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There’s more to Mount Airy than Mayberry

By Gary McCullough
Correspondent

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    The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Admission: $5; $4 for students and seniors. Details: 336-786-4478; www.northcarolinamuseum.org. . he $3 admission to the Old-Time Music Heritage Hall includes the Siamese Twins exhibit and Andy Griffith Museum. Details: 336-786-7998; www.surryarts.org.



Mount Airy – Andy Griffith’s hometown – has come to embrace its association with the late actor’s ever-popular TV series, and many attractions are tied to the town’s being an inspiration for “Mayberry.” But there is more to enjoy in Mount Airy.

Distance

From Charlotte, Mount Airy is 104 miles from Charlotte, about a two-hour drive.

To see and do

Get an overview of the community’s history at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, with four floors filled with exhibits and artifacts. One exhibit provides information about the Saura Indians, a vanished tribe that once inhabited the region. A branch of the Sioux Indians, the Saura migrated to the area during the mid-1400s. By the early 1700s, however, the Saura had moved to the south, uniting first with the Cheraw, later with the Catawba. About all that survives from this lost tribe is the name: The hills surrounding Mount Airy are called the Sauratown Mountains.

An observation deck atop the museum’s clock tower offers views of the surrounding countryside, including nearby Pilot Mountain.

The Old-Time Music Heritage Hall, in the same complex as the Andy Griffith Museum and the Griffith Playhouse, preserves “the intense, bluesy, fiddle-driven Surry County sound” of old-time music and honors many of the individuals responsible for it. Every Saturday from 11 a.m. to1:30 p.m. at the historic Earle Theater on Main Street, you can catch live bluegrass and gospel as it’s being aired on WPAQ-AM’s “Merry Go-Round” program. The show, which began in 1948, is the second-oldest continuously aired radio program in the country.

The Siamese Twins exhibit, downstairs in the Andy Griffith Playhouse, spotlights the remarkable lives of brothers Eng and Chang Bunker. The “original” Siamese twins were born in Siam (now Thailand) in 1811, but became naturalized North Carolinians in 1839 and spent their last years in Surry County.

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