walnut Cove is in the southern part of Stokes County. The family of William Lash settled here in 1883 and the town was named Lash in his honor. The Lash home place is located where the Martin Luther Mitchell family now resides. The town of Lash was changed to Walnut Cove in 1889. The name came from a cove of walnut trees near Town Fork.
Around the turn of the century, the railroad ran through the community. Cape Fear, Yadkin Valley, and North & Western were the main railways that traveled through the area. Yadkin Valley Railways is now located in Rural Hall. Trains brought travelers that helped Walnut Cove to expand. Passengers stayed several days on the way to health spas “to take the waters.” Piedmont Springs and Moore’s Springs were very popular during the 1900’s. People came from all over North Carolina to visit the spa. With people traveling to this area the need for hotels was great. Walnut Cove had three hotels at this time. The Vaughn Hotel, Dodson Hotel, and the Central Hotel. The Dodson was built in 1912. Advertisements stated “lights, heat, sewer, and baths.” Today it is vacant. However, the structure can be seen beside the Shell Station on Main Street. Central Hotel was built in 1913. The people who rented rooms got “meals for 25 cents”. This building was in the area of Western Auto.
The school year was only four months long in 1910. Children went to school only during the winter months because they were expected to help on family farms. Winter sports were much like they are now, sledding, snowball fights, and building snowmen. The winters were times to relax after working hard all summer. In the summertime, families went on picnics, played croquet, horse shoes, checkers, basketball, baseball and card games such as Setback, Rook and Bridge. Baseball was played on a large field on Highway 65. You may know this place as Hedgecock Builders Supply. The men of our community were the only ones that played golf. Because of the trees and lack of open spaces, they played in Martin Luther Mitchell’s cow pasture. Restaurants played a large part in social life. People got together with friends, family and neighbors to fellowship and socialize. Some popular places to meet were; Grace Woodruff’s Tea Room, Sanders Pig, Crutchfield Ice Cream Parlor, Moonlight Inn, Hilltop House and Friendly Cafe. During 1946, Willis and Kathleen Vernon bought Friendly Cafe and built on the same site. Many of you have probably been to the restaurant, Vernon’s Grill. Willis Vernon still runs his grill and enjoys talking to people. Another family event was going to the movies. A company called “The Chataugua” was the first to have moving pictures in Walnut Cove. They were not shown in a theater. People stood in the street and watched silent movies on the outside wall of the Old Farmers Union Bank. The first inside movie was in a garage that J.J. booth bought. Mr. Booth built a modern theater in 1947 named The Palmetto. This is still here. It is used for the License Bureau and Merchants Association.
The next time you are traveling through Walnut Cove take the time to look at the town itself. Think about how things were in this place we call home. We might be the past, but our children are the future.
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