Let’s take a trip together, shall we? We’ll journey back in time — as far back as 300 years ago — and get a glimpse of the various modes of transportation used in Piedmont North Carolina, beginning with the early settlers. And while we’re at it, we’ll stop by a few local historic sites.
In the 1700s and 1800s, traveling was downright hard and was often dangerous. With a little help from the folks who sponsored the 4th Annual Yadkin Valley History Fair & Conference on Saturday, August 8, 2009, we’ll learn about such challenges as making one’s way over the Indian trails, dirt roads and treacherous rivers of earlier times.
Please continue to the NEXT SECTION for more HISTORY, PHOTOS and AUDIO on early transportation in the Yadkin Valley/Piedmont area of North Carolina. CLICK for more on Yesterday’s Journeys
The Nissen Wagon
Continuing on our history journey today, we’ll focus on the Nissen wagon. I think it’s reasonable to assume that many a Nissen wagon traveled the Great Wagon Road and crossed the Shallow Ford between the 1800s and the early 1900s (CLICK the preceding links to read my previous posts).
After all, by 1919 Nissen Wagon Works, as it was later named, was producing over 15,000 wagons per year, or about fifty wagons per day. The business was located in Waughtown, North Carolina (in the present-day Winston-Salem) and was operated by various members of the Nissen family from 1834 until 1925, when it was sold to F. B. Reamy for about one million dollars. Under new ownership, Nissen wagons continued to be produced until the 1940s, when the popularity of automobiles eclipsed demand for the wagons. [Source: StoppingPoints.com]
For further information on the Nissen wagon and to see additional photos, please continue to the NEXT SECTION. CLICK for more on the Nissen wagon
Crossing the Yadkin River
Last Saturday’s Shallow Ford Walk (on March 7, 2009) took a small group of explorers on a journey back to the days of Daniel Boone. When we stepped to the edge of the Yadkin River near the historic Shallow Ford, we stood not far from where horseback riders and horse-drawn wagons and stagecoaches had traversed as far back as 250 years ago. (The first bridge in the Shallow Ford area would not be built until 1920.)
For many individuals who lived in earlier times, crossing the Yadkin River and moving into the territories beyond represented an opportunity to follow their dreams. They were headed westward, toward promise and the hope for a better tomorrow for themselves and their families.
If you haven’t yet listened to the AUDIO RECORDING that accompanied the previous post (Exploring Shallow Ford), I invite you to do so. It’s a 38-minute recording of the panel discussion — led by Rod Meyer and Kyle Stimson — that illuminates some of what life was like for the early settlers in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, and particularly describes the importance of the Great Wagon Road to settlers and travelers alike.
For more resource information and photos, please continue to the NEXT SECTION.
CLICK for more on the Great Wagon Road
Shallow Ford: Where the Road West Began
A small band of explorers set out on an adventure last Saturday (March 7, 2009) to trace portions of the Great Wagon Road to and from the historic Shallow Ford on the Yadkin River.
Thanks to the planning and efforts of both the Lewisville Historical Society and the Yadkin Valley Historical Association, the day was a perfect blend of regional history discussions and real-life exploration that led us through open fields and undeveloped woods.
Daniel Boone’s Trail
On our hikes along both sides of the Yadkin River, we found portions of the Great Wagon Road — also known as the Daniel Boone Trail — untouched by housing or highway development. We also found the heavy cast iron markers that were placed on both sides of the river by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1913. The inscription on the markers reads:
Daniel Boone’s Trail from North Carolina to Kentucky – 1769
Marked by N. C. Daughters of the American Revolution
Throughout the day, we heard stories of Daniel Boone and other important families who had helped shape the land, the roads and the communities of the Piedmont. We learned about the Moravian settlers’ strategic, efficient manner of completing the Great Wagon Road from Bethabara to Lewisville. We listened to accounts of the Tories and the Whigs in the Battle of Shallow Ford, among other fascinating historical tidbits.
[FOR MORE HISTORY on the Shallow Ford and the Great Wagon Road, check out this 1996 article by Ann Brownlee: The Shallow Ford.]
As usual I took photographs of the Shallow Ford Walk, and they can be viewed in the Shallow Ford Walk photo gallery.
Audio File of Panel Discussion
In addition to the photos, I’ve provided a 38-minute MP3 recording of the panel discussion led by Rod Meyer, the retired director of Bethabara Historic Park, and Kyle Stimson, a local historian and author of The Great Philadelphia Wagon Road: Path of Settlement, Harbinger of Revolution.
Rod and Kyle started looking for the Great Wagon Road about 20 years ago. I think you’ll find their discussion to be full of interesting history told in a compelling manner. Simply CLICK on the link below to begin listening to the accounts of these two self-professed “road bucks.” The recording starts right after Rod Meyer is introduced, so you’ll hear from Rod first, followed a little later by Kyle.
Shallow Ford Walk Panel Discussion (MP3, 38 MIN.)
More on the Battle of Shallow Ford
Check out an interesting article at History.com that gives some detail regarding the engagement of the Patriots and the Loyalists at the Battle of Shallow Ford. CLICK to read “Patriots sting Loyalists at Shallow Ford, North Carolina.”
MORE LINKS on the Battle of Shallow Ford: