By D. Lanier Shook January 2, 2017
How long has it been since you decided to take an old road to get somewhere? An old road like Highway 23, Highway 25, Highway 176, or Highway 70. Last year I was in Statesville and decided to run 70 back to Hickory. That’s where I saw the sign to the town of Catawba and decided to see what was there. It was a good idea.
Catawba, North Carolina is a town you may have never been to or even heard of. But its a town that’s well worth visiting. Even though its not that big a town, it’s a surprisingly charming one.
The heart of Catawba’s charm is its downtown. And even though its a small downtown, the main street has a world class atmosphere that helps turn it into a real destination. That atmosphere is anchored by Pop’s Old Company Store and Tavern — it’s the store on the corner with the bikes out front. Although I didn’t have time to find out, this seems like the perfect place to grab a bite of lunch or dinner. You can find out more by clicking here to visit their website or stay up to date with their live music schedule by clicking here to visit their Facebook page.
Other places to grab a bite in Catawba include the Silver Moon Restaurant and Pub or Cindy’s Star Lite Cafe. If you have a family reunion or another event coming up then the Historic Sherrill’s Tobacco Company could just be the place to look up. They’re the building with the mural on the side and you can visit their Yelp page by clicking here.
Catawba’s charm doesn’t end at the city limits. is also right beside a jewel of North Carolina transportation history. The Bunker Hill Covered Bridge, located just west of town on Highway 70, is the only remaining wooden covered bridge built by General Herman Haupt. Readers of the novel Gettysburg by Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen will remember Haupt as a key character in the Northern Army. This bridge is located between Catawba and Hickory right on Highway 70 with a spacious parking and picnic area plus a walking trail running up to the bridge. For more information just click here to visit the Catawba County Historical Association website.
It would be wrong not to mention the care the Historical Association has given to this site. There are several incredibly informative displays around the covered bridge explaining its significance both in American history and local history. They’re an education in themselves, discussing the bridge’s design, the bridge’s designer, and the process of restoring it. This bridge is a must see if you’re in the Hickory-Newton-Catawba area.
Even if you’re not looking for a road trip to a charming town, you should remember Catawba because of its location. This is a town that’s going places. From the impressive veteran’s memorial to the great roads to the parks, I got the distinct impression this place is growing and I’m surprised since its in such a great location.
The town of Catawba is only 2 miles from I-40, 20 miles from Hickory and 15 miles from Statesville and I-77. Statesville and Hickory are both full of resurging manufacturing, largely because they’re located on Interstates 40 and 77. Catawba’s proximity to the Interstates is what makes it a convenient road trip destination and a place to keep an eye on.
Location is key when selecting a road trip. See, lunch in Catawba could be sandwiched — pun intended — between shopping at the Hickory Furniture Mart or browsing through Newton’s historic downtown. I could even stop for coffee on my way to or from Winston Salem. Catawba is just so doggone convenient there isn’t a reason not to stop.
Here are a few links to attractions in and around Catawba you’ll want to investigate as you consider visiting it. Individually — or combined — they make an incredible road trip, whether you run on the old roads or stay on I-40.
- Town of Catawba website, with links to the Historic Association photos and a list of local businesses
- Hickory Metro Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
- Statesville Convention and Visitors Bureau
- My Road Trip to Newton’s Historic Downtown
- My Road Trip to the Hickory Furniture Mart
- My Road Trip to the Hickory Aviation Museum