Denver, formerly known as “Dry Pond,” is a census-designated place and unincorporated community located in Lincoln County, North Carolina, United States. It is situated on North Carolina State Highway 16 on the west shore of Lake Norman on the Catawba River. It is about 25 miles north of downtown Charlotte and just south of the Catawba County boundary.
Throughout the 20th century, Denver remained largely a farming community with cotton as the primary cash crop supplemented by “truck farming” vegetables to area towns (with tomatoes and strawberries being among the most often marketed vegetable crops). Members of local families began commuting to work in surrounding textile mills of Mooresville, Lincolnton, Cornelius, Maiden, and Mount Holly just before World War II and continued up until the early 1970s. Having failed to elect a local government for many years, Denver lost its official incorporated status in 1971 by vote of the state legislature.
It was the filling of a much larger pond, Lake Norman, that led Denver to grow in ways that its early boosters probably could have never fathomed. In 1962, Duke Power built the Cowans Ford Dam, flooding the fertile farmland along the Catawba River “bottoms,” the land which had attracted the area’s first settlers. Soon, weekend and summer “getaway” homes began to appear lakeside, and after a few years, these were replaced by more luxurious lake homes, as individuals began to move to the area to live near the water. Denver is now largely a bedroom community for Charlotte, NC.
One of Denver’s major features is its “main street,” which is now known as “Old Highway 16.” This road, once state highway 16, was one of North Carolina’s first state highways, receiving that designation in 1928. Present-day highway 16 is a four-lane road running through the edge of the community
During the 1970s, the town hosted one of the largest cross-country motorcycle races in the nation, “The Denver 100,” which was a successful fundraiser for the local volunteer fire department. Participants rode through the center of barns, along creek banks, and through pastures—most of which have now disappeared under various housing developments.
Denver is home to the Rock Springs Campground that has been the site of revivals and camp meetings since 1794. One of the few continuous camp meeting still occurring is that of the Rock Spring Camp Meeting in east Lincoln County, North Carolina.The William A. Graham Jr. Farm, Munday House, and Rock Springs Camp Meeting Ground are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.