A Family Legacy Continues
Mountain Stream RV Park
By Tina M. Wolfe
DEEP ROOTSWhat is it about a place that gives us a sense of belonging? Is it because we were born there? Is it because we hold deep ancestral roots or even that its beauty and sense of simplicity speaks to our nature?
For Jim Gibson and his family, it’s all of the above. Although born in Charlotte, Gibson can trace his McDowell roots back three generations. He along with his sons-in-law Tyler Mace and Austin Brooks purchased the Mountain Stream RV Park in December 2019 that is located on land his family bear hunted generations ago.
During our interview, he fondly shared stories of regular trips to visit both his Gibson and Westmoreland grandparents. As he detailed his family tree, I feebly attempted to keep up, scribbling down names and drawing arrows to follow the evolution of what is today, a McDowell Family legacy.
Tales of bear hunting, business building, community service, and even dairy farming were shared with genuine respect and pride in the ethics, vigor, and enthusiasm with which his family contributed to the life and growth of McDowell County. His maternal grandfather, Sig Westmoreland, started Westmoreland Funeral Home in 1932 and the Westmoreland’s history in McDowell dates back even further to a Glenwood dairy farm from 1912. The Gibson-Westmoreland line connects to the Gibbs of Pleasant Gardens through the marriage of Sig Westmoreland and Delia Gibbs. Delia’s brother Bill owned the famed Lake Tahoma Steakhouse and introduced McDowell to the “buffet” concept as well as Bear Supper that drew 200 to 300 people according to Bill’s son Pete Gibbs. Many of the homesteads along the start of U.S. Hwy. 80 remain in the Gibbs family. Bill owned 1,500 acres of land between Montreat and the Parkway where he led bear hunting expeditions with guaranteed success, Gibson said. “People would come from all over to participate and he would serve it at the restaurant.”
Archived on McdowellHistory.com, the popularity and draw of the Lake Tahoma Steak House and rock cabins that Bill built across the street drew locals, tourists, and young honeymooners to our mountains for decades.
Building On A LegacyIn a providential turn of events, Jim, Tyler, and Austin who had been looking for land to build and run a campground learned about the opportunity to purchase the Mountain Stream RV Park. “The boys had been looking to find land to build a campground and none had worked out,” said Jim. “This was just meant to be.”
The three worked closely with the owner, Gena Middleton, who had just lost her husband. A month before even purchasing the campground they volunteered helping her with the day to day operations and even after the purchase she lived there while looking for a place down in Florida.
“She is just a really sweet lady and was so wonderful to work with,” Jim said. “She wasn’t experienced in the day-to-day operations so coming up and helping her also allowed me to learn about the campgrounds and get to know her.” He even made sure to check up on her in her Florida home after the recent storm.
There were very few changes made as the Middletons had taken exceptionally good care of the campground and even added three Yurt cabins. Putting a focus on family, Tyler and Austin—being young husbands and fathers themselves—built a playground located next to the dog park. They were able to open on May 7, 2020, from the COVID closure and have been full ever since, Jim said. “There are new people but there also many that have been coming here for years,” he added.
This family-fun, family-run campground has Jim running the day-to-day operations, while Tyler manages Westmoreland Funeral Home during the week and Austin works for Ben Patton Land Surveying. Both pitch in on the weekends to keep things running smoothly and making sure it’s clean and disinfected for guests.
Jim’s sister- and brother-in-law, Sheila and Mike Kilpatrick work at the campground as well. Sheila’s smiling face greets campers at check-in and mans the onsite camp store filled with everything you forgot you needed! Mike is an incredibly talented furniture maker and handyman and brings his skill set to keep things in good repair.
“One thing I’ve learned,” said Jim. “You’ve got to have a good ice cream selection, that’s important.” Making sure campers have what they need and want is important, he adds. “It’s all about the experience. Camping has always been a part of family life,” he said. “I have the best memories of camping out in Tennessee and other places and the memories and bonding you create are what’s valuable.”
The whole crew take great pride in providing people of all ages the opportunity to step out of their daily routine, experience the sounds of the stream, the smell of the trees, and create relational moments that have lasting impact.
The camp itself sits on 9 acres of flat land surrounded by forest and vibrant Buck’s Creek. Shaped in a U formation, nearly every campsite has creek-side frontage. A large covered gathering pavilion with big-screen TVs, a cozy fireplace, and picnic tables allow for community cookouts on special occasions or just for meeting new friends and sharing stories. There is a full bathhouse that is meticulously clean and stocked, and each campsite offers full hook-ups, a firepit, and a picnic table.
The Yurts are perfect for couples wanting a romantic getaway in the mountains—Think upscale tent camping or glamping! Each one has custom cut live edge wood counters in the baths and kitchens, a queen-size bed, a seating area, and a full bath. The camp store also has brochures of area attractions, restaurants, and more. Sheila is happy to help guests plan an outing for the day and share all the wonderful amenities within a few miles.
Mountain Stream RV Park is known for its cleanliness, welcoming atmosphere, and pristine setting. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a short drive up U.S. Hwy. 80, Linville Caverns, and the Orchard at Altapass are just a few of the treasures of our county close by.
With the purchase of the campground, Jim and his family are able to continue his ancestral legacy of entrepreneurship and community service.
If you have family coming or want to get away yourself, give Sheila a call at 828.724.9013 or visit their website at mountainstreamrvpark.com.