Not long ago ago, I did a column on a slim volume published by our state titled, “North Carolina Byways.” The small book featured suggested trips, “byways,” that avoided the interstates and showed how really attractive the Tar Heel State is.
In the column I mentioned that the state people were working on an updated edition, due out this fall.
Well, that new (fifth) edition found its way into my mailbox recently, and a copy can find its way into your mailbox, too. Measuring 8½ by 10 inches, it no longer fits conveniently into your car’s glove compartment as the fourth edition did, but you’ll want to keep it in your car somewhere, once you get a good look at it.
The volume has the expressed purpose of helping us to “enjoy exploring North Carolina’s less-traveled roads.” I think it does its job beautifully.
North Carolina has been known for its natural beauty since the days of the early explorers, and this new 258-page guide features our state’s attractiveness prominently with plenty of color photographs on slick paper. Each copy of the book, which cost the state $5.80 to print, you can get for FREE.
As I mentioned above, a “byway” is a scenic tour. There are 62 such motor tours featured, with each of our three major geographic regions (mountains, piedmont and coastal plain) well represented. There are 24 tours in the mountains, 23 in the piedmont and 15 in the coastal plain. The byways through the mountains would be especially lovely at this time.
My only criticism is that there is still no scenic byway through Iredell County, but I’m working on this for the sixth edition.
Each tour begins and ends in a specific site, usually a small town. The guide informs you of the county or counties involved in the byways tour, the approximate mileage of the tour and the approximate driving time. Also included is a paragraph or two on “points of interest” you might want to examine more closely, involving historic sites, state parks, recreational areas, “natural wonders,” colleges and universities and information on the small towns you will encounter.
The intention is that the book be used in conjunction with the latest edition of the official highway maps, which are also free and available at welcome centers and rest centers and through the means mentioned below.
To get your own copy of “North Carolina Byways” (fifth edition), call 800-VISITNC or email to www.VisitNC.com. The state printed just 15,000 copies, and I imagine they will be going fast, once word gets out. I repeat that the books are also available at welcome centers and rest areas across the state. You can check out the Scenic Byways Program’s website by going to www.ncdotgov/scenic.
Our state taxes and the tax on gasoline help pay for this, so, in a manner of speaking, you have already paid for your own copy.
O.C. Stonestreet is the author of “Tales From Old Iredell County,” “They Called Iredell County Home” and “Once Upon a Time … in Mooresville, NC.”