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High Rock Outfitters offers canoe and kayak trips as well as historical tours of the area in Lexington, North Carolina.

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High Rock Outfitters Run Accompanying Pub

Tours Dedicated To Paddlesports & Historical Guides On The Yadkin River Highlight Its Significance During The Revolutionary War And End The Day At Owner's Bar

The Wil-Cox bridge has been reserved since the 1920s and is part of High Rock Outfitters tour [Photo Credit: High Rock Outfitters/All Rights Reserved]

“We recently found a rock that has ‘D. Boone’ inscribed on it near the cave,” explains Chris Phelps, owner of High Rock Outfitters in Lexington, North Carolina, “We sent it in for testing. It could just be a prank.” The cave he is talking about is Boone’s cave in Davidson County, on the Yadkin River. The Yadkin River is the second largest watershed in North Carolina. Phelps’ company does guided tours of the Yadkin, as well as rents kayaks and other paddlesports (they also have a pub and coffee shop).

Phelps grew up in the area and spent a lot of time going to High Rock Lake, which is fed by the Yadkin river, and has always loved paddlesports. “While exploring in a kayak or a canoe, I started to get into the history of the area,” he explains, “And there is so much history here that it’s hard to wrap your head around.” He says there are significant Civil War, Revolutionary War, as well as Boone family history in the area.

“The Boone family came to the area around 1750,” Phelps explains, “They were the pioneers who settled this part of the river.” Along with Squire Boone and family, was, of course, Daniel Boone. Daniel Boone was one of the first folk heroes of America. He was a frontiersman who fought in the revolutionary war, as well as made the Wilderness Road - a trail that went through the mountains into the midwest. The Boone Cave is a legendary cave on the Yadkin. It is said the family lived in the cave for about a year, though nothing has been substantiated without doubt. “We have found some letters from Squire Boone that gives an address a few hundred yards from the cave,” Phelps explains, “But a lot of the documentation burned up when the courthouse was set afire during the civil war.”

Chris Phelps canoeing on the the Yadkin River [Photo Credit: High Rock Outfitters/All Rights Reserved]
Phelps’ company offers guided tours of the Yadkin, as well as rents kayaks, canoes and SUPs [Photo Credit: High Rock Outfitters/All Rights Reserved]

Further on down the river is the Wil-Cox bridge. “The Wil-Cox bridge was built in the 1920s and now we are preserving it as a greenway bridge for the bike trails,” Phelps says. It is also in the area where Nathaniel Greene retreated from the British in the Revolutionary war by crossing the Yadkin River. Greene knew he was outnumbered while being chased down by Lord Cornwallis and crossed the river in early February of 1781. “If he hadn’t crossed here, the war probably would have been lost,” Phelps says. After he crossed the Yadkin, the water rose and the British were unable to ford the river, so the American Army could prepare for the next battle and win the war.

The Civil War history of the area is plentiful as well. “The last battle of the civil war was fought over here,” Phelps says. It was a battle that happened after the war had ended. “It’s too bad Google wasn’t invented yet because they could have used it,” Phelps laughs. But perhaps not. The battle that is being referred to was more of a raid that resulted in a lot of loss of life for Southern Civilians. Known as Stoneman’s Raid, General Stoneman of the Union army came to Salisbury and occupied it, burning bridges, hospitals, prisons, and buildings. They went from house to house looking for food, liquor and valuables. Stoneman was ordered by the US government to “destroy and not fight battles” in order to further demoralize the South. He was also told to pursue the Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, to the “ends of the earth.”

North Carolina showing its autumn colors in the beautiful city of Lexington [Photo Credit: High Rock Outfitters/All Rights Reserved]

All of these stories and more are told on guided historical trips in Davidson County. People like Chris Phelps are hard at work trying to preserve and discover the history of this area of the country. As of late, opportunities to further preserve the nature around Lexington has opened up. “We have the opportunity to have 1000's of acres for conservation,” Phelps explains. The river and waterways of the area were all once owned by a company that used it for hydroelectric power for an aluminum plant. “In 2007, their 50 year license to do this came to an end and it started a conversation,” Phelps says. Since the aluminum plant was no longer there, they were not granted another license. As such, the acres are up for sale for public use, something “that is the most significant conservation project in North Carolina.”

For the day to day, though, there are canoe trips and historical tours given out of High Rock Outfitters. And they learn new things about the area every day. “I started just doing paddlesports and realize more and more how much history there is here,” Phelps says. For example, a group, including Phelps, went out into the woods near Boone’s cave and found a foundation of a larger structure. “At this point we don’t know how significant it is,” he says, “But it could very well be from the Boone family.”


Andrew Malo

A graduate of Northeastern Illinois University in Education, Andrew has taught for the past decade in Chicago, New Mexico, and Japan.  He  enjoys tinkering with trucks and motorcycles, woodworking, reading and computer programming. 

Carolina Country Campground

Make Sure To Stay At: 

Carolina Country Campground, a family-oriented campground located in Salisbury, NC. Amenities include mini golf, fishing and paddle boating, hiking trail, a Jr. Olympic sized pool, horseshoe pits, and much more. 

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