Denver is a small-town community located in Lincoln County, North Carolina. This is an unincorporated, census-designated community on the west shores of Lake Norman near Catawba River. The community was once known as Dry Pond because of the small pond that dried up at the corner of Highway 16 and Campground Road. The town is located just south of Catawba County, only about 25 miles north of the largest city in the state, Charlotte, NC.
In 1747, Adam Sherrill and his family relocated to the area. Two years later, John Beatty joined. The two families lived along the Catawba near sandbanks that made the river impassible. These crossing points eventually became known as Sherrills Ford and Beatties Ford. In 1770, Dry Pond was settled mostly by Scots-Irish and Germans from Pennsylvania. A vast majority of the Scots-Irish immigrants were Presbyterian, and their first place of worship was at the home of John Beatty. The site has now become Unity Presbyterian. The home was originally constructed of logs, but in 1808, a decision was made to renovate the building into something larger. A big chunk of the land that was taken by the Europeans originally belonged to the Catawba and Cherokee Indians. Catawba River functioned as a boundary separating the two nations who were often in opposition, sometimes resulting in violence. Sooner or later, a structure was built near present-day Statesville to protect the western part of the colony.
The biggest industry in the area became ironmaking, and there were six ironmaking businesses by 1810. Iron demands became too high, so Stonewall Furnace was built in 1862 to meet them. The high demands were caused by the War Between the States. In 1873, a local school principal named D. Matt Thompson was chosen to come up with a new name for the town. The community wanted to bring rail service to the area and figured Dry Pond wasn’t a name that would appeal to the masses. At the time, Colorado was petitioning to statehood, and their capital was Denver, so Thompson chose to name the town after it.
In the years leading up to the Civil War, North Carolina’s upper-class would escape to Catawba Springs resort for a relaxing vacation. The vacationers were able to take a break from the heat of the summer among several mineral springs near Denver. People began vacationing here as far back as the 1790s. The resort became a favorite stop on the stagecoach lines from Salisbury to Asheville.
Travelers from Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana came to experience the beauty and serenity of the springs. Even students from Davidson College liked to visit on the weekends. Unfortunately, the place was destroyed in 1930. The community’s first post master, John A. Kids, was appointed in 1874. The mail that was sent to the Catawba Springs post office was passed onto the Denver post office the next year. Two years after that, the community was incorporated as a town by the state. Sadly, Denver’s time as a town was brief. The railroad decided not to run through Denver, so the town wasn’t able to get the attention it needed. The town failed to elect local government for so long that they lost their official incorporated status in 1971 by vote of legislature. For a very long time, the downtown area was nothing but a few houses, stores, churches, a school, a barbershop, post office, bank and cotton gin. Eventually, locals began working at textile mills in the surrounding cities of Mooresville, Lincolnton, Cornelius, Maiden and Mount Holly.
With the filling of Lake Norman, however, there has been unexpected growth in Denver that outnumbers what anyone would have expected. People began moving to the area to live close to the water, and luxury homes were built on the lake front. Denver has become a commuter town for Charlotte.
Residents in the area attend Lincoln County Schools. East Lincoln County is one of the fastest growing parts of Lincoln County, and the schools try to measure up to that growth by providing the students of the community with an exceptional education. The area is quiet and calm, but there are still fun things to do and places to go, with your family and friends, in and around Denver. Tiger World, located in Rockwell, is an endangered wildlife reserve open to the public. The reserve is home to animals from many different continents, and some of these animals include tigers, bears, leopards, lynx, birds, kangaroos, bobcats, reptiles, wolves and more. The Woodmill Winery in Lincoln County is a great place to sit back, relax, and enjoy the incredible scenery. This vineyard is gorgeous and spacious with a front and back deck providing breathtaking views. Beatty’s Ford park is another ideal spot for kids and families with a disc golf course, picnic shelter, walking trail, volleyball court, horseshoe pits, splash park area, amphitheater and two playgrounds. Lake Norman provides tons of shopping and dining as well as boating, fishing, swimming and more! Golfing is available at West Port Golf Course in Denver. The 18-hole course offers an all-inclusive membership that includes tennis, golf, fitness, and pool.
This quiet, relaxed small-town locality has nowhere to go but up. Denver is often described as either “laid-back” or “easy-going”. The southern hospitality, natural flowing waters, easy access to big cities, and new development projects underway will ensure the success of this charming small-scale community.