Location and Directions
Rural Hill is located at 4431 Neck Road Huntersville, NC 28078.
Traveling north on I-77
Take exit 18, W.T. Harris Blvd. Turn left and proceed 1.7 miles west to Mt. Holly-Huntersville Rd. Turn left and go 1.2 miles to Beatties Ford Rd. Turn right and proceed north 3 miles to Neck Rd. Turn left on Neck Rd.
and continue 2.2 miles. The entrance to Rural Hill is on your right.
Traveling south on I-77
Take exit 25, Hwy. 73/Sam Furr Rd. Turn right and proceed 1.3 miles west. Continue left onto Hwy. 73/West Catawba Ave. for another 1.9 miles to Beatties Ford Rd. Turn left and proceed 3.6 miles to Neck Rd. Turn right on Neck Rd. and continue for approximately 2.2 miles. The entrance to Rural Hill is on your right.
History and Description
Rural Hill Nature Preserve protects 487 acres adjacent to Mountain Island Lake, including 3.2 miles of shoreline. Parcels for this property were acquired between 1991 and 1993. Much of the preserve (265 acres) is managed as a historic site in partnership with the Catawba Valley Scottish Society.
The land that is now Rural Hill was formerly owned by Major John Davidson. Davidson settled here in 1760 and built a magnificent plantation home on this land in 1788. He was a signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in 1775 and served in the Mecklenburg County militia during the American Revolution. He and his wife Violet had 10 children and developed a very prosperous life here on the Carolina Piedmont. The Davidson mansion burned down in 1886 and all that remains are some of the pillars to the house and a few related outbuildings.
Education and Programs
Rural Hill is the site of several annual festivals including the Rural Hill Scottish Festival and Loch Norman Highland Games (April), the Amazing Maize Maze (late September – early November), and the Sheep Dog Trails (November). The Catawba Valley Scottish Society also offers educational programs for groups. Guided site tours are $6 per person.
The Rural Hill is generally open to the public 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Monday- Saturday, but may depend on staff availability. Parking is near the farmhouse at 4431 Neck Rd, Huntersville. Call ahead for availability and details at 704.875.3113 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today you can still see some original structures that were part of the Davidson family's Rural Hill plantation, including a well house and ash house. A farm house serves as the headquarters of the Catawba Valley Scottish Society. On the first floor of the house, one room has been decorated with furnishings provided by May Davidson, a descendant of John Davidson. Another room serves as a museum of the Davidson Family and other important early families of the region with Scottish or Scots-Irish heritage.
In addition to the Davidson plantation, preserved on the site is the one-room Davidson Schoolhouse, as well as the Bethesda African-American Schoolhouse. The latter was relocated to Rural Hill. Also within Rural Hill is the privately-owned Davidson Family Burying Ground – a cemetery for the John Davidson family and his descendants.
For more information about Historic Rural Hill Inc., go to http://www.ruralhill.net/.
A loop trail goes around the perimeter of the historic Rural Hill farm and is approximately 2.5 miles long.
Flora and Fauna
The hayfields of Rural Hill provide habitat for some locally rare or uncommon nesting birds. Grasshopper Sparrows (rare) have been found here during the nesting season. Killdeer can often be seen along the driveways to the farm house. Throughout the year look for Eastern Bluebirds, Savannah Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks. In summer scan the power lines along Neck Road for Blue Grosbeaks and Indigo Buntings.
The high terrain and open fields of Rural Hill provide rural vistas and an opportunity to scan the skies for raptors. Red-tailed Hawks and Red-shouldered Hawks can be seen year round, while in the warmer months (March – November) look for Osprey. Bald Eagle sightings are also possible, due to the preserve's proximity to Mountain Island Lake and the Catawba River. Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures are common.