North Carolina is a small town located in the northeast corner
of Lincoln County, in west central North Carolina. Yes, there
really is a Denver in North Carolina! And it has a rich history.
for Denver dates back prior to the Revolutionary War, when the
Catawba Indians lived on the banks of the river which still
bears their name, as does the next county to the north. Between
1747 and 1749, some of the pioneers who came to settle the area
were Adam Sherrill with his 8 sons, and John Beatty. They settled
along the banks of the Catawba near shoals in the river, where
it was shallow enough to cross with a horse and wagon. The crossing
points were called "fords" and names such as "Sherrill's
Ford" and "Beattie's Ford" are still in use today.
Denver was originally called "Dry Pond"
because of the swampy area, and residents wanted to make the
area sound more attractive. They thought it might hamper chances
for a railroad line with the name "Dry Pond", so they
asked the local school principal, D. Matt Thompson to suggest
another name. Colorado was being considered for admission to
the Union in 1873 and Denver was the territorial capitol. Mr.
Thompson suggested changing the name "Dry Pond" to
"Denver" to make the area sound more appealing and
improve chances of obtaining rail service. In 1877, Denver was
officially incorporated in the State of North Carolina. But,
despite the efforts, the railroad decided not to bring a line
through the newly named town. Without the hoped-for growth,
the small town didn't even have the revenue to maintain its
There is a rail line which runs on the outskirts
of Denver today, but there is still no service to Denver, and
the only nearby stop is for delivering coal to the Duke Power
In 1971, the small town of Denver lost its incorporated
status, when the State rescinded the charters of several small
towns. But, by and large, local residents do not want the town
to be incorporated again.
Denver sits on the west side of Lake Norman, the
State's largest lake, created 1959-1964 by damming up the Catawba
River. Denver is a half-hour's drive or so north-northwest of
Charlotte, which is known for several major NASCAR races. The
speedway itself and the majority of the teams are located in
the surrounding area, including a few shops in Denver. Charlotte
also has NBA and NFL teams, cultural centers, theaters and is
now the second largest financial center in the United States,
with branch offices in other countries too.
known for the historic Rock Springs Camp Meetings, Denver hosts
annual religious gatherings which have continued for over 200
years, and since 1830 at the Rock Springs Campground, just outside
the center of town. Although it has grown, Denver is still a
small town, but especially in the summer, is becoming a very
busy place, as people come to the lake from elsewhere, to the
camp meetings, or are just on their way through from Charlotte
to towns farther up the highway.
The 2-lane N.C. Hwy. 16 through Denver is a more
direct route from Charlotte to many other towns than the interstate,
and a new limited access highway is in the works which will
allow through traffic to pass by the town a few miles to the
Many significant Revolutionary War events took
place in the Denver area, including the Battle of Cowan's Ford.
The actual location of the battle, a few miles south of town,
is now underwater because of the Cowan's Ford Dam which created
Lake Norman. Memorial markers in the area acknowledge the brave
folks who fought and died for America's independence.
Also, Lincoln County and the county seat of Lincolnton were
named for Revolutionary War Major General Benjamin Lincoln (1733-1810)
who presided over the British surrender at Yorktown. He also
served as Secretary of War under George Washington.
It is quite interesting that Denver, North Carolina adopted
the name of a city that didn't even exist when people lived
in the Denver, North Carolina area, and fought in the War for
Independence! As the sign on the south side of town says, Welcome
to "Denver of the East".
A special thanks goes to:
Art Northrup, Jr.
for editing and correcting this text.
Lincoln County Government
County Sheriff's Office
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