Most people that grow up in North Carolina have visited Blowing Rock at one time or another in their lives. Along with Tweetsie Railroad and the “mile high swinging bridge” at nearby Grandfather Mountain, Blowing Rock is a popular destination for anyone that visits the Blue Ridge Mountains.
But few people know the story behind Blowing Rock.
As a child I once stood on the observation deck at Blowing Rock and wondered if the stories I had heard were true – that if you tossed your hat off the rock that the wind would return it to your hands. I decided to take a chance and removed my brand new engineer’s cap that my mom had bought me at a gift shop at Tweetsie Railroad and gave it a toss, reluctantly, into the valley below. To my surprise, the hat was returned to me by the wind. Well, almost. It didn’t exactly return to my hands, but was instead blown into the face of an innocent bystander fifty or so feet down the walkway. Red-faced with embarrassment, I quickly apologized and my beloved engineer’s cap was returned to me where it stayed tucked in my back pocket until we got back to the car.
It is said that the wind blows up from the valley below with such a steady intensity that in the wintertime the snow blows up past Blowing Rock instead of falling down from above. As with any folktale in North Carolina, especially one borne in the mountains, there is a story behind the wind.
The story goes that two young Native American lovers, knowing their love was forbidden since their tribes were about to go to war with each other, met at the rock and swore to each other that their love would transcend the coming fight between their people and conquer all, as true love often does. But when the red sky signaled the start of the war, the young man made a horrible decision. Facing the shame of not returning to fight with his tribe, or the heartbreak of leaving his true love, he chose instead to jump to his death into the valley below.
But all was not lost. As the young girl watched her lover jump from the rock, she quickly prayed to the spirits of the mountain for his life to be spared. Legend has it that the wind, blowing steady and strong up from the valley below just as it continues to do this day, returned her lover to her arms.
So if you ever find yourself in the Blue Ridge Mountains, pay a visit to Blowing Rock. You can even bring a hat and test the wind’s ability to return it to you. But if I were you, I wouldn’t trust the wind any farther than that, as a young maiden once did hundreds of years ago.