Friday, April 27, 2012

Small Town America Part 2

As I mentioned in our last post, we drove the two miles or so back to Weldon again on Wednesday.  There were a few more things we wanted to check out.

Not only is Weldon the Rockfish Capital of the World, back in the day, Weldon was also known for its railroad.  The first railway charter in the United States was the Baltimore and Ohio in 1827.  In early 1830, the Commonwealth of Virginia chartered the Petersburg Railroad Company to run a line to connect the Appomattox River to the Roanoke River near Weldon.  The Wilmington and Weldon Railroad was the longest railroad in the world when it was completed in 1840 -- a whopping 161 1/2 miles long.  By 1855, five rail companies operated lines to and through Weldon and some termed Weldon as the "Railroad Capital of the World."  

Today the old train station stands proudly as a reminder of Weldon's railroad history.  In 1924, the station was converted into the town's library and is still active as such today.

A daily average of 54 Amtrak and CSX Freight Trains pass overhead in Weldon.  

We also saw a couple of Amtrak trains go by, but we were never in a position to take a picture.

Weldon Freight Depot ca 1840 -- now a radio station
We even found the little red caboose 
Alan sitting where the brakeman sat
Yes, that is the toilet
There was once a wood stove to the left of the wood box

Since fishermen come from all over this time of the year to catch a rockfish, we wanted to see the Roanoke River to see what we could see.  We were surprised when we pulled in the parking lot near the boat launch and saw all the trucks with empty trailers.  Yep, the fishermen showed up for sure.

All different kinds of boats
And even those without a boat, but he does have a helper
The rapids of the Roanoke River
If you know what a barbless hook is, please tell us.
Is this the way to the trail?
Uh-Oh, Mother Nature Struck Here
Oops, end of the trail from this direction

One last thing we wanted to find before we left Weldon and that was the Confederate Cemetery.  We looked and looked and couldn't find it.  We stopped at the Library to ask and they didn't know.  We went back and once again followed the very small signs and we finally found it -- at the end of a street.

It was so grown up and was not in a very good area, so we debated whether to park and walk to see what we could.  

We decided we came this far we weren't going to turn back now.  We just hoped we would not get any ticks or chiggers -- or even mugged.  Since I was born in North Carolina, I was interested to see if anyone with my maiden name (Potts) was buried in this cemetery.

There were very few visible headstones
This headstone states nearly 100 soldiers were buried here from 1861-1865.

When we stopped at the Library to ask for directions to the cemetery, although "Maggie" didn't know the location of the cemetery, she printed some information for us.  (She wouldn't let us take her pic).  In 2009, this unmarked burial area erected a large marble marker that contains the names of the 170 soldiers buried here.

And lo and behold there it was -- third name from the bottom

"Peter W.M. Potts Co. E 42ND N.C. APR 15, 1863"

What a surprise that was for me -- I couldn't help but wonder who he was and could we in fact be related?

Thousands of Confederate soldiers were kept in and around Weldon at all times.  They suffered from various diseases and many died.  Through the years, many efforts have been made to restore and preserve the cemetery.  The land belonged to a woman who would not sell it or permit improvement.  She passed away and the land was sold to uninterested persons and the cemetery fell into a sad state.  In 1913, the soldiers' cemetery came into the hands of a highly respected black man, David Smith, who said he had known these men and learned to love them and he would give the land to the local United Daughters of the Confederacy.  Sadly, the chapter of this particular UDC disbanded in 1986.  Since 2009 when the memorial was erected, the cemetery has once again become an eyesore -- as you could see from the pictures.

Downtown Weldon today
Surrounding area
We always say when you see a rule, there has to be a reason for it, but we couldn't help but wonder how they plan to enforce this one?
What a life...
This little guy started our day off just singing away outside our window

You just never know what you'll find until you get out and explore 
-- even in and around the small towns of America or Canada, or wherever you may be.    

That's it for now and that's pretty much it for Weldon, North Carolina, population 2,879.  Who knows what we will find next.  Thanks for stopping by -- we hope you have enjoyed our small look at small town America.  Until next time, God bless you one and all. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Small Town America

After spending two days inside the motorhome because of rain, wind and much cooler temperatures, we ventured out yesterday to see what we could find.  We had seen this sign in several places along the  highway, so we decided to check it out.


As I stated in an earlier post, there isn't a lot here.  A lot of businesses are boarded up and we've been told Halifax County is the poorest in North Carolina.  So, we couldn't imagine we would find much, but we were mistaken!

Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, is on one side of I-95 and Weldon, North Carolina, is on the opposite side, approximately three miles from the campground.  Little did we know the interesting things we would find right under our nose.  

We had driven through a portion of Weldon prior to yesterday.  What we saw was not very inviting, so we couldn't imagine there being shoppes/outlets "along the river," but we figured we must have missed something.  So back we went.

Weldon is known in this area as the Rockfish Capital of the WORLD.

What's a rockfish we asked??  We had never heard of such.  WELL, a rockfish is actually a striped bass.  Every Spring thousands of fishermen flock to the Roanoke River to catch their share of striped bass.  

The City of Weldon was founded by William Weldon, who had been given the land by his father, Daniel Weldon, in the 1700s.   In 1843, the town was incorporated and recognized by the state.  During the Civil War, Weldon was home to a soldier hospital.  In 2009, Weldon was officially recognized by the North Carolina General Assembly as the Rockfish Capital of the World.

We followed the signs and ended up at an old cotton mill that is now home to the shoppes/outlets mentioned on the signs.

The Weldon Cotton Manufacturing Company was a major component of the industrial development of the Roanoke Navigational Canal in the early 1900s.  It was the only textile plant on the canal and produced yarns and underwear.

What a pleasant surprise we found when we walked through the door.  The area to the right was full of wonderful antiques.

Can you say books?
This is definitely our kind of place -- we love browsing
I especially liked this lamp made from an old wood stove
75-piece banquet set

Can you guess what this is?

No, it's not a play house.  It's an early 1900s bird cage.  The top can be removed for cleaning.  The front door opens for removing and placing the birds.  Price tag -- $1250.  I bet you won't find another one anywhere -- esp in such pristine condition.

It says it still works!
Oh My Word, it's neverending
A Victorian settee and 4 matching chairs
Made exclusively from Teakwood -- price tag $3700

On the opposite side of the building were various crafts.
These are folding kitchen islands
These are new, name brand clothes, mainly from QVC.
And then there's the basement bargains
It's neverending

I took so many pictures, my battery died.  You're probably thinking "Thank goodness."  LOL

I'm going to stop for now, but there's more.  We went back to Weldon again today.  The population of Weldon, North Carolina, is less than 3000 and the unemployment rate is 12%, so what else could there be to see?  Well, there is a little more history I want to share, so stay tuned.  One thing I learned is just like with a book, you can't judge it by its cover.  Well, sometimes you can't judge a small American town by how it appears on the outside, but if you delve into it, you may be surprised what you find.

Until next time, God bless.