Continuing our NC Piedmont travel description series, here is the relevant portion of the Proceedings of the Good Roads Institute 1911, by Joseph Hyde Pratt and Hattie M. Berry:
From Durham to Graham, Alamance County, two routes are available —one, via Hillsboro (see Fig. 2), the county seat of Orange County, and the other, via Chapel Hill (see Fig. 3), Orange County.
[Fig.2 is essentially Old NC 10/US 70; Fig. 3 is Old Chapel Hill-Durham Road, just south of US 15-501]
At the present time the best route is via Chapel Hill. From Durham to the Orange County line the road is macadam and from the line to Chapel Hill it is sand-clay. There are a great many beautiful vistas along this road, and, when within one mile of Chapel Hill and immediately after crossing an iron bridge [Bolin Creek], the road begins to climb a long hill [Strowd Hill on Franklin Street in CH] (on an easy grade, however), which is the first hill climbing of any extent that the traveler has encountered since leaving Morehead City. When the top of the hill is reached a splendid view greets the traveler, and he can see across the broad valley nearly as far as Raleigh.
Chapel Hill, the seat of the State University, is located on the summit of a long, high hill, and the highway passes through the main street of the town. Entering from the east, the broad street, with its beautiful homes and well-kept yards on each side, gives some idea of the beauty and dignity of this delightful old town. Sufficient time should be taken to ride through the campus of the oldest State University in the country. Just before reaching the center of the town, the Episcopal Church will be passed. This beautiful, ivy-covered building [Chapel of the Cross] attracts the attention of all who pass and reminds one of old English churches. It was designed by Upjohn, the architect who designed Old Trinity Church of New York.
As one leaves Chapel Hill and rides toward Saxapahaw, Alamance County, he realizes that he has entered the rolling and hilly country of the Piedmont Plateau region. [No mention of Carrboro!]The highway, however, will take the hills by easy grades and the scenery claims the attention of the traveler for the whole distance. [Just as true 98 years later!] At Saxapahaw the road twines down to Haw River, which is crossed on an iron bridge. This little mill town, situated about 9 miles from a railroad, is a city unto itself.
The road from Saxapahaw to Graham has just been completed and is partly sand-clay and partly macadam.
The other route from Durham to Graham, via Hillsboro, passes through West Durham, where the large Methodist College (Trinity) [Duke University, obviously] is located. The road to the Durham line will be macadam and across Orange County it will be gravel or sand-clay. [This is Old NC 10/US 70.] Within a few miles of Hillsboro the road passes through two of the noted farms of the State, the Duke farm and the Occoneechee farm. Hillsboro was formerly the capital of the State, and contains many very attractive old homes.
Cornwallis began the construction of paved roads at Hillsboro during the year 1780 of the Revolutionary War, when he had his army quartered for the winter at that place. At the time the roads were practically impassable and he had his soldiers fill the mudholes with rocks. While it did not make a smooth or good road, it did make them passable, so that he was able to haul his cannon and wagons. Some of Cornwallis's road improvement is still to be seen. Most of it, however, has been replaced recently by a good macadam. This old historic town is well worth a visit by the tourist, and most delightful accommodations can be had at the Corbinton Inn.
On leaving Hillsboro the road to Mebane is very hilly and rough, but a new location has been made and the new road should be finished within the next year.
At nearly every town that the highway passes through since leaving Raleigh are one or more cotton mills, and these mills continue to be conspicuous landmarks until the highway passes Mooresville and Statesville. At West Durham the Erwin Cotlon Mills represent the largest in the South and one of them covers a greater area than any other cotton mill in the country.
At Mebane is the plant of the White Furniture Company. This is the beginning of a series of furniture factories that will be observed in many of the towns from this point westward. From Mebane the highway passes through Haw River to Graham, where it intersects with the Chapel Hill road. On leaving Graham the traveler will find a splendid macadam road for a distance of 50 miles, passing through Burlington and Elon College, Alamance County, and Gibsonville, Greensboro, Jamestown, and High Point, Guilford County.
At Greensboro, the county seat of Guilford County, the Central Highway intersects the National Highway and the two highways coincide as far as Landis, Rowan County, 62 miles to the south. Good hotel accom- ' modations can be obtained in Greensboro, at the Guilford and McAdoo hotels. The State Normal College, the Greensboro Female College, and the A. and M. College for the colored race are located in this city. Guilford County received the $1,000 offered by the Atlanta Journal for the county south of Roanoke, Virginia, through which the National Highway passed that had the best roads. The county is keeping up its reputation and still has the best system of roads of any county in the State. The macadam road between Greensboro and High Point, 15 miles, has been treated with tarvia.
It was only a few years ago that High Point was a small village whose only distinction was the fact that it was the highest point on the Southern Railway between Danville and Charlotte. Now it is the second city in the country in the manufacture of furniture, the only city exceeding it being Grand Rapids, Michigan. Soon after leaving High Point the Highway enters Davidson County, and the roads during rainy weather have caused travelers a great many anxious moments. The route through this country has recently been resurveyed and the long hills have been eliminated. Revenue will also be available to convert the heavy clay road into a beautiful, smooth, sand-clay road.
People who have driven across Davidson County have not had an opportunity to appreciate the beauties of the county, as their thoughts have been too much centered on the road. Another six months will see the road in good condition, and then the traveler will realize that he is passing through a most delightful section of the State, where productive and prosperous farms are very numerous, and, with the beautiful views from the ridge and up the long rich valleys, will impress one that this county is one in which it would be good to live. Thomasville and the county seat, Lexington, are two rapidly growing towns of this section. Lexington Township has recently issued $100,000 in bonds for the construction of good roads.
Just before reaching the Yadkin River, which is the boundary line between Davidson and Rowan counties, the highway passes near the Daniel Boone Memorial Cabin, which marks the birthplace of that great American pioneer and noted character in American history. Yadkin River is crossed by a tollbridge, but plans are now under way to have a free bridge across this river. At the time of the Automobile Run from !N"ew York to Atlanta under the auspices of the New York Herald and the Atlanta Journal, this tollgate at the end of the bridge was the only tollgate that was raised without charging the tourists toll.
First-class sand-clay and macadam roads are again encountered as the highway reaches Rowan County. The steep hill immediately beyond the bridge will soon be a thing of the past. A new location has been surveyed for the highway, and the new road will be ready by spring. For the next 50 to 60 miles the highway is a joy to all who ride over it, smooth surface and easy grades. Spencer, where are located the large shops of the Southern Railway, is soon passed and Salisbury is in sight. This town, the county seat of Rowan County, is of historic interest in connection with scenes enacted during the Civil War. One of the Confederate prisons was located here. One of the Federal cemeteries is at Salisbury, and, during the past few years, several very handsome monuments have been erected by Northern States to the memory of their soldiers buried at this place.