PILOT MOUNTAIN — One type of music from the area’s past ushered in a centennial celebration at Pilot Mountain State Park Saturday, and another brand of music, also rich in history, closed the evening.
Pilot Mountain and state parks across the state were celebrating the 100th anniversary of North Carolina’s state parks system on Saturday, and at Pilot Mountain visitors enjoyed a long list of activities.
Moravians were some of the first European settlers in the area, according to Park Ranger Jesse Anderson, who led a program on the Little Pinnacle Overlook which began at 8 a.m.
Anderson read from the first-hand account of a Moravian settler, who described the mountain as a beacon which provided a little hope and some navigational aid to settlers traveling south on the Great Wagon Road. Those settlers were headed to North Carolina in the 1700s with the blessing of the British Parliament to start a new colony.
“One main reason they came was to practice and spread their religion,” said Anderson, noting the many Native Americans in the area provided an audience for such a mission.
“They had a goal to influence the Native Americans — to teach them the word of their God.”
According to Anderson, one of the first Moravian settlements in Surry County — then part of a much larger Rowan County — was at the base of Pilot Mountain. It’s also believed a stone quarry was operated by the Moravians living at the mountain.
Anderson’s history lesson was followed by a performance by a group comprising a Moravian brass band. The group played for about 20 minutes.
Max Brady, of Winston-Salem, said the group toting tubas, trumpets and other instruments was less a band and more a group of guys who gathered for Saturday’s event. Much like the original Moravian settlers, the group considers it their mission to spread the word of God — through music.
“We consider it part of our ministry,” said Brady, before noting there are many Moravian churches in the area.
He said when the call for a Moravian brass band went out, it took only a thumbing through a Moravian Church directory to gather the group of local musicians.
Following the celebration of the area’s Moravian history, the park held a fishing derby.
Youngsters of all ages turned out for a chance at catching one of the catfish stocked in a pond on Boyd Nelson Road. Prizes including tackle boxes and fishing rods went to youths who took part in the fishing derby.
The Friends of Sauratown Mountain led visitors on a six-mile hike around the mountain in the afternoon.
Though the threat of inclement weather forced a relocation from the Little Pinnacle Overlook, the evening concluded with another musical performance straight from the area’s history books.
A dulcimer band played at a pavilion near the pinnacle after a program about the history of state parks in North Carolina.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.