At the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains is the Town of North Wilkesboro, coined the “Key to the Blue Ridge”. North Wilkesboro began with a simple transaction of land in 1848 between John Finley and Augustus Finley. Four thousand dollars purchased “a certain tract of land” on the north side of the Yadkin River. This was combined with land purchased by the Reddies River to form North Wilkesboro. An agreement signed between Wilkes County Commissioners and North Western North Carolina Railroad Company in 1888 furthered the growth of the fledgling town. The Town of North Wilkesboro was incorporated on March 4, 1891. See Town Charter.
An upstart from the beginning, The Town of North Wilkesboro became the center of industry and commerce while across the river, Wilkesboro remained the center of government .The railroad brought a great deal of industry to North Wilkesboro and Wilkes County including the C.C. Smoot Tannery, Winston Land and Improvement Company, and the Giant Lumber Company and Flume. Built around the train’s depot, Downtown North Wilkesboro began to flourish in the late 1890s and early 1900s.