Cherryville

If you've ever been to Cherryville, lived in the area, or know someone from Cherryville, you know the correct way to pronounce it, "Churr-vul" not Cherry-ville.  The Northwest Gaston County Town with a uniquely pronounced name is home to a unique New Year's Tradition and was important in the state's textile and transportation history.

A downtown Cherryville mural celebrates the city's history.

Cherryville was settled in the late 1700s and was known as "White Pine".  When a post office was established here in 1854 - it used the White Pine name.   The Wilmington, Charlotte, and Rutherford Railroad (predecessor to the Central Carolina Railroad) came into town in 1862.  White Pine served as the temporary western terminus of the railroad during the Civil War.  

During this time, a local farmer had planted a row of cherry trees along the post road and railroad.  Railroad engineers would start calling White Pine, Cherryville; and in 1865, the community changed its name to Cherryville.  The town would officially incorporate as Cherryville in 1881.

Main Street - Cherryville

It was not long after that Cherryville would transition from an agricultural community to a more industrial town.  In 1891, the Cherryville Manufacturing Company opened as the town's first textile mill.  This mill would be the first of what would be 13 textile companies or mills that would operate within the town over the next 60 years.

In 1932, the start of what became the Carolina Freight Carriers Corporation began in Cherryville.  The company, originally known as the Beam Trucking Company, began with a modest one truck operation that hauled produce from Florida to Gaston County.  It soon expanded hauling freight throughout the southeast and east coast and eventually internationally.

The former Belk Department Store Building (in white) on Main Street in Downtown Cherryville.  Currently, there are plans to renovate the building to include for second floor apartments and first floor office, boardroom and retail space.

With textiles and freight hauling as the economic backbone of the community, Cherryville grew to over 5,000 residents by 1970.  Cherryville's downtown was a mix of small town businesses with some larger city operations - Belk had a department store on Main Street.

Unfortunately, the next three decades were difficult for Cherryville as the textile industry would slowly leave.  Further, the 1995 purchase of Carolina Freight by Arkansas Best Trucking Company would remove the freight carrier operations from town.  Cherryville's population would see a decline into the 1990s.

The Cherryville Historical Museum now occupies the former City Hall building built in 1911.

Yet, Cherryville persevered and by 2000 the town's population exceed the 1970 total and is now home to over 6,000 residents going into the 2020 census.   In Downtown Cherryville, one can find a unique blend of local specialty shops, parks, and museums.  In 2016, Downtown Cherryville was recognized as a National Historic District by the National Park Service.   The town's Main Street program plan includes streetscape improvements, building and fa├žade restorations/improvements, and numerous events.

Two of the more interesting features of Downtown Cherryville is the Children's Artway and the J. Ralph Beam, Jr. Heritage Park.

The Children's Artway is a fun piece of public art down through what was once a run down alley.  Completed in 2018, the Artway has been lauded as a great example of placemaking.  The entire mural was designed by Sherry Bingham and is a tribute to local children from the early 1900s to present.  

Children's Artway - Cherryville


Heritage Park is home to five preserved buildings from the town's early days.  It includes the first town hall, an original one room school house, an old jailhouse, smokehouse, and an old warehouse that was used to store federally bonded liquor.

The first town hall in Cherryville was built in 1892.  It served as the town hall until a new one was constructed in 1911.

The John Black Schoolhouse was in operation from 1898 to 1912.  It sat on the property of John Black.

Cherryville's museums include the Cherryville Historical Museum - located in the town's former City Hall - and the C. Grier Beam Truck Museum.   The truck museum is housed at the original gas station where the Beam Trucking Company began operations.  It opened in 1982 as part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Carolina Freight Carriers.  Admission is free and the museum also hosts a number of events throughout the year.

The C. Grier Beam Truck Museum in Cherryville

Besides the unique pronunciation of its name, Cherryville is well known throughout North Carolina for its New Years Eve Shooters tradition.   The annual tradition of bringing in the New Year by firing muskets and chants come from a mix of German, Scotch, and Irish traditions.  Many descendants of those areas in Europe settled around the Cherryville area in the late 1700s.

New Year's Shooters tribute at Heritage Park.

Traveling through the town, countryside, and nearby communities on New Year's Day, the noise from the shooters musket fire is said to drown out or chase away evils spirits or bad luck, while the chant wishes for peace, prosperity, and blessings for the new year.  
Good morning to you, sir. We wish you a happy New Year,
Great health, long life, which God may bestow...

And bless our hearts, for the old year's gone and the New Year's come
And for good luck, we'll fire our guns!

---Excerpt from Cherryville New Year's Shooters Chant
The all day event begins at exactly midnight on New Year's Day and goes throughout the day ending with a large celebration at Cherryville's Rudisill Football Stadium around 6:30 pm.
Cherryville looks forward to a new future under the slogan "Where Life Blossoms"

Cherryville's history and traditions are as unique as the pronunciation of its name.  The small town feel and its future are as pleasant and bright as the full bloom cherry tree's that gave it its name.

All photos taken by post author - July 7, 2020

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