Fans of cowboy culture should look no further than the old western town of Love Valley in the Brushy Mountains of North Carolina. The realistic Old West town came about all because a man named Andy Barker had always dreamed of living in a western town. The self-proclaimed “Cowboy Capital” is one place in the United States you can go if you want to get a taste of what it was like to live as the cowboys did.
Barker was a successful businessman living in Charlotte with his family, but he had a dream and wanted to make it a reality. He moved with his wife and two young children into a one-room shack and with the help of his family company, JA Construction, began building Love Valley in 1954.
The town was chartered in 1963 and had all the makings of a quintessential cowboy town. There’s a general store, various cowboy-themed local businesses, including Muley’s Leather, plenty of dirt roads and a quaint church overlooking town limits in the foothills of the Brushy Mountains. But the most interesting thing about the small town? There are no cars allowed inside the town. That’s right, all travel is done by horseback or horsedrawn carriage. There are 2,000 acres of horseback riding trails all around the town with hitching posts along Main Street for you to “park” your ride. Visitors can stop by Shelby’s Place in town for a map to see where in city limits that can ride their horse around the trails.
The town is one of North Carolina’s best attractions. President Lyndon B. Johnson once rode through town on a stagecoach. In the 1970s, the town hosted the Love Valley Rock Festival, featuring the Allman Brothers, Tony Joe White and more.
The small town has evolved to bring visitors who love horses and cowboy culture. Want to feel like Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke? Stay at Miss Kitty’s Room and Board and stop by the local saloon. Want to see an authentic rodeo? Visit the Diamond S Arena. Be sure to follow the town’s Facebook page for an up to date list of events and activities.