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North Carolina City Turns Slum into Popular History Center


Across the United States there are several good-sized cities that are so close together, people think of them as one place. Minneapolis and Saint Paul in Minnesota, for instance. We call them the "Twin Cities." And there's Winston-Salem, N.C.

Winston-Salem is in fact one city, one of several middlin'-sized towns in North Carolina's Appalachian foothills. The Winston part is relatively new, founded in the early 1900s. It's a textile center and home to the nation's biggest open-air tobacco market. In fact, Winston is the name of one of the nation's favorite cigarette brands.

As Winston grew, it surrounded the much older town of Salem, so in 1913 people in the area voted to make them a single city and call it Winston- Salem.

Salem -- or Old Salem as it's called today -- was founded in the mid-1700s by the Moravians, a strict Protestant sect originally from what is now the Czech Republic and eastern Germany. The pious Moravians, who spoke German, housed men and women in separate dormitories called "choirs." But they also kept taverns and sold supplies to rough-hewn frontiersmen like the legendary explorer Daniel Boone.

By the 1950s, Salem was a slum. That changed when a nonprofit group fixed up the historic area and created a living history museum. It's not a theme park. There are no roller coaster rides. The emphasis is on demonstrations of such things as women's chores. The idea worked, for tourism in Old Salem now generates millions of dollars in revenue every year.

And there's one more must-see tourist attraction, if you have a weakness for Krispy Kreme donuts, a sticky-sweet confection beloved in the South and now available everywhere through a worldwide franchise. The company's very first donut was sold in Winston-Salem, at a Krispy Kreme shop that's still in business.

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