Give holiday guests a Scotland County tour

By: Cory Hughes - Focus on Scotland

As the end of the year rolls around, I’m sure many folks will have friends and family coming to town to share in the holiday season. Once the initial hugs and “catching up” take place, the conversation inevitably turns to, “what should we do today?” – in fact, I’m already fielding calls.

In entertaining out-of-town guests, I would suggest visiting locations which showcase and celebrate our heritage. From the Scottish Heritage Center to the John Blue House, to the Old Laurel Hill Church, several locales present our history wonderfully.

In showing our town, I would suggest you take in the following. Start at the North Carolina Rural Heritage Center and the John Blue House. The house and grounds are a reflection of living in the rural Carolinas in the 19th century. A magnificent example of Steamboat Gothic architecture, the century-old John Blue House provides a glimpse into an important part of Scotland County’s past – the culture of the rural Carolinas. John Blue, Sr. built the house entirely of heart of pine lumber from trees on the grounds.

The home, nestled in a grove of pecan trees, is the centerpiece of a collection of post Civil War homesteads telling the story of a different time in the region. And don’t miss the cotton gin and press, also of antebellum vintage, as well as one of the few original tobacco barns still standing in the Carolinas.

Located across the street from the John Blue house is the Museum of Agriculture and History. Formally the Museum of Scotland County, the exhibits range from farm equipment, to automobiles, to early textile machines that Mr. Blue helped invent.

Sharing the building is the Indian Museum of the Carolinas. This museum, highlights artifacts not just of the Lumbee tribe, but Native American artifacts from around the country.

The Rural Heritage Center including the John Blue House is managed by the Scotland County Historic Properties Commission and they can assist in making sure you get the most out of your visit. They are under “winter hours” so please call ahead: {910} 277-2456.

From the Rural Heritage I would head to the Scottish Heritage Center. Located on the campus of St. Andrews University, the Center provides insight into the settling of the area by Highland Scots. Bill Caudill is the director and can provide more insight than I ever could. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected]

From there I would give you two options: One, I would head to the Old Laurel Church in Laurel Hill. This church was one of the few to invite slaves to worship openly with them and also the first church where freed slaves were welcome. It played an interesting role in the Civil War and provides an exhibit of its past.

Alternatively, or maybe in addition, I would head out a bit south of Laurinburg to visit the Stewartsville Cemetery. While cemeteries are not for everyone, this one dates back to the

Revolutionary War and is one of the few burial grounds that honors blacks, whites, and Native Americans alike.

Finally, reserve time for five other stops that will allow you to take advantage of our unique landscape.

One is Cypress Bend Vineyards. Owned by Dan and Tina Smith, the vineyard features 11 different muscadine table wines, an after-dinner vintage, Chardonnay and Syrah – all at a sprawling farm that has been family-owned since 1807. The grounds are beautiful and the vineyard is open for tastings and tours. They also hold Jazzy Fridays every week.

The second stop is the St Andrews Equestrian Center. The Center is world-renowned for the quality of its mounts and its riders. Numerous events and competitions are held each year. The Equestrian Center is open by appointment and there are stands for spectators to watch practice. Contact the center for more specific information. 910-276-7771

If being part of the outdoors is more your style – you can take advantage of over 150 miles of bicycle trails in the county or paddle down the Lumber River. You can put in at Chalk Banks in Wagram (open Thursday – Sunday).

Finally, take advantage of our connection with the Golden Knights Parachute Team. These Army daredevils practice out at the Maxton Airport and civilians are welcome to watch them as they “return to earth.” Practice is held most days from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

There is truly something for everyone in Scotland County and so many things of which we all can be proud to show off to our visiting family and friends. For more information on these and other tourism attractions visit

I hope you have a safe and Happy Holidays. We will see you after the New Year!!

Cory Hughes

Focus on Scotland

Cory Hughes, executive director of the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority, wrote this week’s Focus on Scotland, an effort by community leaders on making Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to work, live, and play.

Cory Hughes, executive director of the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority, wrote this week’s Focus on Scotland, an effort by community leaders on making Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to work, live, and play.