Morrow Mountain draws generations of visitors
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With water-related activities such as hiking, camping and other recreational opportunities, Morrow Mountain State Park has drawn generations of visitors.
"Being the third oldest state park in the system, we've got people bringing their grandkids,” said Ron Anundson from Morrow Mountain State Park. “They've been coming out here for twenty, thirty, forty years.”
Morrow Mountain is the tallest peak in the Uwharrie mountain range, rising from a plateau near Albemarle.
“These are erosional remnants that were hundreds of millions of years in the making,” said Anundson.
Morrow Mountain tops out at 936 feet now, but there was a time that the Uwharries were among the loftiest places on the planet.
“Some people speculate that elevations one time were over 20,000 feet,” said Anundson.
The mountains, located near the spot where the Yadkin and Uwharrie rivers join to form the Pee Dee are sometimes called the cradle of civilization for North Carolina.
"This is one of the first areas in North Carolina settled by people, again, at least 12,000 years ago,” said Anundson.
Morrow Mountain is comprised of rhyolite rock, which formed when magma cooled far underground.
“They were buried under thousands of feet and over 300 million years, you've had erosional processes that have exposed it,” said Anundson.
The hardness of the rock was a key attraction for the first people who settled in this area.
“Native Americans, at least 12,000 years ago, found this rock was great for making tools,” said Anundson. “You'll find rock from the Uwharrie mountain region has been found from Maine to Florida. It was likely an important trade item.”
Through the ages, Morrow Mountain and vicinity has been popular.
That extends from the Native Americans to Scotch-Irish immigrants to a busy ferry used by revolutionary war soldiers to development as a state park by the civilian conservation corps.
“We have a cultural history that's unlike any of the other North Carolina state parks,” said Anundson.
Most visitors to the park concentrate on recreation, but there are numerous natural and cultural elements available for them too.
Anundson has been here for 21 years, and he says hardly a day goes by that he doesn’t learn something new about the place.
“It's something you could study for a lifetime, if you chose to,” he said.