Hillsboro-Fayetteville Stagecoach Road


O’Kelley Chapel at the intersection of NC Hwy 751 and O’Kelly Chapel Rd (SR 1731), Chatham County. credit: Glenn Abbey via Wikipedia

 The Museum of Durham History’s latest installment in the Durham A-Z series is G is for Geography and Growth, on display through October 14, 2015. This exhibit highlights how Durham’s unique geography influenced how and where people travelled and settled in Durham County. In conjunction with the new exhibit, community historian David Southern writes about five colonial and pre-colonial roads that crossed Durham and the surrounding area. These old paths played an important part in shaping the Durham we travel and live in today.

Hillsboro-Fayetteville Stagecoach Road

Until the twentieth century and the rise of the Piedmont Crescent, North Carolina’s most populous cities were Wilmington and Fayetteville, and in Wake, Durham, Orange, and Alamance counties numerous roads once bore the tag Fayetteville Road. Both of the Fayetteville roads in Durham county entered from the south as a single track along the course of present-day NC 751, running north from the historic O’Kelley Chapel (birthplace of one-quarter of the United Church of Christ denomination). Though much straightened for automobile traffic, the course follows that state highway north until its junction with NC 54, and at that point it then followed Garrett Road past the Jordan High School campus and across Old Chapel Hill Road to present-day US 15-501. From there it veered through the present Oak Creek shopping mall and crossed Mud Creek through farmlands and woods that have been recently developed into subdivisions. Where Pickett Road curves at the Liberty School and the road becomes a dirt track, one can see the high banks of the old pike as it passes the anteBellum Patterson-Rose house and the Orange county line in the Duke Forest. On the west side of Erwin Road, a few feet into the Duke Forest, there is a sizeable pit that marks the crossing of this road and the New Hope Road, an ancient crossroad of considerable significance.

Originally published in the News & Observer

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