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Showing posts from 2010

Artifacts on the Haw River between Swepsonville and Saxapahaw

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Paddle Tour on the Haw River: Swepsonville to Saxapahaw, the middle fords November 27, 2010 Touring rivers is new to the Trading Path Association.  We've walked plenty of river banks, before, looking for remnants of riparian commerce and looking for stream crossings, but the idea of searching a river from the water just hadn't caught on with us, perhaps, because so few Piedmont streams will float a vessel.  We knew, though, a number of stream crossings on the Haw any one of which could be visited in a single afternoon, but to see more than just the one would take far too much time, hence the paddle tour.   In the course of the tour we saw five fords, at least a half dozen dam sites, a couple of power houses that once housed turbines, some sort of occupancy site that may have been a mill prior to government records in the area, and a canal and lock in good enough shape to know what it was even though we couldn't figure out how it work. In other words, paddling proved

The Great Central Coast Road in Orange County NC

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Travelers from ancient times to the present used Occaneechi Gap when traveling from the Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.  The course they took came to be called the Great Central Coast Path/Trail/Road.  The gap allowed travelers to avoid a one hundred and fifty foot climb and, more importantly, provided a reasonably easy way to bypass the Eno River if one were going down to the ocean and the river was high.  Or if, like John Lawson, you just didn't want to cross any more rivers. Upper Neuse-Cape Fear watershed  One can, without great difficulty, walk all the way from Seven Mile Ck, just west of Moorefields to New Bern without getting your feet wet because just southeast of Moorefields, near the intersection of NC 10 and New Hope Church Rd, the trail intersects the watershed between the Cape Fear and the Neuse River basins.   To the right is a map showing the upper portion of that watershed.  In the upper left the Great Bend of the Eno west of Hillsborough shows di

Earmarks of Settlement

In Anglo-American history, "settlement" is the last stage in conquest, it is when invaders become controlling occupiers rather than: visitors, transients, curiosities, opportunities or necessary evils.  Settlement marks a change in regime, in culture, economy, and society.  On England's first frontier, in the southeast of North America, settlement marked an end to pre-market, subsistence economies, supplanting them with law, centralized order, and markets.  Settlement replaces a life-style rooted in personal freedom with a life-style rooted in personal obligations and liabilities. Participants in subsistence economies live for today and depend on wit, will, and good fortune to survive tomorrow.  Participants in market economies are expected to defer today's joy in the interest of a less frightening tomorrow.  For example, 'starving time,' that time between the consumption of last years's produce and the arrival of this year's harvest was a common

A cemetery myth

What We Can Tell From Unmarked Gravestones Recently a neighbor described a "slave cemetery" she'd found. When asked how she had identified it as a slave cemetery, she said the stones were (all but one or two) unmarked. This belief is totally anachronistic. Blank stones, head and foot stones with no inscriptions are not the earmarks solely of slave graves in the South. First, illiteracy was the norm for all three prevalent races in the antebellum South, enslaved and free and, second, some religions disapproved of the use of grave marking. Even amongst sects that took pride in their literacy, inscribed stones could be controversial. Varieties of Quakers and Baptists, alike, have gone through moments of discomfort with grave markings. Many genealogy sites on the internet carry a warning or observation along these lines: "There was a period when Quakers were discouraged from marking their graves. An old Quaker Burying Ground may look as if it is only partially

Two Days Well Spent on the Eno River

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Some Notes Taken After Canoeing on the Eno River As rivers go, the Eno isn't much. It is not long and, except in spate, it is not deep, it is not rapid, nor broad. It is a rather typical stream of the southeastern piedmont of North America; high banked under steep but low valley walls, too shallow for commercial navigation but with sufficient basin capture to produce prodigious spates after a summer downpour . Until the advent of modern bridge materials (steel and then concrete) that could lift a bridge above these floods, the river alternated between being merely a dangerous impediment to travel to being an absolute barrier to movement. Yet, like most streams in the Piedmont of the Appalachians, the Eno powered numerous pre-modern industries, and its fords channeled movement for thousands of years. Having located a light watercraft, I determined to see what vest iges could be seen of transportation and industrial impacts on the Eno above, near and below Hillsborough, NC.