Triangular trails that lead to abandoned historic ruins :: WRAL.com
Many places in the Triangle region are known for their beautiful hiking trails, but did you know that there are several popular hiking sites that lead to the remains of abandoned structures, mills, and even cemeteries dating back to the 1700s?
If you’ve ever hiked the woods near Umstead Park, the Eno River, Falls Lake, or Jordan Lake, you’ve probably passed right past these crumbling old structures – maybe without even realizing it.
So here is a guide to beautiful summer hikes that will also lead to historical adventures. The places listed are on public spaces, but viewing from a distance is advisable – please do not touch or climb on these ancient remains.
1. Occoneechee racing circuit
Frozen in time in the woods along the Eno River, this is the last dirt racetrack of NASCAR’s first 1949 season.
Owned by the King of NASCAR himself – Bill France, Sr. of Daytona Beach – the overgrown mile-long track still contains rusty racing cars with seat cushions and ragged steering wheels.
Visitors can see the grandstands with faded paint and Pepsi logos, as well as overgrown stone seats.
The track operated for about 20 years in its prime, when legends like Fireball Roberts and Richard Petty roared around the track.
Before that, it served as a racetrack for the “sport of kings”: horse racing.
In the roughly 50 years since it closed, the Occoneechee Speedway has been added to the National Register of Historic Places and is preserved by the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust.
2. Abandoned and overgrown section of old Route 98 under Lake Falls
A ruined and overgrown stretch of old Highway 98 stretches through the woods near Falls Lake before disappearing below the water’s surface.
Hikers can walk for about a full 10 minutes on the old ghost road.
In fact, abandoned segments of old roads can be found all around Falls Lake. Before 1978, the lake did not exist. During its construction it engulfed several roads including Old Six Forks Road, Possum Track, Choplin, and Old Bayleaf, which also have portions underwater.
When Falls Lake was created, the surrounding rural community was hit hard. Some local family farms have been relocated, leaving behind their homes and old roads. Some people have said that ancient moonlit stills can still be found in the woods surrounding the lake – remnants of another era.
3. Old mills, chimneys and farms in Umstead Park
Hidden within miles of trails and wilderness of William B. Umstead State Park are the remains of farms, farms, mills, and even cemeteries of the families who made this land their home in the 1800s and 2000s. early 1900s.
An occasional stone fireplace hiding among the trees can reveal the location of an old farmhouse.
The community that lived there long before it became a state park was an autonomous and prosperous community that produced its own corn flour and dairy products. There was a school, a church, a small store, a cotton mill and a flour mill.
The farming community was destroyed when it was purchased in the 1930s.
Attentive hikers may notice small patches of tulips growing in special places around the woods. Anywhere you see tulips – or a really big, old oak tree – that’s where someone’s front yard was.
4. Old pumping station on the Eno river
Maps of the Eno River show several pockets of historical relics from the generations of people who lived on the banks.
Places like Cole Homesite, Dunnagan’s Grave, and Holden Mill Road Settlement are marked on hiking maps, showing where hikers can explore remains that have survived centuries ago.
The imposing stone walls of the pumping station overlook the bank; inside, the basement is like a labyrinth of stone walls and rusty pipes.
Built in 1887 by a Boston company called AH Howland, it supplied water to the growing community of Durham. It has also become a popular summer hot spot for swimming and picnicking along the shore.
Even today, more than a century later, the giant pumping station still attracts swimmers and hikers.
5. Cabelands cemetery and mill on the Eno river
If it looks like the Eno River is full of abandoned historic hiking sites, that’s because it is! The waterway has been the cornerstone of communities in North Carolina since the days when the Shakori, Occoneechee and Eno tribes made it their home.
The land was also settled by early European settlers, including the Cabe family, who colonized the land in 1780 and left the remains of their homes, mills, and family cemetery.
Near the Cabelands section of the Eno Trails, hikers may spot a ruined mill with iconic arcades or the shattered headstones and sunken graves of the Cabe Family Cemetery
Only 12 graves have official markers; however, historians say the burial site contains 51 graves. Some tombs are only noticeable for the way the ground sinks almost a foot deeper, forming coffin-sized clods in the earth.