Rutherford County is my home. This 243 year old county with its rolling hills, mountains, valleys and flatlands stretches across 563 square miles. Some of the best people in the world have made and still are making their home here in the foothills of the mountains. Within a finger’s reach of the Blue Ridge Mountains, bordering the foothills, we who call this our home are among the most blessed.
I never cease to be amazed at the people I meet each week who have moved here from another part of the country and are glad they made the move.
At my high school’s 52nd class reunion — The Class of 70 turns 70 —so many young aspiring high school and later college graduates left the county for jobs, families for life elsewhere.
But for me, I remained and am never bored with the sights of the rolling pasture lands of Cane Creek and the mountains of Golden Valley and the Sunshine community. There’s Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, Green Hill and Gilkey; Cliffside, Forest City, Rutherfordton, Spindale, Ruth, Ellenboro and on and on.
I was raised here, went to school here and chose to stay here after graduating from East Rutherford High School and attending Isothermal Community College.
Since I’ve never lived anywhere else, I can’t compare this county to another, but I’ve seen lots of other places, visited many states and heard stories of others. I don’t think you have to live in another person’s yard to know where the grass is greener.
At our class reunion we talked about school days, then our careers and families. Of those attending, only a few are still working full-time. Others retired full-time and are enjoying the best life ever.
And although no longer a full-time journalist at a newspaper, I told my chums I was a regular contributor to Rutherford Weekly, The Mountain Breeze and other periodicals when needed.
I told my friends I have the best of both worlds. I still have the honor of writing stories about some of the most wonderful people in the county on my own time.
It is an honor to tell the stories of people here.
Working full time, I spent weeks and years — if you add all the time together — in the Hickory Nut Gorge sharing stories and photographing scenery and people.
I was there during the flood of 1996. Every day for a week after the flood, I journeyed from the newspaper office in Forest City to Lake Lure and Chimney Rock. There were so many stories to be told. We featured a different story every day. These were my people, the hard working natives and newcomers who settled here to work in the tourist area.
When the Rocky Broad River Walk was built and later washed away, I was there for the highlights of both events.
So many of the stories in the Gorge became a large part of my story. The people became my family. We cried, we celebrated, we loved and buried some of our dearest friends over the years as we shared their stories.
The old timers, the blue and white collar workers, the young people, middle-aged folks, the happy and sad, the healthy and not so-healthy.
There have been so many people who contributed so much and thanked so little.
I think of the behind-the-scenes of people in the Gorge area and across Rutherford County who work tirelessly for the success of the people and towns.
We have all changed and nothing ever stays the same, but one thing has remained a sure with me — this is my home and I am thrilled to share stories of the people here.
Rutherford County is changing and we hope for the good. There are new parks, new trails, new downtown revitalization projects, new entertainment venues and a whole lot of new people.
Rutherford County is beyond blessed with the most generous, and loving people in the world- just like you who have decided to claim this area as home.
Maybe you have a story you want to share. Send me a message. I enjoy getting on the road again. Contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rutherford County, North Carolina is my home.
Jean Gordon is an award winning journalist having spent 49 1/2 years at The Daily Courier in Forest City and at the Rutherford County News.