Denver is on the relatively quiet west shore of Lake Norman. Alongside fellow newcomers who’ve discovered the rural charm of Lincoln County, you will find folks who’ve lived in Denver all their lives and can tell what life was like even before the lake was created.
Denver history buffs can boast that the Revolutionary War Battle of Cowans Ford took place just south of Denver in an area now covered by Lake Norman.
Prior to 1876, Denver was called Dry Pond. When Colorado was admitted into the union, Dry Pond was changed to Denver in hopes that the progressive-sounding name might attract railroad builders.
Restored in 2015, the historic Mundy House (4353 N.C. 16 N.; www.facebook.com/MundyHouse/timeline) is home to the History Center of Eastern Lincoln County. The home was built by descendants of Revolutionary War veteran and Methodist minister Jeremiah Mundy.
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No discussion of Denver’s history would be complete without mentioning Rock Springs Campground, where a Methodist camp meeting is held every August. Part vacation, part family reunion and part religious revival, the 200-year tradition exemplifies the welcoming small-town atmosphere of Denver.
The Denver Art Trail (www.facebook.com/DenverArtTrail/) also provides a peek into Denver’s culture. Organized in 2006, the annual self-guided tour features local artists in their studios and exhibition spaces discussing their art and demonstrating techniques. Art ranges from painting and pottery to textiles and jewelry.
Denver residents are careful to cultivate its natural beauty. The recently opened Rock Springs Nature Preserve (6684 Pine Ridge Drive; www.lincolncounty.org) is situated on 116 acres where three creeks converge and flow into the lake. The park has a picnic shelter, a large children’s playground, an amphitheater, and an outdoor classroom. The preserve is part of the 15-county Carolina Thread Trail network.
Also part of the Thread Trail is the Forney Creek Trail (1601 Forney Creek Parkway; www.carolinathreadtrailmap.org) near Sally’s YMCA. The 2.4-mile trail winds through old-growth woods and by a large pond. A 66-foot suspension bridge crosses Forney Creek. The trail is located on an 85-acre tract preserved by the Catawba Lands Conservancy.
Part of the Charlotte-area YMCA organizations, Sally’s Y (1601 Forney Creek Parkway; www.ymcacharlotte.org/branches/sallys/sy.aspx) opened in 2011. It features a 4,910-square-foot fitness area, a chapel and an outdoor water park.
The Rotary Club is working on the East Lincoln Rescue Squad Park (7835 Galway Lane; http://denverlakenormanrotary.com/east-lincoln-rescue-squad-park/) adjacent to Lincoln Charter School. The park is the new home of the Denver Farmers Market (www.lincolncountyfarmersmarket.com/markets/denver/), open every Saturday morning in season. The park’s completed first phase includes a children’s playground, athletic fields and an activity shelter. Future phases will bring walking and biking trails and an amphitheater.
Also held at the new Rescue Squad Park, Denver Days (www.denverdays.com) gets bigger and better every year. The September community fair features midway rides and games, live music and dozens of local vendors.
Those looking for social involvement will find it in a number of local clubs. The East Lincoln Book Club, established in the 1970s, meets monthly at the Shanklin Library on Fairfield Forest Road. The East Lincoln Betterment Association (www.facebook.com/groups/266779309414/) is a decades-old nonprofit that regularly hosts candidates’ forums so voters can familiarize themselves with their representatives and learn more about community concerns. The Lake Norman Covekeepers (www.catawbariverkeeper.org) meet once a month at the fire station on Pilot Knob Road to discuss water conservation and wildlife issues.
Because Denver is not incorporated, locals sometimes disagree on exactly where the town begins and ends. Folks in both Lincoln and Catawba Counties call Denver home. Once you visit, it’s easy to see why they’d want to.
Denver is an unincorporated community in Lincoln County with a population of roughly 2,300.
Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, 704-736-8473
Law Enforcement: Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, Charlie District; non-emergency number 704-732-9050; www.lincolnsheriff.org
Fire Department: Denver Volunteer Fire Department – three bases; non-emergency number 704-483-5115
Denver’s first verifiable residents of the pre-Revolutionary War period were the Cherokee and Catawba Tribes, followed in 1747 and 1749 by pioneers Adam Sherrill and John Beatty. They were the first to build crossings over the Catawba River. Sherrills Ford and Beatty’s Ford are their legacy.
Scotch-Irish and Germans migrating from Pennsylvania settled the Denver area, originally called Dry Pond. In 1877, in an attempt to attract the railroad, the name was changed to Denver, after the capital of Colorado.
In 1962, Duke Power built the Cowan’s Ford Dam across the Catawba River, creating Lake Norman, and Denver began to offer attractive lake-front property. Today, the growth of Charlotte and the surrounding area fuels the economic development of the rapidly growing Denver area.
▪ The annual fall Denver Days Festival features carnival rides, food, games, vendors and entertainment. On Facebook: www.facebook.com/denverdays
▪ In August, folks gather for preaching and gospel singing at Rock Springs Campground.
▪ The Lincoln County Apple Festival in downtown Lincolnton: Held every third Saturday in September. www.lincolncountyapplefestival.com.
▪ Hog Happenin’: Annual barbecue competition in downtown Lincolnton. www.hoghappenin.org.