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Carrboro and Chapel Hill aren't the only towns with a history around here. We are surrounded by places with names like Calvander, Bynum, Eli Whitney, White Cross, Silk Hope, Snow Camp, Saxapahaw and more. Each place has a story and if you take the time, you'll come to appreciate this area as much as we do.
Here are some highlights of these places we call home.
Before Carrboro was known as the "Paris of the Piedmont" it held sway as the railroad tie capital of the world. Famous for all the railroad ties shipped from here close to where Southern Rail stands today. Carrboro was blue collar and proud of it. Known now for its tolerance and diversity it has become a place to be, not unlike Chapel Hill was back in the 60's and 70's. Carrboro and it's roots were a little more rough and tumble than Chapel Hill however with biker bars, brothels and liquor houses. Today there is still an edge here around free spirit and free thinking. You can be as different as you like here as long as you are different like me. And don't miss the famous Carrboro Farmers Market!
Y'all know UNC is the oldest the public schools of higher education in America, but many do not realize just what the school has meant to our community. It has brought and continues to bring folks that value education, work for government and municipalities, and think outside the box. Sports are about teamwork, personal challenge and sportsmanship, not salaries and signing bonuses. We have a real castle and retain folks like Bill and Ida Friday just because of what the university brings to our community. Besides...we have the coolest mascot in all of college sports, GO HEELS!
Just north of Carrboro, still in the school district, is a cross roads that old timers and those in the know call Calvander. Home to a few respected business it retains the rural history and characteristics that made our county and our country great. Home to a gas station that serves hotdogs southern style, a mechanic shop that grows it's own tomatoes, grass fed beef farmers and a landscape and mulch distributor, some say Calvander is the gateway to Hillsborough. All up and down Dairyland, Old Hwy 86 and Homestead Road you can see the power of community, the power of Calvander.
White Cross -
Located roughly five miles west of Carrboro is a the community of White Cross. Rural in character, this area is dotted with Carolina-T farmhouses, active organic farms such as the Eco Farm and the Perry-winkle Farm, as well as a number of equestrian facilities. Once the center of the community, the old White Cross Elementary School now houses the NC Writer's Network. We would be remiss not to mention the fantastic food found at Fiesta Grill, an award winning restaurant many times over.
The intersection of White Cross Road and Old Greensboro Highway features the White Cross Recreation center with ball fields, a gynmansium and a playground. The Orange County Parks & Recreation Department hosts youth league practice and games here. And, once a year the Center hosts the White Cross Tractor Pull as their major fundraiser.
There are many artists and musicians that live in the community who enjoy the beauty of rural Orange County yet appreciate the proximity to Chapel Hill and all it offers.
Silk Hope -
Silk Hope is a traditional farming community which was first settled by English Quakers more than 250 years ago. Agriculture is still a major activity here, and thousands of people come out for the Old Fashioned Farm Days held each year on Labor Day weekend. Its open fields surrounded by mature woodlands are a beautiful place to watch the stars at night.
Besides agriculture, the hills of Silk Hope are home to prominent artists and craftspeople, a fine winery and one of the best little music festivals in the South, the Shakori Hills Grassroots Music Festival, held each April and October. Located in Chatham County between Pittsboro and Siler City but less than a half-hour from Chapel Hill, Silk Hope is still the kind of place where people look out for each other and will wave every time they see you.
Ask us some time where the name comes from. It's a good story.
Saxapahaw/Haw River -
Once the home the home ground of the Sissipahaw Indians, Saxapahaw is an old cottonmill village located in the bend of an S-curve and sliced by the Haw River. For the perfect summer evening, head to the farmers' market and music series, held each Saturday from 5-8 p.m., May until September.
Saxapahaw is also the home of the Saxapahaw General Store, where foodie Chef Jeff Barney attracts patrons far and wide to his fantastic feasts, and the Paperhand Puppet Theatre, who inhabit and perform in the old gymnasium, and Rock Rest Adventures, which leads guided tours of the river.
Saxapahaw is 10 miles from Chapel Hill, as the crow flies. From points eastward, take Highway 54 west to Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Road. Flanked by untamed woods and rolling pastures, it's a gorgeous drive. Saxapahaw is a tad over the Orange-Alamance County Line.
Chatham County -
Chatham County is the most rural county in the Triangle, the largest in size and one of the most diverse. Beginning just a few miles south of Carrboro, it extends all the way down to the Devil's Tramping Ground near the sandhills. Chatham is crossed by three beautiful and very unique rivers: the Haw, the Rocky and the Deep. Pittsboro is the county seat: a mecca for artists, musicians and organic farmers. Check out Shakori Hills Music Festival, Central Carolina Community College, Abundance Foundation, White Pines Natural Area, Deep River Canoe Trail, Bynum Front Porch, Chatham Arts!, Chatham County Studio Tour, Silk Hope Winery, Starrlight Meadery, Pittsboro Roadhouse and more.
Bynum, once a thriving mill town, now boasts an eclectic mix of folks living in the grand estates and the simple millworkers cottages, some working at home and many taking an easy drive to work places throughout the Triangle. The community garden, weekly potlucks, Haw River Assembly headquarters, Clyde Jones and his Smithsonian quality folk art all contribute to the ambiance. The closing of the general merchandise store in the center of town marked the end of an important era but a new gathering event took its place. Now folks from all walks of life, counties near and far, tote their lawn chairs and dancing shoes to the Friday night Front Porch Music series on the lawn. It's an outdoor family event not to be missed.
Bynum Road (off 15-501) was once a loop road crossing the mighty Haw River at the mill site. The one lane bridge was saved from demolition by great community efforts and is open for walking, bird study and the 30 year tradition of a magnificent carved pumpkin display at Halloween. The local Ruritan Club fundraisers keep folks fed with fish fries, chicken and dumplins, bbq, layer cakes and pies. But the best barbecue in the South, vinegar based of course, is found at Allen and Son Barbecue, just at the turn into the village. Our mouths water with years of memories.
Walkable Pittsboro is a comfortable town to rest yourself, close enough to big city life but small enough to recognize who's just visiting. The downtown area is vibrant with antique shops, art galleries, Roy Underhill's Woodwright School and that circle drive around the central courthouse. But thats a story in itself. Recycling and reuse is a habit here as evidenced by the thrift shops, Habitat Restore and our famous Beggars and Choosers. S and T's Soda shop will take you back in time when you stop in for a cone of ice cream. Lunch is served to one and all each Thursday, a volunteer contribution at St Barts off Rectory Street and just this past December the free annual holiday dinner, Donna at Our Neighborhood School filled the plates of 250 folks.
There is much to celebrate in this little town. Home to the American Livestock Breeder Conservancy, Rural Advancement Foundation Internation, or RAFI as we call it, Carolina Farm Stewardship, the folks that bring us the annual Piedmont Farm Tour and Piedmont Biofuels, good work is happening to protect and inspire. Chatham Marketplace our local food coop and several farmers markets will keep you in local foods from our home grown organic farmers. And of course the Sustainable Farming program at Central Carolina Community College is nationally recognized.
Ahh, Durham, like a pheonix from the ashes, Durham is in the midst of a rebirth. Once known as the "Black Wall Street" Durham was a wealthy city with beautiful architecture, a bustling downtown and the largest concentration of black owned businesses and financial houses in the country. Tobacco and textile mills were the great economic drivers. Alas, over time, like many urban centers across the country, the demographic forces shifted to malls and suburbia and the cities suffered. But, baseball and beer came to the rescue! The Durham Bulls, a triple A baseball team made famous by Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon, started bringing folks back to downtown. Fullsteam Brewery, with their plow-to-pint philosophy, started the revitalization of east Durham. The farm-to-fork movement came along and brought many amazing restaurants with it. DPAC brings Broadway shows. The Carolina Theatre hosts the acclaimed Full Frame Documentary series. And of course, Southpoint Mall has an IMAX theater. It's not completely gentrified though; you can still order chitlins and biscuits at JC's Kitchen on E. Main Street or buy a Play Station at the pawn shop. Durham is a place of great diversity with space for folks from all walks of life.