Dedicated to the study and preservation of the historic sites in the Trading Ford area of the Yadkin River for the enrichment of all North Carolina's people. Founded in 2003.
How we came to be
I was one of those people who always hated history in school – memorizing dates and places, yech ptooey! That changed in 1994 when my Mom discovered that one of our ancestors (Capt. Henry Francis) was the only Whig killed in the Revolutionary War Battle of Shallow Ford which occurred near the Yadkin River in October of 1780. I thought since Capt. Francis had been killed in a Revolutionary War battle, I’d be able to pick up books (plural) and find out all about it. That wasn’t the case. Like so much of North Carolina’s early history, information about the battle had slipped into obscurity, the memory kept alive only by brief references in county heritage books. So, I began to research the battle, delving into both primary and secondary sources in North Carolina and Virginia. It required a lot of detective work, but, in time, I succeeded in fleshing out the details of the battle.
In 2000, the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) of the National Park Service (NPS) was funded by Congress to conduct a survey of America’s Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields and associated sites (reported back to Congress in 2008). The Carolinas Backcountry Alliance (CBA) was funded to conduct these surveys in North and South Carolina. I was asked to submit a survey of the Shallow Ford site. It took a bit of arm-twisting, but, eventually, I agreed to also survey the Trading Ford site, near Salisbury, where I live.
I thought the Trading Ford site would be easier than the Shallow Ford. After all, the Trading Ford conflict mainly involved Red Coats and Blue Coats, not the local militias who had engaged at the Shallow Ford. Again, that was not the case. Not only had the historic events become just as obscure, but I also did not find anyone who knew where the Trading Ford was, other than “out there somewhere”. It took a year-and-a-half to find the exact location of the Trading Ford, eight years to find the location of the sister Yadkin Ford.
Based on local scuttlebutt, I thought the Trading Ford site would be the poster child for a lost historic site. I intended to document it and get out. But, as I looked further, I discovered that there was more left of the historic site than people had assumed, and also discovered a microcosm of history (and intact historic landscapes) centered in the Trading Ford area: Native American history dating back 11,500 years; possibly the site of a short-lived Spanish fort in 1567 and 1568; the scene visited by early explorers during the period 1670 to 1701; early European settlement which began in the 1740s and included land dealings by the Kings of England, Lord Granville, and the McCulloh family, who had claimed a “Manor tract” near the Trading Ford, as well as the Jersey settlement on one side of the Yadkin River, and early land holdings on the other; a network of early roads, fords, and ferries; a confrontation by a large group of Regulators in 1771; the establishment of two camps near the Yadkin Ford during the Revolutionary War; the scene of Gen. Nathanael Green’s escape from the pursuing British during the Revolutionary War, saving his troops to confront the British face-to face at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse; the site of the first bridge over the Yadkin River, and North Carolina’s first covered bridge; the site of the first railroad bridge built over the Yadkin; an earthwork fort which protected the bridges and where Confederates won their final victory in North Carolina during the Civil War; five other bridges built over the river in the late 19th century – early 20th century; three bridges built as part of the Interstate highway system; and plans for a high-speed rail to cross the river in the same area in the future.
The Trading Ford area’s rich history had been ignored by both historians and development for decades. Thus began a fourteen-year (at this time) quest for the information which would restore this history to its rightful place. Unfortunately, development (I-85 expansion, Duke Energy’s building of a second power plant near the Trading Ford, and activity by a racetrack developer) have destroyed some of the historic sites which I was privileged to visit and document. It is critical that we preserve what is left. The Trading Ford Historic District Preservation Association was founded in 2003 to undertake this task, and to responsibly make these historic sites available to the public.
- Ann Brownlee, President and Founder
Raised from obscurity information about the places and events which make the Trading Ford area one of the rarest areas where history has been so consolidated in a small geographic area in the United States. A “taste” of this history can be found on our website: http://www.trading-ford.org/history.html . Through our efforts, public awareness of the importance of the historic Trading Ford area has greatly increased, and the Trading Ford area has received recognition at the local, state, and national level.
Successfully nominated the “Trading Ford District” to North Carolina’s Study List (indicating probable eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places), approved by the National Register Advisory Committee, in 2003.
As a stakeholder, successfully advocated for the inclusion of cultural landscapes along the Yadkin River in Alcoa’s “National Register of Historic Places Eligibility Study” conducted by Thomason and Associates (2004) as part of Alcoa Power Generating, Inc.’s (APGI) relicensing process. This ground-breaking study recognized the Trading Ford area as “the most significant location in the High Rock Reservoir basin” and recommended an eligible historic district there, and also recognized other significant historic places in the project area which otherwise would have been overlooked.
Succeeded in a determination of eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places approved by NCDOT and the NC State Historic Preservation Office of the “Yadkin River Crossings Historic District” in 2005. This eligible historic district included: the Beard Bridge/Piedmont Toll Bridge site; Fort York/Camp Yadkin Civil War site; the Wil-Cox Bridge; the 1953 Hwy 29/70 Bridge; the two NC Railroad Bridges; a 0.8 mile section of the Trading Path; and the Big Island.
Saved the Trading Ford Monument from demolition by NCDOT, and, along with the Churchland Lions Club, restored the Monument in 2009. Successfully nominated the “Trading Ford Road and Monument Park” to North Carolina’s Study List in 2010.
Principally due to the actions of the Davidson County Commissioners, and along with Buddy Gettys of Spencer, successfully advocated for the preservation of the historic Wil-Cox Bridge in 2010.
YOUR MEMBERSHIP MAKES A DIFFERENCE. JOIN OR RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY.
$10 Citizen (our best bargain)
$25 Corporal (principal membership category: Individual or Family
----- Organization (reciprocal)
Mail dues and contact information (name; address; phone number; email; organizational affiliation, if any) to:
Trading Ford Historic District Preservation Association
400 Lantz Avenue
Salisbury, NC 28144
Join our mailing list by emailing: preservation at trading-ford dot org (no contribution required)
The Trading Ford Historic District Preservation Association is incorporated in the State of North Carolina. It is designated a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit organization with the IRS. Contributions are not tax-deductible.
Membership and contribution lists are for Trading Ford Historic District Preservation Association use only.