It’s easy to fall in love with Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, with all of the Southern charm, a variety of sports teams to cheer on, an abundance of breweries, arts, restaurants, and of course, 70 degree days in February. But what is truly unique and beautiful about our area is its rich history. How can you love and appreciate something if you don’t know its past? And that is exactly what you’ll find along the Trail of History and the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. While many may think that the city is young and new, it is actually 250 years old. Sure you can visit one of the many museums in the area (and you should!) to learn more about local history, but you can enjoy a Cliff’s Notes version and enjoy some spectacular spring weather along the greenway!
The Trail of History is a collection of privately subsidized sculptures memorializing the men and women who made an impact on the history of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The trail will stretch through the Urban Section of Little Sugar Creek Greenway, running south from 7th Street at Central Piedmont Community College to Morehead Street. The trail was established in 2005 when the Little Sugar Creek Greenway Action Committee asked Dr. Dan Morrill and a group of local historians to recommend a list of key people who made a significant difference on the development of Mecklenburg County. Currently, there are six statues on the trail. When it’s complete, the trail will feature 21 figures.
So who are these historical figures? You may not recognize the names immediately, but all of the figures on the trail have played some part in shaping our community. The historical committee members have a criteria that each of the memorialized persons must meet. Members are committed to ensuring diversity and a representation of the many different eras of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s 250 year history are reflected on the Trail. It was only appropriate that the first statue to be erected upon the trail was Captain Jack, who is famous for his ride to Philadelphia carrying the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and set of resolves to the 1775 meeting of the Continental Congress. It is believed that this declaration was signed on May 20th of 1775, the day we now recognize as Meck Dec Day.
This spring, James B. Duke will be the seventh statue to be unveiled on the trail. In the fall of 2016, an announcement was made for the eighth statue, Julius Chambers; his statue will be the third minority figure along the Trail of History. Chambers was a civil rights leader who founded one of the south’s first interracial law firms in Charlotte. That firm is still active today.
Other figures include William Henry Belk, whose statue was unveiled in May of 2015. Thomas Polk, Thad Tate, Jane Wilkes, Thomas Spratt and King Haigler are among the other historical figures that are helping put a face on the history of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County along the Trail of History.
Don’t recognize all the names or their place in history? Resist the urge to open up a new browser tab and do a Google search. Visit the Trail of History yourself on the next gorgeous day for an active lesson you’ll really enjoy! You can get to the Trail of History by parking at 1116 Metropolitan Avenue, or 1421 East Morehead Street. The length of the greenway is 1.29 miles, you will not only learn more about where you live but also work up an appetite by getting in your daily steps. Click here for more information on the Trail of History and to plan your visit.