211 Work Will Spare Marker
Buffalo once roamed the route now known as N.C. 211, where bulldozers are clearing a swath of land to accommodate a highway widening project.
An old concrete monument near the main entrance of Pinewild Country Club informs the curious that N.C. 211 was once the Yadkin Trail, an ancient cartway carved out by Native Americans and later traveled by Colonial Americans.
“A lot of early homesteads were built along that trail,” says local historian Ray Owen. “The European settlers used it as they came through this area.”
Although concern has been expressed about the safety of the historic site marker, the engineer supervising the N.C. 211 widening says the monument stands outside the right of way and should not be jeopardized by highway construction.
John Olinger, division construction engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT), says there are no plans to move the monument and all contracts contain provisions covering preservation of environmental and historic items in the path of construction. Such factors may be re-examined only if a safety hazard is posed, he adds.
“We look at everything,” Olinger says. “We look at people, plants, water — everything.”
Mike Wilson, a property owner near West End, says he is concerned that construction workers will accidentally damage the concrete marker, which is almost completely hidden by bushes and weeds.
Wilson, who was a member of the Small Area A Plan Steering Committee, has reason to be interested. The historic Yadkin Road once ran through his longleaf pine-dotted farmland. He recalls that a campground was once located along the trail, as was Poplar Springs.
“It goes right by my house,” Wilson says.
The monument is topped by a simple sign reporting that this is the Yadkin Road, with arrows pointing in opposite directions. The inscription on the much larger monument below reads:
“Said to be a buffalo trail connecting the Upper Yadkin River pastures with those of the lower Cape Fear. Used in Colonial days by emigrants passing westward; through the Revolution by Cornwallis and during the Civil War by Sherman’s troops.”
Four such monuments are known to have been erected in Moore County in 1927 as a joint effort by Rassie Wicker, a famed local historian, and Leonard Tufts, of the Pinehurst founding families.
The markers were probably made in the shop owned by Rassie Wicker’s father, A.J. Wicker, in Pinehurst. A park in Pinehurst is named in memory of Rassie Wicker, whose knowledge of local history and efforts for preservation are legendary.
Leonard Tufts, who lives in the Murdocksville Road community near Pinehurst, says the Tufts who worked with Rassie Wicker was undoubtedly his grandfather. Wicker died in 1972.
The other markers were placed on Page Road, at the Traffic Circle and in Manly on the extension of May Street.
Michael Hill, a member of the Archives and History Division staff of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, says Wicker and Tufts were probably inspired by the series of Daniel Boone markers that crisscross much of the United States.
About 60 of the Boone markers were erected in the western part of North Carolina. Those markers were the work of J. Hampton Rich, whose grave in Davie County is designated by an arrowhead-shaped monument reminiscent of the typical Boone marker.
“Those old monuments are well worth preserving,” Hill says of the Yadkin Road markers.
Hill works closely with NCDOT on issues relating to preservation of historic monuments. He says that usually, if an object of historic value must be moved, it will be carefully transported elsewhere for safekeeping. If needed, it would be cleaned and would be re-erected at or near the original location.
In this case, Hill does not think such removal should be needed. However, he does say it would be a good idea if a local group would clean up the site and make it more presentable and more visible to the public.
Work presently under way on the N.C. 211 widening is confined to grading and clearing beside the route. Olinger says the construction contract will not be awarded until October.
Because the Yadkin Road markers were not erected by the state and are located on private property, they are not maintained by the state and are not controlled by the state except in their status as historic artifacts.
The name Yadkin is associated with Moore County from the standpoint of history, not geography. Based on a Native American name, the Yadkin River runs some 215 miles from near the Blue Ridge Parkway into the Pee Dee River at the confluence with the Uwharrie, then makes its way into South Carolina, where it becomes the Great Pee Dee River near Cheraw.
But Owen says the trail runs along the watershed, and Moore County was a link between the Yadkin River basin and the eastern part of the state, forming a major thoroughfare for the buffalo that inhabited the region in pre-Colonial years. Native Americans liked the route, as did the European settlers.
Owen theorizes that the trail may have crossed the Walthour-Moss Foundation acreage in Southern Pines Horse Country, followed what is today known as Midland Road through Pinehurst and on toward West End. Records show that the trail probably originated in the Fayetteville area and ended near Mocksville.
The exact route is of course lost in the mists of history.
“It’s an indication of the founding of our community,” Owens says.
Yadkin is the name of five entities listed in the Moore County Telephone Directory, including a group home, a farm, veterinary services and a fitness center.
The river is not here, but the name Yadkin is very much alive.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at email@example.com.
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