Skip to main content

North Carolina Backroads Trip

Joe Babyak came up from Wilmington on Saturday, and we took a trip along some of the former US Highway alignments in the area.

For the entire flickr set (149 photos) go here.

We focused on old alignments of US 1 and US 421. US 1 from Apex to Sanford and US 421 from Sanford to Julian (between Liberty and Greensboro). We headed back along what some call the Old Football Road which is known as Greensboro/Chapel Hill Road.

With the Raleigh Beltline finally seeing an upgrade in signage, I got hold of two shots of soon to be replaced signs on Western Blvd.

Believe it or not. These signs are over top of even older overheads. (Be interesting to read those.)

Camera flash through the windshield makes this appear to be button copy. This is an older overhead than the signs in the first photo.



Our first stop was Apex. I spent a bit more time in Apex than this spring on the Bike 5 Trip to Wilmington. We walked around taking photos for a good 30-45 minutes. Apex has an intimate and very popular Main St./Downtown. On Saturday's at the former rail station, there is a farmer's market.




Just south of Apex is the crossroads of New Hill. At the main crossroads, there are three abandoned buildings. A service station, a former general store, and finally a service station with an old ice cream stand and also an old motor court.





Just south of New Hill in the small community of Bonsal. I took a detour - the main reason was to find an appropriate place to turn around and take a photo for the Carolina Crossroads project. However, sometimes a wrong turn can lead to a great discovery.

Just off of Old US 1 at the Wake/Chatham County line there is a rail crossing. Normally, I'd just turn around, but there was some activity going on. So, as a result, we decided to stop. The next thing a steam train whistle blows and appearing around the bend was a steam locomotive of the New Hope Valley Railway.

The New Hope Valley Railway is a six mile excursion train that runs on the first Sunday of every month. On this day, they were running a charter, but the good fortune allowed us to grab some great photos.



After taking a brief ride on what will be the US 421 bypass of Sanford, it was time to head into town along US 1 Business and spend some time walking around there.

Sanford has an amazing old Coca-Cola Building. The building was erected in 1908 and the current exterior design was done in the 1920s.

There is plenty of other great historical buildings within Sanford.




After Sanford, it was over NC 42 and NC 902 to Old US 421 and the small town of Goldston. This former gas station has now become a BBQ Joint known as Rufus' Restaurant.

I could be wrong, but I highly doubt you will be able to get a Coca-Cola here.

Next was the Camelback Bridge over the Deep River in Cumnock. Dave Filpus' recently went there, and his blog entry was part of the reason we made this trip. The bridge was built in 1910 and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1995. It is now part of a local park called "Deep River Park".





We followed old US 421 back again through Goldston and through Siler City, didn't have time to really stop there or Liberty either. In Julian, we picked up NC 62 until we reached Greensboro/Chapel Hill Road and followed that all the way to NC 54.

If there is a backroad you want to take, try this one. It's worth it. A first stop was the Kimesville Dam. The dam, which accompanied a former mill, was built in 1812. With recent rains, it made for a great waterfall.


At the country road's intersection with NC 49 is a former corner grocery. Complete with an old Orange Crush and Guilford Dairy Ice Cream Signs.




Here's what NC 49 looks like after a soft but drenching rain.

Finally, just west of Eli Whitney is the Spring Friends Meeting House. A church that dates to the 1700s.

I am on vacation all next week. So hopefully, like the fall of 2006, I'll take quite a few daytrips...most likely into Virginia.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Small Towns of Virginia Series - Charlotte Court House

This sleepy little rural town in Central Virginia can easily be overlooked.  Located miles from the Interstate or four lane US and Virginia Highways, Charlotte Court House in many ways is easily forgotten.  However, this tiny town of slightly over 400 residents holds a lot of Virginia and American History.

In 1799, Charlotte Court House saw the passing of the torch from an aging Patrick Henry and a young John Randolph.  The great debate over states' rights was the last for the fiery Henry and the first in public for Randolph.  Randolph would go on to serve in the US House of Representatives and U.S. Minister to Russia.  Henry, who was serving in the Virginia General Assembly representing Charlotte County at the time of the debate, died three months later.

Charlotte Court House is not the original name of the town.  Originally named The Magazine, then Daltonsburgh, followed by Marysville (which was the town's name at the time of the Henry-Randolph debate), Smithfield, and finally…

History of the Wawona Road (Yosemite National Park)

Recently I located a portion of the Old Wawona Road that was the original alignment used by wagons and early cars to get to Yosemite Valley from the south before the Wawona Tunnel was built.  Locating the Old Wawona Road was the primary driving force to head to a very dry Yosemite National Park this winter.






Generally I don't talk about the history of a route first, but in the case of the Wawona Road I thought it was particularly important to do so first.  The modern Wawona Road is approximately 28 miles in length from the north terminus of California State Route 41 at the boundary of Yosemite National Park to South Side Drive near Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite Valley.  A good chunk of people entering Yosemite Valley use the Wawona Road which generally is considered to be the easiest route...that certainly was not always the case.

The origins of the Wawona Road are tied to the Wawona Hotel.  The first structure in the Wawona Hotel complex dates back to 1876 which was built by the Wa…

Old California State Route 41 on Road 425B

While researching the history of the Lanes Bridge crossing of the San Joaquin River I noticed an oddity on the 1935 California Division of Highways map of Madera County.  Today California State Route 41 takes a crossing of the Fresno River west of the confluence with China Creek.  Back on the 1935 Map of Madera County the crossing is very clearly east of the confluence crossing on what are now Road 425B and Road 426 in Oakhurst.   CA 41 can be seen traversing southbound from Oakhurst on Road 425B towards Coarsegold on the 1935 Madera County Map.

1935 Madera County Highway Map

After viewing Road 425B on the Google Street Vehicle it was clear that the path downhill from the top of Deadwood Gulch was substantially more haggard than the modern alignment of CA 41.  I finally had occasion to visit Oakhurst today so I pulled off of modern CA 41 at Road 425B.   Immediately I was greeted by this warning sign.






Road 425B ahead was clearly a narrow road but barely wide enough for two vehicles.  T…