On our Sunday ride to Salem Lake, we head down Fourth Street and turn right on Church Street behind Winston Tower. We will continue on Church Street into Old Salem’s Moravian cemetery. Moravians refer to their cemeteries as “God’s Acre” (not always necessarily an acre). In 1857 the town acquired an adjacent area for the nondenominational Salem Cemetery. Many prominent families are buried there, most notable being the family plot where R.J. Reynolds and wife Katharine are buried. You will see a stark difference in the style of grave markers of the two cemeteries.
Next, we cut across to Rams Blvd to Winston Salem State University where we can pick up the Salem Creek greenway. WSSU is an historic black university now part of the UNC system. In 1890, Dr. Simon Green Atkins who was on the faculty of Livingston College was asked to come to Winston to be the first principal of the Depot Street graded school for African Americans. He later went on to establish the Winston Salem Teacher’s College which would later become WSSU.
The greenway will take us past Bowman Gray stadium. The stadium was built in 1938 from a WPA grant. It has hosted a variety of events but is best know for auto racing. The quarter-mile track has held weekly NASCAR sanctioned racing since 1949. Further on the greenway we pass the 18th green of the Reynolds Park golf course. The links were designed by Ellis Maples and opened in 1930. We will climb the greenway to the top side of the dam. The dam was replaced in 2010 and the lake was refilled at the completion about 2 years later. The original dam was constructed in 1919. The lake is a great fishing and recreational facility and also provides 20 percent of the city’s drinking water. We will turn back at that point but it should be noted that a seven mile trail continues around the lake. The trail is kept in great shape for biking, hiking and running however can be a little rough on our road bikes. It is worth bringing your mountain, hybrid or cyclocross bike out sometime for a nice scenic ride any time of the year.
On the return from Salem Lake, we climb up a challenging hill beside WSSU and head back into Old Salem. We will cross over the city’s oldest surviving bridge (1883) as we leave Old Salem on Academy Street. But of peculiar interest is a tree at its side that for months, perhaps years, has mysteriously collected orphaned toys. We have yet to find the origin of this practice.
On this particular route, we will return via Green Street, passing Piedmont Bible College (founded in 1945 and now called Piedmont International University). Further up, we pass by the BB&T ballpark, home of our minor league team, the Winston Salem Dash. Then back to our starting point.