Founded on April 19, 1774 as the county seat of Richmond County, Rockingham was named after former Prime Minister Charles Watson Wentonworth, the Marquis of Rockingham and a steadfast supporter of the Thirteen Colonies.
Nearly two and a half centuries later, Rockingham today offers endless outdoor activities at a variety of scenic and natural areas that include the Pee Dee River and National Wildlife Refuge, the Sandhills Game Management Area and Blewett Falls Lake. Hunters and fishermen alike enjoy the area for its bountiful supply of deer, dove, turkey and other small game and fish.
Along with local motorsports, the Rockingham Dragway also offers year round shows and festivals that bring thousands of people from all over the country to events like the 17th Annual Apple Chill – The Biggest Car Show in the World – scheduled this year for May 6.
And of course, whether you’re vacationing in the area or just passing through on a road trip to points elsewhere, be sure to stop at the Stuckey’s Express. You’ll find it inside the Quik Chek convenience store and Sunoco gas station alongside Hardees on Route 1 in Rockingham. (Incidentally, the first Hardee’s was built in 1960 by Wilber Hardee just a few miles north of Rockingham in Greenville.)
Once you’ve relaxed with some of the “best eatin’ in town, up and down and all around”, refreshed your supply of cold drinks and pecan log rolls, and refueled your tank with Sunoco gasoline, check out these things to see and do near the Stuckey’s of Rockingham.
The World’s Biggest Strawberry / Ellerbe, NC
From Muffler Men to coffee pots the size of water towers – you know Stuckey’s likes to search out all things big on our road trips. That being said, you know we couldn’t pass by Ellerbe, North Carolina without checking out a couple of big things in and around their town. We’ll start with The Berry Patch, home of the World’s Largest Strawberry.
Lee Berry started The Berry Farm in 1995, and at first, he and his wife Amy would sell the fruits of his labor out of the back of his pickup truck along US 220. However, with all the traffic just zooming by, they knew they needed something unique to get passing motorists to stop and notice their business.
It took the couple five months to build the World’s Largest Strawberry which included an ice cream shop and plenty of room for the Berry’s berries.
And it worked!
People from all over were soon stopping by for a cone of hand-dipped ice cream and a few pints or quarts of berries, and of course, a selfie with the World’s Largest Strawberry.
However, it wasn’t all peaches strawberries and cream just yet for the Berry’s. In 2011, highway construction forced them to move the big berry building just a little up the road to where it sits today. Now those traveling US 220, I-73, and I-74 just south of Ellerbe slow down and stop in for all kinds of treats including produce and preserves, sauces and salad dressings and of course, ice cream and berries. They also take a few selfies with giant berry before they’re headed back out on the road again.
Stop in and try some for yourself – and don’t forget your own selfie with the World’s Largest Strawberry!
André the Giant /Ellerbe, NC
While your this close to town, head on up US 220 to the Rankin Museum of American Heritage on the corner of Church and 2nd Street in Ellerbe. The museum features one of the best Native American artifact collections in North Carolina along with animal mounts from all over the world including a life-size polar bear, an American bison, a mountain lion, and a 14 ft. alligator named Jeff.
Still, we can’t mention things of size around Ellerbe without mentioning professional wrestler and actor André Roussimoff – better known by his ring name “André the Giant”.
In the world of professional wrestling, there was never a grappler as big in both size and adoration as André the Giant. Billed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, at 7’-4” and weighing 520 pounds, André was indeed larger than life. However, even giants need a place to feel like a regular guy now and then and André chose Ellerbe to be that place for him.
In the 1970s, Andre bought a 3,500-square-foot home on a 46-acre ranch in Ellerbe, complete with a custom made recliner from which he would often watch movies, drink beer, fall asleep and thunderously snore until way after dawn. More importantly, it was a quiet place where the gentle giant sought refuge from the gawkers and autograph hounds and he could just be himself away from the sideshow atmosphere of professional wrestling.
After he passed away on January 27, 1993, Andre’s ashes were spread across his beloved ranch in Ellerbe. Today, the Rankin Museum of American Heritage honors their adopted hometown hero with an exhibit full of all sorts of Andre the Giant memorabilia from his size 24 wrestling boots to a doll of the character Fezzik – a role that Andre played in the film “The Princess Bride”.
Hours of the museum are Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10AM to 5PM; Sundays, 2PM to 5PM. The museum is open Mondays and Tuesdays by appointment only.
Admission is $4 for Adults; $1 for student from ages 5 to 18; $3.00 if you are an AAA member and under 4 are admitted free. For more information, call the museum at (910) 652-6378 or visit their website here.
The Hamlet Depot and Museums / Hamlet, NC
The town of Hamlet in south-central North Carolina got its start as a railroad town and was one the division headquarters for the Seaboard Air Line Railroad. During the railroad’s heydays, more than 30 passenger trains came through the boomtown that once saw quite a number of hotels, shops, and restaurants pop up along its tracks. With all that in mind, it’s no wonder that town houses one of the finest railroad museums in the country.
The Hamlet Depot and Museums is located inside one of the only Victorian Queen Anne train stations in North Carolina. Here you can learn all about the history of both the town and the Seaboard Airline Museum through hands-on, interactive exhibits and visual displays. You’ll also see many one-of-a-kind exhibits and model railroads throughout the museum that seems to have something for everyone.
The museum is open Monday through Friday from 8AM to 5PM and Saturdays and Sundays from 1PM to 5PM. The museum is closed on most federal holidays. Admission is free. For more information, call the museums at 910-582-0603 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Coltrane / Hamlet, NC
John William Coltrane was born right here in Hamlet at 200 Hamlet Avenue on September 23, 1926. He would grow up 86 miles away in High Point, North Carolina, and go on to become a jazz saxophonist, bandleader, composer, and one of the most influential figures in the history of jazz and 20th-century music until his untimely death from liver cancer at the age of 40.
When Dr. Fred McQueen found out from Coltrane’s uncle, John Blair, that a pile of bricks laying in a heap at 200 Hamlet Avenue was once the building where John Coltrane was born, Dr. McQueen knew he had to do something. So, in the late 1980s, Dr. McQueen and the late Dr. Wendell Wells started reconstructing the building brick by brick.
On September 23, 2020 – on what would have been John Coltrane’s 94th birthday – Dr. McQueen opened Coltrane’s Blueroom. For now, the museum features a collection of Coltrane memorabilia. Visitors can browse photos and paintings of Coltrane hung on walls of blue while the music of the “Jazz Messiah” plays in the background. Souvenirs such as posters, photos and a t-shirt with Coltrane’s image along with vinyl records and CDs of John Coltrane are also available.
Just around the corner from Coltrane’s Blueroom at the intersection of Raleigh and Vance Streets, you’ll also find a giant mural of Coltrane painted by artist Scott Nurkin that was also completed in 2020.
From roadside giants to wrestling giants to jazz giants, no matter where you’re traveling around North Carolina, be sure to take some Stuckey’s along for the ride.
Now stock up on our iconic Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls, Stuckey’s Pecan Pralines and all sorts of our other road trip snacks and have them sent to your home before you even leave your driveway for your next big road adventure.
And with summer coming, don’t forget our Stuckey’s branded caps and t-shirts will help to keep you looking and feeling cool all road trip season long. And of course, you can count on a variety of our travel mugs to help keep your drinks cool, too.
For all of this and more, browse our website today – only at stuckeys.com.
Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again
Whether your next road trip is by car or by rail, it’s not really a road trip without taking Stuckey’s along. From our world famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls to our mouthwatering Hunkey Dorey, Stuckey’s has all the road trips snacks you’ll need to get you where you’re going.
For all of the pecany good treats and cool merch you’ll need for your next big road adventure, browse our online store now!
Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!