Rock Springs Campmeeting
200+ years of memories and still going strong...
The Rock Spring Methodist Camp Ground located at the edge of Denver, is the oldest religious camp ground in America. Rev. Daniel Asbury, a pioneer minister from Virginia started the movement at nearby Terrell in 1794. Camp Meetings were held there for three or four years, then moved to Bethel Methodist Church near Denver. In the early 1800's the annual Camp Meeting was moved to a new location about nine miles south of Denver and was called Roby’s Camp Ground.
On October 3, 1828, the third Quarterly Conference of the Lincolnton Methodist Circuit authorized the lease or purchase of Roby’s Camp Ground. The site did not offer adequate water and the present campus of 40 acres was purchased with the first camp meeting at Denver being held in1830.
For three years services were held under a Brush Arbor. The permanent 1,000 seat arbor, which is still in use was built prior to the 1832 meeting. The structure of this famous old arbor, was made from hand hewn timbers and put together with wooden pegs. How they were erected to their places without mechanical devices, is still a mystery.
The Camp Ground was incorporated in a Legislative Act of 1851, for use of the Methodist Church with a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees.
The Camp Meeting is held each year with religious services beginning the first Sunday in August with three services daily under the ancient arbor. Thousands of people camp for two and three weeks in 255 crude wooden structures that are referred to as "tents". Most of the "tents" have been handed down from one generation to the next with many having family connections dating back well over 100 years. When it’s not camp meeting and the camp ground and tents are quiet and deserted, folks who pass by that don’t know about camp meeting don’t understand why it hasn’t been demolished.
"It is a rare happening when a tent is sold and someone without Rock Spring connections has an opportunity to purchase one of these unique structures," stated campground trustee Van Barker, Jr.. "I get numerous telephone calls from one camp meeting to the next with the caller always asking the same question, do I know of a tent that can be purchased?."
Tents have been known to sell for as high as $45,000 and the buyer doesn’t even get a deed for any real estate. Their only claim is the right to occupy the structure during the annual camp meeting.
All concerts are free. Those planning to attend are encouraged to bring lawn chairs as the Arbor traditionally overflows with those that love Gospel Music. For the lawn chair patrons the Arbor is surrounded by a sloped grassed area that allows for excellent and comfortable viewing.
The Rock Spring Methodist Campground established in 1830 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 by the United States Department of Interior, a rarity for a religious property. Only when such properties are of primary historical nature are they included in the register.
The Rock Spring Methodist Campground is located 1/2-mile east of Hwy. NC 16 in Denver on Campground Road. For additional information call (704) 483-2710.