Mecklenburg County – known for booming growth and ever-expanding freeways – is looking to get on the map for a very different kind of transportation: designation of the county's very first scenic byway.
The starting point for the proposed Davidson Scenic Byway turns out to be a pretty unscenic spot in front of an old, abandoned building. It's at the Iredell County border on Highway 115 (that's Old Statesville Road) just north of downtown Davidson.
The documents supporting this designation say that "the scenic route traces the evolution of a unique community that was sparked by a commitment to higher education and civic engagement and is sustained by its historic and rural origins and its commitment to its natural assets."
Heading south on Highway 115 toward the town of Davidson, the proposed route parallels the train tracks for about a mile, passing historic homes and a cemetery containing the grave of Confederate General D.H. Hill who taught at Davidson College before the Civil War.
It passes in front of Davidson College and then turns left onto Concord Road, in the center of town. Soon, the path veers left onto Grey Road. Stately college buildings and historic homes with columned porches give way to rolling farm land.
Grey Road becomes Greystone Road and then we go right onto Shearer Road, ending at the entrance to Fisher Farm Park.
The whole route is six miles and takes about 15 minutes to drive. The Davidson Land Conservancy and Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners hope scenic byway designation for this country road will draw tourists and give locals a taste of their heritage. But that could be a tall order in a region where people put a premium on wider freeways and faster ways to get where they're going.
Incidentally, if the state does designate this route the 55th scenic byway, billboards would be prohibited, but that's already the case in the town of Davidson.