Morris, the Tryon horse

The 19th-century surveyors who laid out Tryon stuck a compass in the map and drew the town boundaries as a circle a mile and a half in diameter. At the center of that circle stands the Tryon Horse. Today’s landmark is the fifth-generation Tryon Horse. A jumbo version of one of the most popular toys, it was originally created for the Tryon Horse Show.

In season the Tryon Horse serves as a downtown billboard for the club, with dates for the Tryon Horse Show or the Block House Steeplechase displayed on his saddle pad. In earlier days when school let out and the stores closed for the horse show, the Horse was rolled down the road for signpost duty, giving visitors directions.

The original Tryon Horse was destroyed in the 30s when the building in which he was stored burned. The next Tryon Horse was ravaged in 1946 during a wild getaway ride when he was kidnapped – not for ransom, just for the devilment – by a few fellows who were enjoying a jar or two of white lightening. The third succumbed to age and weather in the 60s; and the fourth Horse was totally restored in 1983, when he acquired a fiberglass body made by a boat builder. He stands twenty-two hands high.

Occasionally the Tryon Daily Bulletin prints a letter from a reader who has had a conversation with the Tryon Horse. In those letters, the Horse is always referred to as ‘Morris,’ the name given him by a group of friends, the ‘Wilderness Road Gang,’ who put holiday garlands and a rakish top hat on the Horse every Christmas.