There’s a good reason most of the roads in Love Valley, North Carolina are called ‘trails’ instead of roads, or lanes, or even streets. It’s because this tiny town in the Brushy Mountains of North Carolina doesn’t allow cars. It was founded in 1954 by one man who merged two dreams when he put the town together: he wanted to live in a Christian community and he wanted to be a cowboy. His name was Andy Barker and he left a good job in Charlotte to move to the mountains to realize his dream. His tiny town of Love Valley wasn’t built with future tourists in mind, but the novelty of the town certainly invites them in the present day.
At the start, Barker brought with him some construction buddies who helped build a church that still sits up on the hill overlooking the town. By 1963, when the town was incorporated and Barker’s dad was named mayor, the town’s main street (a.k.a. Henry Martin Trail) had long taken shape.
Barker’s Utopia of Love Valley had one major rule:
No cars allowed.
Barker passed away in 2011, but the town remains car free. The 2016 census-estimated population of Love Valley was 104 residents.
But what’s life like inside this tiny town in North Carolina without cars?
Firstly, many residents DO have cars, but there are many places they can’t drive them.
Need something from the store, or want to grab a meal from the General Store and Cafe? Better be prepared to walk, or saddle up the horse…
No cars are allowed on the main street; only horses — and wagons, of course. The locals know the laws and follow suit.
Visitors though, are another story. You can rent a horse to ride into town if you want, but most days, if you’re coming to Love Valley as a tourist, you can get away with leaving your car outside the invisible gates in a lot up the road a bit from the retail and other businesses.
Love Valley’s residents and merchants love entertaining visitors.
The town has a general store, a cafe, a local bar, a gift shop with ice cream, a feed store, hardware store, a saloon, and of course, a tack store.
Each year, Love Valley Arena is home to a variety of rodeos and horse events that are open to the public, and many visitors pick this opportunity to visit the cowboy town. For those wanting to spend the night, the town’s website has a list of campgrounds — and even a link to Miss Kitty’s Room and Board. (Town website link is below.)
Did you know this car-free cowboy town was right here in the Tar Heel State?
Have you been to Love Valley yet? Don’t have a horse? No problem! You can rent one in Love Valley!
The Town of Love Valley is located 16 miles north of Statesville and 23 miles southeast of Wilkesboro. For more information about this unique town, visit the official website for the Town of Love Valley, or follow the Facebook page.
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