HISTORY, CULTURE, ARTIFACTS, EXHIBITS
Much of our heritage stems from our natural resources, especially water. Like many other southeastern communities, Rockingham County’s history is linked to Native Americans and European explorers, who were drawn to the rivers.
Today, there are relics along the county’s rivers that provide a glimpse into the lives of those early people. This area is the only place in North Carolina where you can see remainders of historic bateau boat systems. (These boats were used in the 19th century for commercial river transportation and considered the 18-wheelers of that era.)
We have two history museums, historic districts, houses and buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a 19th century tavern, sites on the NC Civil War Trail, an annual music celebration for a local bluegrass pioneer, and tours of the Karastan rug mill that made the 1928 “wonder rug.”
Visit Rockingham County Legacy, our digital heritage library, for an online historical experience of this area.
This not-for-profit museum tells the story of what is now the City of Eden, from the prehistoric period to the consolidation of the three small mill towns that formed the current city. The museum is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and during special events. Admission is $1 and the museum is located at 656 Washington Street, Eden, NC. Contact 336-623-0773 for more information.
The MARC is Rockingham County’s first-ever county-wide historical museum. Located in the historic Rockingham County Courthouse, MARC officially opened on August 11, 2012 with a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition called “Journey Stories” and an exhibition by America’s Photographer, Carol M. Highsmith. The MARC continually updates exhibits, hosts programs, and provides meeting and special event space. It is open Wed-Fri from 1-6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3.50 for students and seniors.
Civil War Trails
Rockingham County is also proud to have seven sites on the North Carolina Civil War Trails. The sites are located in Eden, Madison, Reidsville and Wentworth and are:
- Annie Eliza Johns, Trails sign located in churchyard, Henry and Moncure streets in Eden.
- Dan River, Trails sign located at the end of the Highway 87 North bridge and Hamilton St. in Eden.
- Leaksville Cotton Mill, Trails sign at Morgan and Meadow streets, west of the traffic circle in Eden.
- Piedmont Railroad, Trails sign at Chamber of Commerce building, Lawsonville and South Market streets in Reidsville.
- Scales Law Office, Trails sign at Academy (Route 311) and Franklin streets in Madison.
- Wentworth Cemetery, Trails sign on Route 65 at the Wentworth Methodist Church.
- Wentworth in the Civil War, Trails sign on route 65 in Wentworth.
Rockingham County was home to the man often dubbed the grandfather of modern country music. Charlie Poole lived and worked in Eden where he had his humble beginnings. It was here that he assembled his famed group, the North Carolina Ramblers, which helped launch his international career as a Columbia Records recording artist during the 1920s and 1930s.
Poole and the Ramblers were one of the most popular bands of the 1920s and they had a great impact on the development of bluegrass music and modern country music. Poole is largely responsible for popularizing the banjo. The 2005-released three-CD box set of Poole’s music, “You Ain’t Talkin’ to Me,” received three GRAMMY nominations in 2006. Each June the local community celebrates Poole’s contribution to the country music industry with the Charlie Poole Music Festival.
Heritage Attractions & Resources
Eden Preservation Society
Governor Reid House, Reidsville
Karastan Rug Mill Tour, Eden
Madison Dry Goods Museum, Madison
Madison Historic District
Piedmont Folk Legacies
Reidsville Historic District Walking Trails
Rockingham Community College Historical Collections
Rockingham County Legacy (Digital Heritage Project)
Wright Tavern (The MARC)