LANSING — The Town of Lansing has been tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a number of years, being one of Ashe County’s best-kept secrets. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, that secret has been released and the town has been growing more than ever within the past year.

Project Manager for the Greater Lansing Area Development Rene Shuford said that the pandemic, though it has been a tragic event for our country and world, was a blessing in disguise for the town. New businesses have opened their doors to locals and tourists, the Lansing Creeper Trail Park has upgraded for events, fishing, walking and more, the Lost Province Center for Cultural Arts has been booming with classes for all ages and fairs and the town itself is getting beautified more and more as time goes on.

“We want to spread the word on this wonderful place,” said Shuford. “We have opened up a lot of opportunities for businesses and housing within the past few years.”

Shuford and long-time historian Jim Parsons spoke on the newest addition to the town, the Old Orchard Creek General Store. The store is located right in downtown Lansing and offers Hatchet Coffee, books, an array of foods, handmade leather accessories, wine and more.

“This has been a blessing to the town,” said Shuford. “Business has been booming with the free concerts put on by the business as well as the addition to new menu items coming up in the future.”

The store is planning on upgrading their menu with more baked goods including sandwiches with breads provided by Stick Boy located in Boone. Their outdoor patio offers a breath of fresh air for customers as well as the enjoyment of live music which is provided a few times each month. Visit their Facebook page for updates on concerts and more.

Shuford said the town has only continued to grow over the years, seeing many of the vacant buildings in town are now being or are in the process of being bought.

“We’re very excited about this,” said Shuford. “The strip towards the end of town is being renovated, including the old barber shop which my friend and I purchased. We don’t know what we’re going to do with it quite yet, but we’re working on it.”

Part of the strip is going to be an outfitters store, which has not set a timeline for the project. Just beside the building there is going to have a garden center, a gift shop and possibly a space for cooking classes and a small brewery. Talks of a new Mexican restaurant is also in the works as you first enter town.

The old bank building, bought by James Little John, is going to be a wood shop gallery as well as a place for woodwork classes. The upstairs will be held for receptions. This project has been in the works for two years and is nearly finished, according to Parsons and Shuford.

Apartments are in the top floor of nearly all of the buildings, many obtained by long-time locals and some soon to become associated with Airbnb.

The Lost Province Center for Cultural Arts is also a popular attraction for the town. The LPCCA is now located in the old school building in Lansing and is a place where classes of all sorts are held for the public. Cooking classes, clay classes, arts classes and more are offered. The building is currently in renovation and they hope to build apartments in the upper half for students and long-time stays.

Molly Chomper hard cider is another popular attraction for locals and tourists. It is located just behind the LPCCA, but is currently closed for business due to renovations.

When first entering Lansing, you will see the Lansing Creeper Trail Park, which allows for walking, biking and more. A dog park is located on site along with a newly rebuilt barn for all sorts of occasions. The creek is one of the best sites for fly and trout fishing. Grills for all of your barbecue needs are also located across the park. Concerts, weddings, receptions, dinners and more are all part of the park. Shuford and Parsons are hoping for a connection from the Virginia Creeper Trail to the Lansing park in the future, which has been spoken of between the two.

Cash Bingo has been offered for a few years on the first and third Thursday night of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the barn, but has since been postponed since the beginning of the pandemic. Shuford and Parsons are hoping to get that going again as soon as possible.

A weekly Farmers Market is offered every Friday in the town at the park from 1 to 5 p.m. There are food vendors, arts and craft vendors, soaps, pumpkins and more.

Amy Anne apparel, located just beside the post office is one of the small businesses in Lansing, printing their own clothing, selling top-notch ladies clothing and also offering an online Etsy shop.

“I think thins will get better in the world and we’re in a pretty good situation, though COVID-19 has hit hard,” said Shuford. “I’m an eternal optimist and I think things will continue looking up. Outdoor-wise, this is where everyone is coming. We’re tucked away in the mountains and no one knows what Lansing is unless you’re around here, but people are starting to recognize it.

“We don’t seem to have enough accommodations for people, even locals. Land is being bought quickly, rentals are booked and the housing market has been skyrocketing, but I think it’s a good situation to have because it shows that people truly do want to live here.

“The town would love to campaign our outdoor resources. Since it is so hidden and not highly populated, it is sometimes hard to get the word out. But now, everybody has found Ashe County and the secret is out. We’d love for more people to take advantage of the town and what it has to offer.”

The town now has free wifi within its premises, mainly due to lockdown from the pandemic. Schools had to become remote and people had to work from home, leading many to rely on internet for their work. Parsons said it has only allowed growth for the rural area.

Shuford and Parsons said a pedestrian walking trail is also in the works, which will run from LPCCA down through the town. It will be tucked in so people will not have to walk in the streets.

The Beautification committee for the town came up with an idea last Jan. to encourage businesses to clean up their exterior. The businesses received a guide to abide by and Old Orchard Creek General Store was the winner of the beautification award.

The committee has also produced new welcome signs for the town, a new sign for the park and a few others being placed near the Virginia line, the Piney Creek area and the Helton area. A new map of the area is also being produced by Dennis Lawson along with a new Kiosk at the entrance of town.

The main road is now a scenic byway in Lansing. A brand new Bridge in town has been built and is set to be filled with flower boxes to add to the beauty of the area.

In 2019, the total population of Lansing was 202 and has been growing ever since. The town welcomes all tourists and locals to enjoy its beautiful offers.

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