Here’s a Funny Story: The Other Chapel Hill

There are two Chapel Hill’s in North Carolina. I’m not kidding. I’m really not. Don’t worry, I had no idea either. Let’s compare both of them.

First, the background: I work at AAA in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I help people with directions. I’ve often been asked to map out a route to Chapel Hill. That part’s easy. However, when I put it in the computer, there are two counties the name “Chapel Hill” shows up in: Orange county and Madison county. Um, say what? Madison county? Where is that? Is that actually in North Carolina?

Yes, it is. It’s actually where I’ve spent many summers. Madison County, North Carolina, is where my grandmother lives. It’s about forty-five minutes northwest of Asheville. There’s one stop light in the entire county and that’s in the county’s capital of Marshall. Actually, you’re more likely to find moonshine than government buildings. I take that back. You’re most definitely more likely to find mason jars of moonshine—Madison County is a “dry” county. This part of North Carolina is where NASCAR was born. It was moonshiners outrunning the law with fast cars.

There’s one school in the entire county. There’s 20,000 people in the entire county. Chapel Hill is a small road in the geographically large, but sparsely populated county. I mean, I’m talking tiny.

The Chapel Hill in Orange County has nearly 60,000 people, a nationally recognized athletic and academic program, and the home of UNC Healthcare. It’s the location where most everyone thinks of when they hear “UNC.” They don’t even have to hear the “Chapel Hill” part. If I was born and raised in Western North Carolina, my grandmother lives in Madison County, and I’ve never even heard of the “Chapel Hill of Madison County,” then I guess it’s safe assuming Chapel Hill refers to the one in Orange county.

Just the fact that you know there’s another one though, kind of makes you appreciate the Chapel Hill’s of North Carolina even more.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Chapel Hill

  • Vicki Lane

    Son, how long since you visited your grandmother?. There are a lot more traffic lights than you remember in Madison County; you can buy beer and wine in Marshall; and there are many schools in Madison County — only one high school though.

    • Madison Local

      There are two if you count the Early College High School

  • Suzanne DuVall

    I realize that you were being witty, but those of us in Madison County may fail to find the humor in some of your falacies about the place. We have four elementary schools, a middle school, a high school, an early college high school, a community college, and a four year college. We aren’t quite the ignorant souls you imply. You should visit the “government buildings” in the county sometime. Then see if it isn’t easier to find them than a quart of shine. Perhaps you simply drove through the county via the by-pass in Marshall, which has one traffic light. Get out a little next time and explore the towns of Hot Springs, Mars Hill, and Marshall. You’ll be surprised just what you’ll find. Who knows? You might find something upon which you won’t want to look down your nose.

    • jojo

      I’m sorry but I didn’t see much “witty” in this article. I saw space filler and not much else.

  • Brickbats

    Wow, who knew you could receive a BFA in writing without learning basic research skills! Way to show us all how ‘AWESOME’ UNC’s teaching staff is. What did you do, write every factual paper you were faced with off of Wikipedia?

    P.S. Maybe you’ve heard of Google Maps/Earth, or, oh, I dunno. The Census? I’m pretty sure these tools are just a teensy bit more reliable than those sketchy memories from when you were five.

    • Taylor Dodge

      As a Madison County graduate and student of UNC Chapel Hill, I appreciate the stance you’ve taken regarding this article; however, I would like to make one clarification. The author received his degree from UNC Wilmington, not UNC (Chapel Hill) and therefore this work should not be seen as a reflection on that university. In my personal experience UNC does have a pretty extraordinary teaching staff and it is a shame that this author did not benefit from it.

  • jojo

    I know what the funny part is: a supposed journalist who doesn’t check his facts before he spews out garbage! He’s the funny part because he evidently can’t find anything intelligent to write.

  • Taylor Dodge

    As a fellow writer I understand the need to generate entertaining articles, but you should never do it by promulgating stereotypes at others’ expense. Yes, Madison County does have fewer schools, stoplights, and people than most other NC counties, but I’ll take one stoplight in a quiet town surrounded by good people before the hustle and bustle of Charlotte (with the highest crime rate in the state) any day. Your sort of generalizations and misrepresentations are just the things that make it harder for high achieving Madison County students like me to get into schools like UNC because you’re contributing to a very real geographic prejudice. Madison County schools is one of the most poorly funded systems in NC’s public schools. Now I am a 6 semester Dean’s List student at UNC and I’m proving every day that Madison County is home to more than a shine drinking, uneducated mob. Please be aware that you’re helping to create a inaccurate reputation which could drastically effect the lives of young people in the area. Don’t make it more difficult for this population, which already enjoys fewer opportunities than most, to fill the achievement gap between itself and “the real Chapel Hill.”

  • Madison Local

    WOW!!!!!!!!! Whoever gave you a degree should be closed down IMMEDIATELY! Heres the truth on Madison County NC, there are a total 7 redlights, you might find 15 moonshine stills left in the county, there are 4 elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and one early college high school, according to the 2010 census madison has 80,000 people (more than Chapel Hill if you listen to this guys facts). Note for the author, please stay out of Madison County, we dont like ignorance from people who run their mouths with no basis in fact. Madison County is one of the few places left on Earth where you can go and not fight interstates to get everywhere. From now on keep the subject of your articles OFF of Madison County.