Restaurant Split by 3 Counties

On November 3, 2009 · 4 Comments

NOTE: IN 2015 I VISITED FAMOUS LOUISE’S IN PERSON!

A restaurant sitting atop the intersection of three different counties? If I were ever to ever become a restaurateur, that would be the place that I’d have to own. Loyal reader Glenn from Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina(1), has been following the Twelve Mile Circle for the last several months. He saw just such a restaurant mentioned on his local PBS television station the other night and thought of me. Thank you, Glenn. Some of my most memorable articles come from user suggestions just like yours.

This tri-county honor goes to Famous Louise’s Rock House in Linville Falls, North Carolina, which claims to rest directly atop the intersection of Burke, McDowell, and Avery Counties. Google Maps doesn’t have county lines but OpenStreetMap does, and here’s what it shows for Linville Falls.



View Larger Map

It’s a bit difficult to tell if all the lines actually meet on top of the restaurant because I’ve noticed before that county lines on this site are often just a bit off. Nonetheless it seems to be within the margin of error. It appears to be a fairly decent possibility based on a quick eyeball examination.



Famous Louise’s Rock House was once called the Linville Falls Tavern and it dates back to the first half of the Twentieth Century. It’s also listed on the National Register of Historic Places under its original name.

According to the Avery County Historical Museum,

By walking across the dining room, you visit three of the state’s counties. The food is cooked in Avery County, but the waitresses pick it up in Burke! Then they may have to go to Avery or McDowell to serve their customers. Or maybe both – a few tables sit right on the county lines… When you’re done eating at the Rock House, it’s only a few steps to the cash register – in Avery County – and back to your car – in McDowell. Unless you park on the right side of the building, then you’re in Burke.

This is now included on my extensive list of places I need to visit someday. Readers should always feel free to pass along any tips or suggestions. I never would have learned about this wonderful place otherwise.

(1)Interesting name, Kill Devil Hills. It’s notable on various levels. Wikipedia claims that the name derives from rum that was strong enough to "kill the devil." It was allegedly scavenged from shipwrecks and hidden in the nearby dunes during the colonial period. It lacks a citation so it might just be folklore. I dunno. On the other hand, the location definitely figured more prominently in history in 1903 when the Wright Brothers took their famous flight here, on this spot just south of Kitty Hawk.

On November 3, 2009 · 4 Comments

4 Responses to “Restaurant Split by 3 Counties”

  1. Alger says:

    I used to work in that area, and have been here. Certainly worth a visit. This is the heart of the North Carolina gem region, and Spruce Pine has little rock shoppes everywhere near the Parkway, and just south is the original US mint.
    Just a note though on the whole county boundary thing: my job there involved land surveys and one thing you learn about NC is that precision is not a characteristic of county boundaries locations. Neither do they care. The restaurant’s claim that it sits in three counties is probably enough to make it true and if there ever is a definitive survey made it will be sure to route the boundaries right through the dining room to keep it true.

    Makes you wonder how they assess taxes…

    • That’s the coolest thing I’ve heard in days. Now I really, really want to visit that restaurant and get one of the tables that straddle the border, or maybe make one up on my own. 🙂

  2. Glenn says:

    The town gets it’s name from Kill Devil Hill, the dune that the Wright Brothers flew glider tests off of, before flying the Wright Flyer from level ground. One of the other explanations for the name comes from an old legend. It seems that a local resident made a deal with the devil many years ago. He was to meet the Devil atop a local sand dune to give his soul away, but, he changed his mind soon before the meet was to take place. So, he dug a hole in the top of the dune, and when the devil arrived for the meeting, our intrepid local buried him there.

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