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Tourists visit historic Lincoln

A steady stream of tour groups regularly visit Lincoln County to soak in its historic sites.
“We have a lot of varied history, a lot of history the locals take for granted,” said Bill Beam, president of the Lincoln County Historical Association.
Beam says tour groups come through Lincoln County almost weekly visiting St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Woodside Plantation, the Lincoln Cultural Center and the site of the Battle of Ramseur’s Mill.
Chumley Cope, owner of Up Close Travel out of Spartanburg, S.C., brought a tour group to Lincoln County Wednesday.
“I love what I call the ‘in-tactness’ of downtown,” Cope said.
He’s also a big fan of Woodside Plantation and owner Rick Ramseur, who gives tours complete with magic tricks.
“I think it’s probably the most interesting, best visit to a specific site that I may have done anywhere,” he said.
Many of the tour groups that come through Lincoln County are brought here by Jason Harpe, director of the historical association.
“He’s a great booster of historic sites in Lincoln County,” Cope said.
Tour groups stopping in Lincoln County have come from as far away as North and South Dakota. People who love history tend to love what they find in Lincolnton.
“Oh I love graveyards – the old ones,” Judith E. Bryant said while walking through St. Luke’s Episcopal Church’s cemetery. “I love to see the tombstones.”
John Erwin Phifer came on Wednesday’s tour specifically to visit the graveyard. His grandparents are buried there.
“It’s interesting, the contribution these people made,” Phifer said.
He loves exploring his ancestry, although he says he isn’t interested in “ancestor worship.”
“These were real people,” he said. “They had their sins and their vices.”
While touring the Lincoln Cultural Center, visitors can learn the fundraising process that made the Timken Performance Hall possible.
“It’s amazing to me what a small town and good people can do,” said Aly Goodwin, who came to Lincolnton with Up Close Travel.
In the Lincoln Museum of History, visitors can view pottery, portraits and handmade furniture.
At Woodside, tourists can be shown handmade furniture by the great-nephew of the maker.
“The furniture is rather unique,” Ramseur said. “He didn’t like anything symmetrical.”
Ramseur says he gives tours at least once a week – sometimes to large groups, other times to friends of friends who are visiting Lincolnton.
He’s just one of many Lincoln County residents who like to keep history alive. Nearly 750 people belong to the historical association.
“We’ve got a lot that renew every year, so that tells you something,” said Tina Guffey, who is the administrative assistant for the historical association.

Bill Beam (left), president of the Lincoln County Historical Association and John Southern, interim pastor at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, tell a tour group from Spartanburg, S.C. the history of the building. Chris Dean / LTN Photo

by Sarah Grano

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