[In causa mortis it seems appropriate to assemble a list of the Trading Path Association's accomplishments over the past twenty years. Most of those accomplishments are indirect as planned. Starting in 2000 we raised money solely to pay for transportation costs and we set off on a campaign to goad others to do the smart thing and preserve historical artifacts.]
What We Did
We operated at the county level in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Time and resource availability eventually limited our operation to North Carolina. Our method was to contact and meet with county and city managers to pitch them on heritage tourism as a low cost and high return economic development. Tourists come, spend and leave so there is no requirement for infrastructure and payroll increases; roads, police, and more firemen needed, just signage.
Our successes from north to south include:
Petersburg, VA: Long term plan to locate and excavate Abraham Wood's fort site which by vectoring old roads we believe is located under a dirt floored warehouse on the banks of the Appomattox River.
Lawrenceville, VA: By vectoring old roads we successfully located the likely site of Fort Christiania, a concentration camp for vestigial tribes after Bacon's Rebellion (1676). The Native Americans there threw pots commercially. It was decided that revealing the village site would lead to depredation by looters and therefore we moved on.
We mapped pack horse trails rising up the south bank of Lake Gaston out of Moniseep Ford at the confluence of HawTree Creek and the Roanoke River. We traversed the face of the slope leading down to Lake Gaston, downstream from HawTree Creek, and we stepped into a pack horse trail climbing out of the lake. Using "structure maps" of the lake bottom we were able to see the actual original ford point; Haw Tree was the ramp used to get into the River. Climbing the hill along the packhorse trail we found and mapped a rather unique structure that appeared to be a trough allowing packhorses to grab a drink about halfway up from the river on a long and steep climb. It was roughly twelve feet long and two feet wide (ID) built of stone.
We invested considerable time trying to convince county and state officials in two states to agree to create an interstate park to protect the artifacts we had found, but failed. Before we could get sign-offs from all parties, both the brothers who owned the property died and their heirs asked us not to trespass further.
Patrick County, Va: Notified of the existence of a ford over Mayo River on a Hariston plantation, a Hariston descendent guided us through the plantation (the house and several outbuildings still exist including a large corncrib which served as a jail for British POWs). The road cut going north toward the river was remarkable for its depth and for the soil embedding it. The soil was a very fine loam with not a rock to be found, and it seems road repair consisted of dragging a log down the hill to push the loam into erosion crevasse. The roadbed was incised at least twenty feet. Going south from the ford the roadbed was easy to follow down to Crooked Creek and then up to a merger where it was overlain by Sandy Ridge Road in Stokes County, NC
Warren County, NC: In conjunction with the Moniseep Ford project we held several public meetings and outdoor events in Warren County with the net effect of stimulating interest in preserving remnants of the old Trading Path/Thigpen's Trace and also the Dan-Roanoke watershed trail that crosses the county. Along this route it is possible to walk all the way from Little Washington on the Roanoke to Eden, NC on the Dan without crossing any water.
Franklin County, NC: After leading a hike to a mill seat on Lynch Creek enthusiasts created the Ben Franklin Society (BFS) with the stated purpose of finding and protecting all the mill sites on Lynches Creek. In the process, working with the NC State Archaeologist's office the BFS developed a specialized site reporting form for mill sites that is now in use throughout the state.
Louisburg, Franklin County, NC: Working with the Town Manager, C.L. Gobble, we interpreted a dugout canoe salvaged from mud at the head of muscle-powered navigation on the Tar River. After staff from the NC Archaeologist's office stabilized the canoe it was put on display at Louisburg College. We also funded and assisted with a private archaeologist in examining the large spring around which Louisburg grew uncovering paths leading to the spring and structures adjacent to it. We lobbied for but failed to raise the funds to create a reproduction of the spring house that once sheltered the spring.
Person County, NC: We successfully convinced county officials and local history folks to preserve vestiges of the tobacco farming culture, specifically we urged for the preservation of tobacco curing sheds of various types. Additionally, we convinced the owners of "Mount Tirzah," the home of Stephen Moore, a Revolutionary War figure, to grant an easement in perpetuity to the Boy Scouts of America for the upkeep of the associated cemetery where Moore was buried.
Atop Red Mountain we mapped a rhyolite quarry with acres of debitage left from thousands of years of tool making. We also located pack-horse trails from the 17th century on the sides of Red Mountain, on the south flank of Mount Tirzah and 18th century wagon roads both of which forded the two forks of the Flat River and eventually became NC Highway 57, headed for the Eno River crossing at Faucette Mill northwest of Hillsborough. There was a very well preserved section of the wagon road on a parcel where a school was to be built and we failed to get school officials to incorporate it in their landscape plan but for consolation they named the school "Pathways."
Durham and Durham County, NC: We worked with the Open Space Manager's Office to identify fords on the Little River and found a great many artifacts, including unrecorded graves, horse trails and wagon roads. We mapped artifacts on the Horton Grove plantation. As part of that project we acquired and read a perpetual preservation agreement by which the owner received a large tax break and in it we found some major defects. A land trust stepped in and bought the land outright and has it protected. Of course we mapped the roads and stream crossings in the vicinity of Stagville Plantation Historic Site on both the Flat and Little River. While doing that we found a large section of a causeway crossing a black-water swamp east of the Bennihan house. It was made by laying logs crossways to the planned roadbed and then covering that structure with dirt. The overall height of the causeway was about ten to twelve feet. We also found a perfectly preserved fishdam in the Flat River and both horse ford and wagon ford and wagon bridge abutments associated with the trade route passing through Stagville.
We mapped remaining segments of the wagon road versions of three channels of the trading path to the Catawba. One parallels and lies under modern St Mary's Road, another went from Fish Dam on the Neuse to Cedar Cliffs on the Haw passing through Durham. It passed through Eno Will's villages near the Pickett and Irwin Road intersection. While a third, the Fish Dam Road, connected Fish Dam with the native village sites east of Hillsborough, in the oxbow of the Eno.
Working in Eno River State Park, in Durham County, we mapped several abandoned hamlets, numerous graves and vestiges of wagon roads bound for Virginia. Probably our most spectacular find in the park was the foundation and massive chimney piles that mark the site of James Few's Tavern and, nearby, a high status house midway between his mill and the inn.
Orange County, the home of the Trading Path Association, owing to fuel prices and accessibility, had a large share of attention from the TPA. The County has a trail master plan and our old road findings are an integral part of that plan. We mapped three channels of the Trading Path crossing Orange County, and we studied land ownership on several of the fords over the Eno River.
Actually, one of our first proof-of-concept opportunities arose in Orange County. After the Durham newspaper gave the TPA so good ink we received a call from a local man from outside of Hillsborough. He said his church elders could no longer remember where their first church and cemetery was and he asked if I could help find the site. We found the site in under two hours by just walking a major creek in the vicinity of the church until we saw a ford road climbing a hogback toward the ridge top. Atop the ridge we found the church.
And when I learned how the church site became unusable for lack of road maintenance it triggered another research project which has since taken on a life of its own. When the state took over road maintenance around 1921 local commissions defined which roads needed to be maintained, and the road to our church was removed from the maintenance list. In twenty years, as ruts grew deeper and cars grew lower to the ground, access became impossible. I found another four or five churches within five miles of Hillsborough which had suffered a similar fate. They were all Black parishes and I could find no examples of White parishes experiencing the same thing. I turned this research over to the Center for the Study of the American South at UNC-CH and they have a multi-year research and oral history project to determine the extent of this sort of Jim Crow abuse.
Of course, we mapped all the Eno River crossings we could find and in doing so found a neat trick for finding roads overlain by reservoirs; they leave a rectangular bay whereas naturally occurring channels are vee-shaped. We located a likely site for the first Court meeting in Orange County at which the county came into being. It was located in a key geopolitical spot, just above a major ford over an Eno tributary, Seven Mile Creek, and at the west entrance to Occaneechi Gap. We studied Occaneechi gap to typify piedmont gaps. The gap saved travelers 100 vertical feet of climbing and descent and allowed passage through what became Orange County without fording the Eno. For thousands of years a Native American commercial route, it became the "Great Central Coast Road '' when wagons arrived, and later it became NC Highway 10. Today, Interstates 85 and 40 merge and diverge in that gap.
We also mapped remnants of the Upper Trading Path all across the county. While doing this we came across the site of the Eno Quaker Meeting House, where Jimmy Carter's ancestors worshipped. We lobbied local Quaker Meetings about restoring the remarkable stone walled cemetery on the site, and there has been loose talk about creating a new Eno Meeting on the site. The meeting and cemetery were on the south side of the Trading Path/Thigpen's Trace. Local Quakers are still trying to find a way to revive that old Meeting.
Recently we have come to believe this Upper Trading Path was overlain by the wagon road shown on the Mosley Map of NC (1733). It was a military road pioneered by James Thigpen, a militia captain tasked with making a military road from the Chesapeake to the Gulf of Mexico during Queen Anne's War (1702-1713), and he did so between 1702 and 1704. This road may be the most important road in NC history. We are trying to assemble a paper on the subject.
As an aside: Rebecca Dobbs, in her UNC-CH Geography Doctoral Dissertation located the earliest land grants in Orange County. They were almost all along Thigpen’s Trace, the old Trading Path.
We mapped another channel of the Trading Path across both Durham and Orange County. It crossed New Hope Creek at "Eno Wills" villages just downstream from Erwin Road. They were described by William Byrd in 1726 as two villages "on either side of a pretty little rivulet." TPA prepared a report for a developer who was planning a subdivision on the land in question. With the developer's permission we shared our study report with Durham's Open Space manager and it was she who organized a coalition of Durham City, Durham County, and Orange County which pooled resources and grants and bought the land from the developer and put it all in a land trust. and they hired archaeologists who found a village site on the west side of the stream but the sister village on the east bank was destroyed by Trinity School in spite of our best efforts to get them to study before building.
In fact, TPA has studied a half dozen projects for developers prior to development to help them avoid interference during development. All of these relationships have resulted in the protection of artifacts by either turning them into tourist attractions or by sheltering them. For example, for a development in Hillsborough we examined a few hundred acres and found four Civil War rifle-pits. The developer agreed not to draw attention to them and incorporate them and the hilltop they surrounded in his landscape and trail plan.
For the Eno River Association (ERA) we surveyed land at the Forks of the Eno. This was historically important land, and we located the footings for a bridge shown on the 1771 Collet Map. In the same area we mapped a long and wide head-race and its mill seat plus a second mill seat with races a few hundred yards downstream. The ERA and private land owners who owned remnants of the mills agreed to preserve them.
The Town of Hillsborough engaged TPA in a project to assess the archaeological value of twenty-six parcels owned by the town but undeveloped. Our work product for this project was a Geographic Information System (GIS) Database which informed a map which overlays existing town GIS . It shows by color coding various degrees of archaeological value so planners and staff could see which sites should be studied before development and which were free for development.
Speaking of GIS, the TPA was a very early adopter of the use of Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) for locating archaeological sites, fords and roadbeds. This technology shows a two foot deep defilade in Earth’s surface under eighty percent leaf cover. After investing a couple of decades learning how to find fords using topographic maps and ground-truthing, LIDaR allowed just sitting at one's desk to view old roadbeds and fords.
We mapped the middle route of the Trading Path across Durham and Orange Counties. It crossed the Eno at the end of Hillsborough's King Street west of that town. And we protected remnants of the wagon road and also the only known remnants of the North Carolina Railroad’s original, “at grade” roadbed by creating a park at a cost to the town of six hundred dollars. East of Hillsborough William Few (of Regulator Fame) had a small farm near this road and in 1815 a merchant, William Kirkland, built his brick mansion, "Ayr Mount," along the old road, and it is now a private historic site. We worked with the manager of Ayr Mount to ensure the deeply incised old roadbed that borders the land was properly signed and recognized.
Similarly, TPA worked with the manager of "Moorefields" historic site to map that site's artifacts. Those include a large segment of the Great Central Coast Road lined with milky quartz to keep the wagons 'between-the-lines' on moonlit nights. Until last year, TPA held two tours every year at Moorefields for about five or six years. We led a spring tour in which we looked for unnatural plants to identify cabin sites and, in the fall, we held a hike to look at other unnatural features uncovered by the leaf-fall.
Another area of intense work in both Durham and Orange County is Duke Forest. We have mapped artifacts: roads, mill seats, cabin sites, and graves in five Duke Forest Divisions. Duke has generously given TPA open access to their Forest for research purposes. Though Duke Forest's foresters have no regard for the artifacts on their land and regularly plow them under while piling up 'slash,' it will take them many years to destroy it all. In the Hillsborough Division we found what we believe to be the childhood homesite of Thomas Hart Benton, the politician, sitting in close proximity to Thigpen's Trace/the Trading Path to the Catawba.
Alamance County, NC: Owing to its proximity to our office and the fact that it is rich with military, social, and religious history the TPA has done a good deal of work there.
One year the Hawfields Presbyterian Church asked the TPA to join them in "peregrinating the glebe," which is to say walk the boundaries of the original church lot which was a mile or so from the current church. We were able to discern two roadbeds which had bordered the north and west side of the church's original cemetery. The cemetery site had been lost when a local farmer pulled up and stored all the stones so he could crop the land. The church has since protected the burial place of their founders.
Further west, along the Haw River and on Great Alamance Creek, we found the fords used by William Tryon (Governor, 1762-1771) in his 1771 campaign against the Regulators. We also found the camp where his army spent the nights before and after the Battle of Alamance. Using metal detectors, we identified the tent lines where his men camped and poured lead shot the night before the battle, and his artillery park under which he buried the victims of his drumhead court martial. In doing this we also affirmed the accuracy of the maps drawn by his aide Jean Sauthier.
We also mapped all the known fords over the Haw River and its major tributaries, located a campsite used by the British in the Revolutionary War. We found the intersection where Harry Lee's forces intercepted Dr. Pyle's loyalist force and pretty well defined Pyle's Defeat. With Carol Troxler's guidance we mapped the likely sites of mass burials of Pyle's massacred force.
In mapping the fords of the Haw we discovered three channels of the Trading Path, a high, middle, and lower route; alternatives used under various weather and water conditions. We once surmised all of John Lawson’s daily camps north of South Carolina and this surmise had him crossing the south end of Bass Mountain and crossing the Haw at a ford at Cedar Cliffs upstream from Saxapaha.
We spent considerable time speaking with Alamance County Commission members and staff, touting the Haw River as an unused social and economic asset. With Dr. Mike Holland we organized a canoe flotilla intended to get the commissioners familiar with their river. The upshot was the Commissioners became strong advocates of the river. Impressed with the trash hung up in trees 15 feet above the river they immediately implemented a policy to minimize trash reaching the river through storm water drains. Eventually, they created a Haw River canoe trail as a county park which has since, in part, been incorporated in the Mountain to the Sea Trail.
We led many events and tours in Alamance County and we introduced hundreds of people to the battlefield at Lindley's Mill, the site of the largest militia-on-militia engagement in the Revolutionary War (1781). In the process of studying the War of the Regulation and Revolutionary War we were drawn to the Quaker meetings in Southern Alamance County which served as hospitals in all of the military affairs in the region, mainly Cane Creek Meeting ("The Mother of Meetings") and Spring Meeting near the Lindley Mill battlefield. Cane Creek authorized the Eno Meeting in Orange County and, as mentioned earlier, we mapped the site thoroughly. Though the structure was gone the corner stone piles remained so we were able to map its footprint. We also mapped in detail the large, stone walled cemetery next to the Meeting site. The Meeting and cemetery sat alongside the Upper Trading Path/Thigpen's Trace. [see Rivers Mapped below].
Guilford County The TPA attended GPS training at the Guilford Courthouse Battlefield, and then, using National Park Service GPS equipment we mapped some of the Race to the Dan sites on the Yadkin River and on the Dan River.
In the southern part of the county we executed a contract for a developer and identified house sites, cabin sites, a dairy milking parlor. While mapping Revolutionary War routes, North of Gibsonville, on Highway 61 we found and mapped a very important Revolutionary War site. Using Elon College students and borrowed metal detectors we surmised the location of an old roadbed and the students transected that line putting flags in the ground whenever metal was detected. By the end of the day a dense collection of orange flags perfectly defined the old road bed and pointed straight at the battle site.
Intent on destroying Greene's army camped north of Reedy Fork, Cornwallis raced Lee's light infantry up to Reedy Fork. Lee sacrificed his South Carolina cavalry to slow down Cornwallis while he set up defensive positions on the north bank of Reedy Fork. We located all the roads and fords associated with this battle as well as the location of buildings important to the defense. Eventually, Cornwallis forced a crossing but in doing so he expended so much ammunition and so many troops he could not continue pursuit to Greene's force, this was a prelude to the outcome some days later at Guilford Courthouse.
Stokes County, NC: As noted above, while working on a ford on Mayo River in Patrick County, VA we mapped a segment of "the Carolina Road" up to the point where it was overlain by Sandy Ridge Road.
Forsyth County, NC, mapped segments of the wagon road from PA, mapped road remnants in Bethabara and Bethania, mapped segments of the GWR between Lewisville and Shallow Ford, and spent time identifying and mapping old wagon roads in Bethania and Bethabara.
Yadkin County We mapped a very deeply incised roadbed climbing south out of Shallow Ford and we mapped the battle zone at Battle of Shallowford.
Randolph County We mapped the Trading Path/Thigpen's Trace all the way across Randolph County. First, near the Guilford County Line, southwest of Liberty we found a ford site over Sandy Creek below Herman Husband's mill dam. Then east of Randleman we mapped the wagon ford over Polecat Creek used by Governor Tryon's forces in the aftermath of the Battle of Alamance. At Randleman we found the original ford site over Deep River and the road that passed Randolph County's original courthouse, just on the east edge of the Uwharrie Mountains. These mountains presented a nearly impassable barrier to wagon traffic. Wagons and probably Thigpen's Trace diverted to pass along the southern foot of the mountains most of the time parallel and north of the line of Highway 64.
We attempted, with limited success, to identify the pre-wagon route through the mountains. At the west end of the most likely route was Huber's Mill, the seat of which sits in the forks of the Uwharrie and Little Uwharrie River on a direct line of the route to Boone's Ford. Nearby, within a half mile of the mill seat we located the likely site of "Totero," a town visited by John Lawson. East of the Uwharrie River, we mapped a Native American footpath overlain by modern Earnhardt Road. It was a ridge trail on the northern military crest of a ridge complex north of Carroway Mountain. Proceeding east from Huber's mill seat in the forks of the Uwharrie and Little Uwharrie River we noted the new road did something old roads never did, it made a ninety degree turn to get down off of its ridge. When we examined the terrain east of the turn we found a pack horse trail that had created a badly eroded horse path on the south side of the hogback leading to the foot of the mountain. Examining the hogback we found a footpath that climbed from the bottom to the top of the ridge with a number of switchbacks allowing a porter to ascend and descend what would otherwise have been a difficult climb.
Continuing our tracing of the route of the Trading Path west from Huber's Mill we found that the best line was along Jerusalem Road which at one time merged with Highway 47 and as it approached Abbotts Creek it veered off to the left to use a ford at Miller's Mill. In low water we were able to see mill seat remnants and gather some GPS points. The ford road west of the mill passed through a mill related hamlet with a tavern site (defined by footprint) a large public well and a large vinca covered cemetery. There were a half dozen house sites in the vicinity of the tavern at the head of the ford approach slope.
Climbing out of Abbotts Creek to the west we found an old road on a line to merge with Jersey Church Road, and the road led us down to an old road cut on the west side of Highway 8 which led to a ford over Potts Creek and into the NC Railroad switchyard. Originally the road continued across the bottom land to climb out on to a road paralleling the Yadkin River which eventually led to Boone's Ford. In the vicinity of the switchyard we mapped a mill site near the confluence of Potts Creek and the Yadkin River that was paved with brick, probably a ford entrance for the "Trading Ford" wagon crossing.
Upstream from I-85 we found well preserved remnants of Fort York, a Civil War Confederate artillery position intended to block crossing the Yadkin and to protect the railroad bridge over that river. Remarkably, the site was preserved pretty much entirely as the owner used the artillery pads as mobile home sites and never touched the trenches connecting the artillery pads with the still discernible ammunition bunker in the center of the fort. Fort York successfully turned back a Union cavalry raid in 1865. About a third of its original perimeter was lost to construction of I-85.
Davidson County engaged the TPA to map all of its Yadkin River crossings and this was one of the most informative studies we made. We found that there were four or five fords across the Yadkin in Davidson County (one was so disturbed by railroad construction it was impossible to confirm its location west of Denton). We found that with the arrival of wagons in the area ferries replaced fords as all weather crossings safer than fording. By the early years of the nineteenth century there were twenty-four ferry sites along the Yadkin in the county. Davidson County published the executive summary of our report as a booklet that went through a half dozen printings.
We also mapped a number of mill sites and cabin sites in northern Davidson County and mapped a number of fords over Abbotts Creek. Perhaps the most interesting of these sites was upstream from where Highway 64 crosses the Yadkin. This, in time, we came to believe was where Thigpen's Trace crossed the Yadkin. There was a foot ford there and then a wagon ford. Ambitious folk located Yadkin College next to the roadbed betting that the railroad would use that crossing, and they lost their bet. We mapped the remaining buildings of the college and the roads associated with the ford.
We spent a good deal of time working on a place called Hickory Lick Ford in the upper reach of the Yadkin in Davidson County as we thought it might have been an important ford for the Great Wagon Road. We located the ford approach road in Davidson County and mapped it. On the other side of the river the road was more difficult to discern though it was overlaid with modern drives. But it clearly was important at one time. Attempting to trace this road northward to a crossing over Muddy Creek proved frustrating so it's location in Forsyth County remains undetermined, it was, though, vectoring toward Bethania.
The largest effect of our work in Davidson County is a multi-county park on the banks of the Yadkin River from the Buck Steam Plant at Trading Ford upstream to Boone's cave, almost eight miles of river front on both sides of the river that is now parkland purchased from ALCOA. In time the Heights of Gowry, from which the British watched their troops frustrated at crossing the Yadkin fired cannon at the amused Americans on the north bank during the Race to the Dan will be protected, or so said the Department of Transportation ten or so years ago. Fort York has already been purchased as parkland, and the old Highway 58 bridge now belongs to Davidson County and will be incorporated into the park plan. Who could ask for a better outcome?
We had no contracts in Rowan or Davie Counties, and none in Cabarrus County or Lincoln County but we did some mapping gratis. We looked for Boone cabin sites in Davie County, and we mapped fords over the Catawba River in Cabarrus and Lincoln County. In Lincoln County we were privileged to get aboard the Duke Power plant at a dam that sits above the site where the British Army forced a crossing during which General Davidson earned a lifted hoof for his equestrian statue. We have since lobbied unsuccessfully for a memorial to the lame school teacher who went with one of his students to the battle, instructed the younger man on how to survive and was killed when the battle was joined. He deserves an honor and we failed to get it for him.
Mecklenburg County - Though we met with county commissioners and the County Manager and the Mayor's staff in Charlotte, we were unable to generate much interest in heritage tourism. We poked around a bit, mapped Nation's Ford over the Catawba and found some kindred spirits. Therefore we created "The Historic Mapping Congress" an association of GPS and battlefield enthusiasts. Our original plan was to develop a GIS map into which anybody could upload their GPS point for whatever site they'd mapped. After getting the organization going I found that driving to Charlotte for monthly meetings was outside my budget so I bowed out. They have a very attractive website and an enthusiastic membership.
Union County - We contracted with a developer, a Boy Scout leader who had some knowledge of John Lawson, who wanted us to examine eight hundred acres of raw land where he planned to build two thousand houses. His belief was that Lawson crossed his land and he intended to name his development "Lawson." After several months of field work, having located two hamlets on the land and done research on residents, and having found a wonderful ford at a mill seat on Twelve Mile Creek, I came to believe the Scout Master’s surmise was correct. When Lawson passed through this country the streams were in full flood and there was no way to cross the Catawba except by hazarding a canoe ferry in a flood stage river. The first place to cross Twelve Mile Creek, feeding the Catawba from the east side was in "Lawson" along an old, abandoned road coming from Andrew Jackson's birthplace through Waxhaw. After careful study it became clear that the ford at "Lawson" was likely to have been John Lawson's crossing before he reached the Catawba tribe located on Sugar Creek in southeast Charlotte. As with Davidson County, the developer turned our report's executive summary into a book and anybody who bought a lot in the development received a copy.
A couple of years after we turned in our report the developer called and asked for a favor. He was late in delivering the promised swimming pool and some other amenities and his buyers were gathering pitchforks and torches, so he asked me to come down and lead a history hike. I agreed without giving it adequate thought. Promised hot dogs and soft drinks, over two hundred residents showed up for a history hike. Needless to say, it was a bit chaotic but we did show them the ford and the mill seat and a few other things the developer preserved with a nature trail. When we finished the hike at about five in the afternoon there was only one hiker missing; a seventy-five year old local who lived near but not in the development. Panic stricken we organized a search party and were detailing groups to take different routes when the old guy came out of the woods and asked what the fuss was about. I told him and he said, "Son, I've been hunting this land since I was a lad. I can't get lost."
York County, South Carolina, Andrew Jackson State Park - We were asked to speak at Andrew Jackson State Park one winter and we accommodated the request. It snowed the night before the talk and when I looked outside the park headquarters I could see an old road invisible under normal conditions. I took a park ranger and we followed the old road to an intersection where corner piles and a chimney fall indicated a cabin site. I suggested that park personnel investigate deeds and ascertain if this was, indeed, Andrews Jackson's birthplace. I have no idea what resulted.
That, with a few omissions owing to advance age is what we've done for the last twenty years.
One or more of our Board of Directors, early in the project, suggested that I should apply for a position in the North Carolina Humanity Council's Speakers Bureau, The Road Scholars. They accepted me and that became our main publishing outlet. I was allowed ten talks per year for about ten years and I spoke to groups ranging from ten to seventy-five people and on a couple of exhilarating events over a hundred attended. I haven't audited my records but I expect I spoke about fords and roads and their effects on our population distributions in over fifty counties. On two occasions I spoke to National Genealogical Society meetings and reached hundreds each time. One year I read a paper on fords and the use of LIDaR to the Association of American Geographers, and it was well received.
So, in sum, we can say the TPA has had an impact on how people look at contact era history in Carolina and the greater southeast. I could never have happened but for the support of Board Members, volunteers, and donors.
Thank you all.