Recognizing National Trail Day, the Wilkes/Surry Chapter of the Overmountain Victory Trail welcomed locals to enjoy ice cream during their Living History Day.
“This is Thomas Jefferson‘s recipe from about the mid about 1780s,” said Mary Bohlen, explaining that the Overmountain Men might not have had ice cream, but it might have been possible.
“The ice would’ve come out of the Yadkin River, but if it the Yadkin River didn’t freeze over, you wouldn’t be having ice cream,” said Bohlen, “but if you think that’s strange, look at some of the old photographs of Elkin back about 1920 when their cars were driving over the Yadkin River when it was frozen over.”
Although the treat might not have been enjoyed by the men who battled at King’s Mountain in October of 1780, visitors to the Overmountian Victory Trail on Saturday were able to enjoy the sweet concoction handmade on site.
“I could sit here and show you pictures of how to make ice cream or I can give you the recipe and I can give you all the history of it, but standing there making it and then eating some of it makes it real,” said Bohlen.
“This is living history.”
That living history was celebrated in a variety of places on Saturday as well as events for trail maintenance all over the country.
“Various trails are hosting events,” said Ben Richardson of the National Parks Service.
As trail manager for the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail as well as chief of Planning and Partnerships as a whole for the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution Parks Group, Richardson was excited to participate in the OVTA Living History Day.
“It’s really great to see the communities get behind it,” said Richardson of the day created by the nonprofit organization, the American Hiking Society.
Richardson was not only excited about the activities available throughout the country for National Trail Day Saturday, but for activities taking place all year long to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System.
“In 1968, Congress passed a resolution to create the National Trail System,” said Richardson.
“What that allowed for is for trails to be created across the United States that had both historic and scenic significance. There’s 30 national trails, 19 of which are national historic trails like [the OVT].”
Some of those trails such as the Pacific Crest Trail out west are managed by the U.S. Forest Service, while others such as the Iditarod are administered by the Bureau of Land Management.
Most, such as the Appalachian Trail and the OVT, are operated and maintained by the National Park Service.
“Our trail, the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, was passed in 1980. We were the first national historic trail east of the Mississippi to be passed in the United States,” said Richardson, “so we have a little bit of significance there, which is cool.”
The coolest part is that such a significant part of American history runs right through Elkin.
“A part of our country is formed because of this area, which is very neat,” said Richardson.
“So what we’re doing is trying to talk to [people at events] about the Overmountain Victory Trail and trying to bring awareness about what communities have right in their backyard — both with recreation, you can get some good exercise along the Overmountain Victory Trail, but then also the historical significance that’s right in these communities which is a really neat thing.”
The National Parks Service also hopes people will have a better understanding of how parks are funded and maintained, including how important the partnerships are that make the trail systems possible.
“Most of them are partnership trails and so we have to work with land owners, municipalities, counties, state governments to be able to get those land sections linked up to be able to have trail on the ground there,” said Richardson, “so it’s actually really a beautiful partnership that starts with the federal government and it moves all the way from private land owners, all the way through states, cities, counties.”
Some of those representatives attended the Living History Day festivities including the Beverly family who granted access for the event enjoying the well-strung songs of drinks and soldiers while tasting the hard-made ice cream.
“We’re having fun,” said Bohlen. “[Living history is] putting to feet your dream. You’re putting to feet your passion. You’re making history come alive.”
Bohlen stated a larger event is planned to coincide with the March to Kings Mountain in the fall.
More information about the National Parks Service can be found at www.nps.gov.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.