Mount Airy, North Carolina - History, Attractions, Things To See & Do
Mount Airy, North Carolina, is a beautiful community located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Surry County, which borders Virginia. The first settlers around the Mount Airy town site apparently arrived before 1747, when Jefferson and Frye made a map of the region and noted the presence of settlers. Incorporation took place in 1885, after which, the granite quarry began production on a large scale, tobacco factories began to spring up, and the first furniture factory work started. In 1976, the Town of Mount Airy became the City of Mount Airy. Mount Airy was the first city in the nation to win the STAR award for its safety program.
The city is the birthplace of actor Andy Griffith, and is considered to have been the inspiration for the fictional town of Mayberry, where The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry RFD were set. Several local references in the shows link Mayberry to Mount Airy, including the Snappy Lunch, a restaurant in Mount Airy, and Mount Pilot, which pertains to the nearby town of Pilot Mountain. Other local references include Bannertown, Stokes County, and Fancy Gap, VA. Several larger North Carolina cities were mentioned as well, including Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Siler City, Charlotte, Raleigh, Asheville, and Wilmington.
Mount Airy was also the home of Chang and Eng Bunker, the famous Siamese Twins. They were joined at the chest by a band of cartilage and traveled with the Barnum circus for several years. After retiring, they married sisters from North Carolina and bought farms in the community of White Plains, just west of Mount Airy.
Area Attractions / Things To See & Do:
- The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History educates visitors about the area. Exhibits include topics such as the world's largest open face granite quarry, Saura Indians, and the Yadkin River.
- The annual Mayberry Days celebration during the last weekend of September attracts thousands of visitors from around the world.
- At The Andy Griffith Playhouse is the statue dedicated to Andy Griffith by TV Land during Mayberry Days in 2004. The statue depicts Andy & Opie Taylor walking with fishing poles toward the lake as in the famous opening scene for The Andy Griffith Show.
- Mount Airy has an abundance of Bluegrass and old-time music. Jam sessions are a common occurrence at The Andy Griffith Playhouse
- Mount Airy is a short drive from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Not far up the Parkway is Mabry Mill in Meadows of Dan, Virginia. The mill is a favorite stop for photographers. Also off the Blue Ridge Parkway is Levering Orchard.
- The area is great for nature lovers. The state parks of Pilot Mountain, Hanging Rock and Stone Mountain are all within driving distance.
- The Autumn Leaves Festival attracts thousands in October each year for music, crafts, and food.
- In Ararat, Virginia, only about 6 miles from Mount Airy, Civil War history is presented with reenactments of battles at the birthplace of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart.
- Mount Airy is the birthplace of three Major League Baseball players: Chubby Dean, Ron Blackburn, and Ben Callahan.
- The granite quarry is so large that it has been seen by astronauts from outer space.