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Lincoln County

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/01/12/48/1j95sI.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - HELEN SCHWAB
    Prime rib and potato cakes at Chillfire.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/01/12/48/1pb97a.Em.138.jpeg|209
    JEFF WILLHELM - jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.com
    Lincoln County Parks & Recreation Director Erma Deen Hoyle roams the wooded property that will soon become the Rock Springs Nature Preserve in Denver near Lake Norman. JEFF WILLHELM - jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.com

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    Chillfire Bar & Grill (121-A Cross Center Road, Denver) : A new restaurant by the same guys who did Mickey & Mooch in Charlotte and Epic Chophouse in Mooresville. It’s a welcome addition to Lincoln County’s limited restaurant choices, with a menu full of steak and seafood. The decor is sleek; you would never know it is housed in an old Blockbuster Video building. www.chillfiregrill.com.

    City Lunch (113 Court Square, Lincolnton): In the shadow of Lincoln County’s pretty courthouse, the eatery has been in operation since 1932. The family that currently runs it has done so since 1957. It’s only open Monday through Friday, usually from 5 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and be advised that it’s cash only (but the prices are so good you won’t mind). Try the hot dogs. 704-472-3994.

    The Lincoln County Apple Festival (downtown Lincolnton) : Held every third Saturday in September from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., it offers a wide variety of entertainment, food, crafts and, of course, apples. www.lincolncountyapplefestival.com.



When I tell people in Charlotte that I live in Lincoln County, they look puzzled and then ask one of two questions:

1) Where is that exactly? (It’s northwest of Charlotte.)

2) Isn’t that awfully far away? (Not really. It is 21 miles door to door from my house to uptown Charlotte – about 35 minutes driving time, usually on Highway 16.)

Lincoln County, though, can feel like it’s a world away from Charlotte – or even from Huntersville or Mooresville, for that matter. Development has been slower here than on the Interstate 77 corridor by at least 10 to 15 years, which isn’t always a bad thing.

A flock of wild turkeys lives on several acres of land near my house and is frequently sighted. The turkeys are commonplace enough that for a radius of a few miles, everyone knows about them. Once, the wild turkeys actually stopped traffic near my home, as six of them decided to cross a busy two-lane road.

Cars stopped as the two males hurried the four females along in front of them. I happened to be first in line, waiting for this odd crossing. The two males decided my van was a threat and briefly attacked it, gobbling and pecking at the headlights before scooting onto the other side of the road.

Lincoln County, with a population of close to 80,000 and one area that is actually named Boger City, is a charming place. There are a few big-box stores – Walmart, Lowe’s and plenty of supermarkets – but there are also a fair number of mom-and-pop operations that still survive and thrive.

OK, a random bit of Lincoln County trivia for you: It wasn’t named for Abraham Lincoln, but for Benjamin Lincoln, a general in the Revolutionary War. Unless you are fishing or playing around on Lake Norman as the sun sets – and lots of county residents enjoy the western side of the lake – Benjamin Lincoln’s namesake is not a place that will dazzle you with dozens of choices of things to do.

My family drives to Birkdale Village in Huntersville, for instance, to go to the movies or when we want a little wider restaurant selection. But then when we come home, we sometimes catch a glimpse of the two white squirrels that live in an oak tree over our driveway. Take that, Huntersville!

Lincoln County is off the beaten path, yes.

I had about a dozen addresses over a dozen years before I met my future wife.

She grew up in Lincoln County and still lived there. I had lived in Charlotte for two years and never been there once. I was so enamored with her that I would have driven to the ends of the earth to pick her up for our first date, and that first time it almost felt like I did.

But when we got married in 1997, I moved to Denver, on the eastern side of the county. Four children later, we’re still there, enjoying the small-town feel of the place and keeping an eye out for the wild turkeys.

Scott is a sports columnist for The Observer.
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