Wildcat Highway Marker, Lake Lure
WILDCAT / HIGHWAY / ERECTED IN LOVING / MEMORY OF THOSE / WHO SERVED IN / THE WORLD WAR / WAR MOTHERS OF NORTH CAROLINA
Town of Lake Lure
May 17, 1932
35.430100 , -82.229520 View in Geobrowse
“American War Mothers,” SNAC (Social Networks and Archival Context), snaccooperative.org, (accessed November 3, 2021) Link
“Call Quest,” The Charlotte News (Charlotte, NC), August 4, 1972
“Road Marker Is Dedicated,” Asheville Citizen-Times (Charlotte, NC), May 18, 1932
“War Mothers to Dedicate Marker at Lake Highway,” The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC), May 15, 1932
“Will Erect Individual Memorials Along “Old Hickory” and “Wildcat” Highways in Memory of Fallen Heroes,” Asheville Citizen-Times (Charlotte, NC), May 17, 1922
“World War Mothers to Honor Memory of War by Appropriate Markers,” The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC), February 16, 1930
War Mothers of North Carolina
Mrs. C.B. King of Charlotte, chair of the War Mothers Highway Marker Committee, presided over the dedication and gave the dedicatory address. Other War Mothers presenting were Mrs. J.W. Roark of Charlotte and Mrs. W.D. Pemberton of Concord. Dr. L.B. Morse accepted the marker on behalf of the towns of Lake Lure and Chimney Rock.
Records of the American War Mothers state that the organization “was founded in response to federal officials impressed with and grateful for the Food Conservation and War Relief Work carried on by mothers of servicemen and women during World War I.” with membership “limited to U.S. women whose children served in the Armed Forces. On September 29, 1917, these officials requested that a permanent War Mothers organization be established.” By Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, two-thirds of the states were organized into chapters. On February 24, 1925, Congress granted the American War Mothers a National Charter. Their purpose was to engage in patriotic works and assist men and women who served and were wounded in American conflicts.
Miss May F. Jones of Asheville is credited with the idea of commemorating the two major routes stretching across North Carolina from the mountains to the coast for those who served during World War One. With the backing of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce and the North Carolina Division of American War Mothers, the legislature designated them in 1921 as “memorials to the heroism and valor of all North Carolinians who answered the call...” to serve during World War One. The “Central” Highway (Hwy. 10) was designated as the “Old Hickory Highway” after the 30th Infantry Division. This division’s name honored Andrew Jackson who received the nickname as a reflection of his tenacious and unyielding nature. Men from this division came from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. The “Wilmington-Charlotte-Asheville” Highway (Hwy. 20) was designated as the “Wildcat” Highway after the 81st Infantry Division. During World War One the 81st Infantry Division, nicknamed the “Wildcat” Division, was stationed at Ft. Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina. Most of the men in this division came from North Carolina and South Carolina.
The “Old Hickory” Highway began at Paint Rock on the North Carolina-Tennessee line and passed through Asheville, Statesville, Greensboro, Raleigh, Goldsboro and ending at Beaufort, very roughly the course of portions of I-40 and US Highway 70. The “Wildcat” Highway began at the North Carolina-Georgia line passing through Murphy and also on to Asheville, then Shelby, Lumberton and to Wilmington. The route closely follows the path of old US Highway 74. In 1922 much of the route was over unpaved roads and the North Carolina Highway Commission committed to marking these routes as the roads were improved. The efforts languished leaving the War Mothers markers as the only visible memory of the two highways.
Wildcat Division markers were placed in Lake Lure, Gastonia, Charlotte (two), Wadesboro and Wilmington. Old Hickory Division markers were placed in Statesville, Salisbury, Raleigh (two), and Craven County. A marker with a bronze tablet commemorating both divisions was placed at the intersection of the two highways near Asheville.
The marker stands a few feet off Memorial Highway approximately 100 yards south of the 1927 Lake Lure Inn. The inn address is 2771 Memorial Highway, Lake Lure, NC.
The marker is set between several bushes and shaded by trees directly across the street from Lake Lure Beach. To the rear is a parking area for vacation rentals.