• Tracy Newsom Garner's father (right) in the family's jewelry store, with a customer and employee. The jewelry store was a longtime fixture on Main Street in Troy. Photo courtesy Tracy Newsom Garner. 

    Tracy Newsom Garner: Love and loss (of a small, local business)

    Newsom’s Jewelers was a fixture on Main Street in Troy for almost 50 years.  Tracy Newsom Garner’s grandfather moved from High Point to start the business in 1952, following in the footsteps of his brothers, who’d opened jewelry stores in Salisbury and Denton.  His son, Charles, worked alongside him and took over the business when he died in 1972.
  • Ron and Nancy Bryant on their farm in the Uwharries. Photo: Jeff Michael

    Ron and Nancy Bryant: From activism to stewardship

    As Ron’s retirement approached, they turned to the faith that had brought them together and prayed for a sign to guide them to the right tract of land.  They found it along the banks of the Pee Dee River in Stanly County, as the flight of an eagle formed the shape of a cross.   Now called 3 Eagles Sanctuary, this 170-acre tract of forest and farmland is being managed for wildlife habitat and sustainable agriculture.  Ron and Nancy have gone from being activists to stewards.
  • Chappell Russell Foley's dog store in the former Hotel Troy is called Twilight Bark. Photo courtesy Chappell Russell Foley

    Chappell Russell and Justin Foley: Trying to recreate the South End lifestyle in a rural town

    Chappell Russell and Justin Foley were living the millennial dream.  They met at Appalachian State.  He worked for a large CPA firm in uptown Charlotte.  She helped run a small dog-training business.  They had an apartment in South End.  On weekends, they walked their dogs Oliver and Indie on the Rail Trail, stopping at breweries and local shops like the Canine Café.
  • Danny Alderman (center) enjoys hunting in the Uwharries. Photo courtesy Montgomery Herald.

    Danny Alderman: Beyond the bedroom community

    Danny Alderman puts 1,200 to 1,400 miles on his truck each week.   As the general superintendent of North Carolina projects for Branch Builds, he oversees about $250 million worth of work across the state, including schools in Cabarrus County and Indian Trail — as well as the rare project close to home, the new high school in Montgomery County. “I’m in such a rat race during the day,” he said.  “That’s why I choose to live in the Uwharries.” 
  • Jerry and Jackcine Laughlin in front of the remnants of a hearth on their family's historic property. Photo: Jeff Michael

    Jerry and Jackcine Laughlin: Maintaining family ties to the land

    The land at this particular crossroads in southern Randolph County has a storied history.  It once belonged to Miles and Healy Lassiter, and some of it still belongs to their descendants, including Jerry Laughlin.   Miles was born into slavery circa 1777, but apparently this status wasn’t fully enforced.  At the time of their marriage circa 1810, Healy was a free woman of color who already owned land in the area.  Together, they eventually held 400 acres, a vast estate in a mountainous area inhabited by small-scale subsistence farmers.  
  • A mowed yard, traditional fence posts, managed grasslands and a small, forested mountain. For many, the landscape is a vital part of what makes the Uwharries home. Photo: Ruth Ann Grissom.

    Rural by Choice: Navigating identity in the Uwharries

    The narrative around rural areas has often held that people need to leave for a better chance to find success, typically in the city. But for many, leaving the place they love and call home never really feels like an option. Here are seven stories of people who are turning that narrative on its head. 
  • Ashli Stokes, Jeff Michael and Jeff Gillman stand near the planned trail outside the new Urban Institute offices.

    UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens’ Historical Trail to interpret cultures

    An outdoor, living exhibit on its way to the UNC Charlotte campus will tell the story of North Carolina through plants and crops crucial to the state’s development.
  • Charlotte suburbs grow faster as developers seek cheap land

    Development has been sprawling. Places that were once rural now seem urban. Take Fort Mill, S.C., whose population, according to the American Community Survey, has nearly doubled since 2010. Many small towns have grown into bustling suburbs as developers search for large tracts of land to build residential communities. As the population grows, low-cost land and high volume are necessary to meet the regions demand for single family housing.
  • A 2.2-mile section of Carolina Thread Trail weaves through a 358-acre permanently conserved area that’s protected by Catawba Lands Conservancy (CLC) within the Girl Scouts’ Dale Earnhardt Environmental Leadership Campus at Oak Springs in Iredell County. The trail is called Girl Scouts, Hornets’ Nest Council Trail. Photo: Nancy Pierce

    Forging connections across the Carolinas – one greenway, trail and waterway at a time

    Natural aesthetic appeal, increased economic vitality, a reason to leave your car behind, a walking and biking connection between communities in two states: Organizers hope to deliver all of that, and more, through the growing Carolina Thread Trail network of greenways, waterways and trails.
  • Paddlers on the South Fork of the Catawba River, which was once an industrial powerhouse when Gaston County was a major player in the textile industry. Photo: Nancy Pierce.

    From textiles to trails: A river’s changing path to prosperity

    Cramerton’s mills are long gone, as they are in most of the small towns that depended on textiles for generations. But Cramerton and other former textile towns are embracing the South Fork for what they hope is a new economic spark: outdoor recreation