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Forest City is located six miles east of Rutherfordton, the county seat, and is situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. The town is interconnected by three US highways, 74, 221, 64, and one state highway 108. What is now Forest City began as a crossroads on the Shelby-Rutherfordton and Spartanburg-Lincolnton Roads. Originally incorporated as Burnt Chimney in 1877, the name was changed to Forest City in 1887. A replica near the site of the original chimney is still part of the public square. The “chimney” was the remains of the McArthur home that marked the crossroads. According to census data there were 110 residents in the small crossroads town in 1880 and ten years later 419 people lived in Forest City. By 1910, 12 passenger trains daily were coming through Forest City which now had electric lights, water, and a population of 1,090.
In 1914, the Forest City Betterment Club embarked on a project to beautify the town's Main Street. The original landscaped medians and fountain still exist. In 1927, the town was selected as one of the ten most beautiful and best planned towns in the United States by the Department of Agriculture. By 1940, Forest City had 4,068 residents and had established itself as the commercial hub of the County. Today, the population of Forest City is approximately 7,450 and the town remains the commercial hub of the County.
Forest City has many unique attractions that include the Bennett Classical Auto Museum and the Rutherford County Farm Museum, a museum dedicated to historical farm artifacts. In August, Forest City hosts the Hot Nights, Cool Rides event where you can see many classic vehicles downtown. During the Christmas season one of the region’s most popular events, the Christmas Lights display, takes place and the downtown area is filled with over 500,000 lights and you can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride.
Walk down Main Street anytime of the year and visit one of the restaurants, coffee shop, or the local drug store and enjoy the hospitality and relaxing atmosphere that is Forest City. Main street is lined with Live Oak, more commonly known as Southern Live Oak, which is a normally evergreen oak tree native to the Southeastern United States. Also, free WiFi internet has been provided in the downtown business district parking areas and inside restaurants by City Computers since 2006. As you leave downtown and enter the historic residential section of East Main Street, the street is lined with maple trees, each in memory of a fallen World War II soldier.
Forest City is also home to Bob McNair, the owner of the NFL’s Houston Texans. He is also a graduate of East Rutherford High School and has given back and invested extensively to the community. As a result of his investment in the community, Forest City is home to the Forest City Owls baseball club which is a member of the Coastal Plain League (a collegiate summer league). The Owls play in the stadium built by Mr. McNair in 2008 and that bears his name, McNair Field. The Owls play from May thru August and won the CPL championship in 2009 with a record of 51-9. They repeated as league champions in 2010 and were the #1 ranked collegiate summer team in America. An affordable and enjoyable experience for the entire family. The area’s own “Field of Dreams”!
Forest City has an active Department of Recreation whose mission statement is “The Recreation Department’s goal is to actively encourage, provide, promote, and protect quality leisure, recreation and cultural opportunities, facilities and environments that are essential for the enhancement of the lives of our citizens.” The Forest City Department of Parks and recreation promotes and encourages participation for all ages through its various programs. There is an Adult Basketball League and an Adult Volleyball League, as well as two senior citizen clubs with 115 members. Approximately 1,200 children participate in recreation programs including youth football, youth cheerleading, club soccer, recreational youth basketball, AAU/YBOA basketball, little league baseball, and a swim team.
Forest city also has the Clay Street Pool, the Callison Recreation Center which has a weight room and a gymasium, a 9-hole Municipal Golf Course that is home to many local tournaments, and a clubhouse/meeting facility that includes large meeting/dining room, sitting room, commercial kitchen and furnished patio that can accommodate groups of up to 200 people.
Copyright 2011 David Brown