A Colorful Past…

 

The Legend…

For nearly a century, this old building has been a haven for travelers and locals alike serving up food and spirits, entertainment and folklore, and one of the finest views of the Blue Ridge anywhere. Throughout ownership by several families and now home to Canyons, it has long been one of the High Country’s favorite hot spots. “Officially” established circa 1936 as The Bark, it has existed as a speakeasy, a brothel, a dancehall, a casino, a grill, a grocery, a tavern, and a restaurant and bar. An early sign out front simply read “Chicken, Dumplings and Fish Bait.”

“The Bark, by far the most popular spot on the mountain, no matter what someone might tell you, has a dance each Saturday evening with a script of 75 cents. Then you can dance here any night to music made by dimes inserted in an electric gramophone. The dance ends and the beer stops at 1:30 but you can stay and eat all night. You’ll see hundreds of Appalachian College summer students here from over Boone way!” (excerpt from The Blowing Rocket’s feature on Blowing Rock night life, 1938)

Although Watauga had always been a “dry” county, bottled liquor and moonshine could always be found. Residents of the Green Park Community would frequent The Bark on their way into town for lunch or to pick up a few “necessities.” Locals in-the-know would often direct affluent tourists to The Bark for some souvenir ‘shine. The white lightning was mostly transported from Wilkes County, and contributed to the birth of one of today’s most popular spectator sports… NASCAR Racing. Evidence of trap doors, cubbyholes and “secret” rooms large enough to load a vehicle still exist in the building today. During the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, when State officers would raid the establishment, those inside would jump out a back window, shimmy down a ladder, and escape into the deep woods extending into the gorge. Officers would confiscate or pour out the illegal mash and close the doors; but before they reached Raleigh, the “business” would be back up and running.

Blowing Rock’s ABC store opened in the late 60’s, and once again, the establishment changed hands. Upstairs, the Big Dollar served as Blowing Rock’s only grocery and Holly’s Tavern served beer in the lower level of the building. Holly’s eventually moved upstairs, and the grocery and tavern continued to serve Blowing Rock and surrounding communities well into the 1980’s. In the late 80’s, liquor-by-the-drink finally passed the vote and new ownership opened The Emporium restaurant. In 2001, the bar and restaurant re-opened yet again under new ownership as Canyons, where the tradition continues until this day, except, of course, for the moonshine…

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8960 Highway 321 • Blowing Rock, North Carolina • Lunch & Dinner Daily 11am until...
All ABC Permits • Reservations suggested for parties of five or more • 828-295-7661