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Winston-Salem, North Carolina - History, Attractions, Things To See & Do

Updated on September 21, 2007
Historic Old Salem with Downtown in the Background
Historic Old Salem with Downtown in the Background

Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is the county seat and largest city in Forsyth County. Fans of The Andy Griffith Show may remember the episode in which guitar player Jim Lindsey mentioned that he had just picked up a new guitar pick from "that music store in Winston-Salem." Maybe that store is in Hanes Mall, the largest mall in North Carolina, and one of the largest in the southeastern United States. Winston-Salem, along with Greensboro and High Point, form what is referred to as The Triad area of the Piedmont Region of North Carolina. The city possesses a combination of history, culture, and southern hospitality. The nicknames "Twin City," for the merging of Winston and Salem, and "Camel City," in reference to the city's tobacco industry and Camel cigarettes, are sometimes used. Winston-Salem is the fourth largest city in the state.


In January of 1753, a Moravian settlement tract was selected in the three forks of Muddy Creek. This area was called "die Wachau" or Latin "Wachovia." The origin of the name for Wachovia Bank came from this area. In November, settlers arrived at the area of the site that would become the town of Bethabara. Bethabara began to grow, but was not considered to be suitable to be the primary settlement. Lots were drawn among sites which were better suited, and the new town, named Salem for the Hebrew word "peace," was established. Building for Salem began in 1766.

The town of Winston was founded in 1849. It was named after a local Revolutionary War hero, Joseph Winston. Winston established itself as an industrial town. In 1913, the two towns of Winston And Salem merged to form the "twin city" of Winston-Salem.

Business & Economy:

Winston-Salem is home for the corporate headquarters of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, HanesBrands, Lowes Foods, Branch Banking and Trust, T.W. Garner Foods, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and Blue Rhino Propane. After a long growth cycle based on the tobacco, furniture and textile industries, the city is attracting new businesses in the high-tech, bio-tech, and medical fields. The area of downtown known as the Piedmont Triad Research Park is becoming a major hub for biomedical and technology research. The largest employer in Winston-Salem is now the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Colleges & Universities:

  • Wake Forest University
  • Winston-Salem State University
  • North Carolina School of the Arts
  • Salem College
  • Piedmont Baptist College
  • Winston-Salem Bible College
  • Forsyth Technical Community College

Attractions / Things To See & Do:

  • Old Salem
  • Bethabara Park
  • Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts
  • SciWorks
  • Children's Museum of Winston-Salem
  • Historic West End District
  • Wake Forest University Museum of Anthropology
  • Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art
  • Reynolda House Museum of American Art
  • Reynolda Gardens

Annual Events:

  • Dixie Classic Fair
  • River Run Film Festival
  • Tanglewood Festival of Lights


  • Winston-Salem Warthogs - Carolina League (Class A) minor-league baseball affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. Home games are played at historic Ernie Shore Field.
  • ACC Basketball/Football/Baseball/Soccer - Wake Forest is a charter member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
  • NASCAR Racing at Bowman Gray Stadium

Interesting Facts:

  • In addition to being famous for it's barbeque, hot dogs, and hot sauce, family owned and operated Pulliam's Barbeque played a key role in NASCAR history. The restaurant was a favorite meeting place for informal discussions between members of NASCAR's France family and executives from R.J. Reynolds when negotiations were underway concerning Reynolds' sponsorship of the Winston Cup Series.
  • The Reynolds Building, a 22-story skyscraper which has been the home office for the R.J. Reynolds, was the prototype for the Empire State Building in New York.


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    • profile image

      wspa student 5 years ago

      this is really cool thank you

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      Paisley Student 7 years ago

      Thamks!!! This has helped me with my school work a lot and has given me a lot of info about Winston-Salem. Even though I live here, some of this stuff I really didn't know so now I hoope that I am getting a A on my project!

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      hi 7 years ago

      do yall know of any economy that was important when w-s was made?

    • profile image

      idk 7 years ago

      hello ppl

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      how to increase vertical 9 years ago

      Its really interesting... Thanks for sharing your thoughts....

    • profile image

      bambi 9 years ago

      I am looking for any information on the old West End Schoolion what is now 4th Street in Downtown Winston Salem. I have a copy of the Validictory address made by one of my ancestors in 1903 and would like to know more about the school.

    • MayberryNC profile image

      MayberryNC 10 years ago

      I'm not quite sure what you mean? Do you mean the key to the city?

    • profile image

      TONY 10 years ago