(Photograph copyright 2010 by Dan Routh)
If you stand on the bridge over Deep River on Hinshaw Town Rd in southeastern Randolph County, North Carolina, and look north, you see a tranquil yet nondescript scene. Nothing special is there to let you know that this is probably the most historically rich spot in Randolph County. Within just a mile or so from this spot are the Hinshaw farm and Evergreen Academy I posted about in an earlier blog post, as well as Cox’s Mill, the last intact water powered grist mill in the county. Closer still are two eighteenth century mill sites, an eighteenth century sawmill site, and at least 3 bridge sites. Buffalo Ford was a major crossing point of the Deep River on the route from Hillsboro to South Carolina, and in 1780, several thousand American Continental troops were camped here for several weeks when General Horatio Gates took command at this spot and then marched his army south to the ill-fated Battle of Camden. In 1781, Tory leader David Fanning’s base camp was located here from which he raided patriot forces in the neighboring areas. That’s a lot of history in a very compact area. That’s the up side. Ask most folks in Randolph County if they have any idea that Buffalo Ford exists, and most won’t know what I’m talking about. That’s the downside. Pity.
(Postscript: The name Buffalo Ford comes from the fact that in the 18th century, there were native bison still alive in the area.)