I think of the children who will never know, intuitively, that a flower is a plant’s way of making love, or what silence sounds like, or that trees breathe out what we breathe in.
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Barry Jacobs has moved from Durham to the countryside, near Hillsborough. He’s a free-lance writer with a special interest in American history.
You’ve probably never heard of Bartlett Snipes Durham, the doctor who gave his land and name to a small waystation on the North Carolina Railroad in eastern Orange County. And chances are you never would have heard of him or the town if Joe Johnston hadn’t stopped by.
Gangs of workmen and an iron wrecking ball (invented for the occasion) pounded the great ship’s metal hull round the clock for two years. Like everything else about the Great Eastern, the task of removing its three million bolts confounded the experts of its time. When quiet finally returned to the countryside near Cheshire, England the salvagers, like every other group that owned the Great Eastern, had lost a fortune.
According to the Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce, “at least 116 late 18th and early 19th century structures” still grace the town’s quiet streets. Many are beautifully preserved and marked for the passerby. One, the Colonial Inn on King Street, still operates as an inn, with Southern-style lunches and dinners served by waitresses in colonial get-up.
Graham’s founders were pleased with the pretty little town which grew around their stucco and brick courthouse. So pleased, according to legend, that they rejected the proposed passage of the North Carolina Railroad’s dirty, disruptive locomotives within a block of the courthouse, choosing peace over progress and prosperity.
The Danville Highway (Highway 86) is one of the prettiest roads around, hugging ridges from which you can see for miles, winding down into overgrown bottoms reminiscent of the mountains. Passing through fields and woods, past abandoned stores and schools and old ladies in bright sun bonnets, about 30 miles north of Hillsborough it slips by Yanceyville, the Caswell County seat.
Roxboro’s a sensible town. Has been since the 1790’s, when its founders set it smack in the middle of Person County. They wanted their county seat to be easy to get to.