“The Dismal Swamp Canal, on the border between Virginia and North Carolina… was basically a dredged passage through the marshes, and it enjoyed brief fame because of a hotel built on its banks directly on top of the state line.

“Young eighteenth century swells would hold duels here, one man standing in Virginia, the other on the far side of the border, making their crime legally ambiguous — particularly important if one of them died. And gamblers could scurry across the hotel lounge into North Carolina whenever any Virginia marshal arrived to break up their game.”

– From “The Men Who United the States: America’s Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible” by Simon Winchester (2013)

Charlotte to the Great Dismal Swamp perhaps being the cultural equivalent of Murphy to Manteo, I’m only now discovering the notorious Lake Drummond Hotel.  A more detailed description can be found in “The Great Dismal: A Carolinian’s Swamp Memoir” by Bland Simpson (1990).


On this day in 1889: Greenville, for decades thwarted in its desire for a branch of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, eagerly welcomes its first train.

The Eastern Reflector will note that “four of our beautiful young ladies” presented the engineer with “a handsome bronzed pair of antlers,” which he proudly mounted on the front of his engine.

Just wondering: Any chance those grand antlers have survived 125 years?



Fisherman & Farmer

Fisherman & farmer. (Edenton, N.C.), 04 Oct. 1900. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.


When classes officially began on Tuesday, many in-state undergraduate wallets were $8,374 lighter after paying tuition and fees. Over the past four years, tuition has increased about $2000. However, a century ago, the cost of attending UNC held steady for 38 years. Between 1886 and 1924, tuition was only $60 for in-state students. The advertisements from a 1900 issue of the Fisherman & Farmer and an 1887 issue of The Progressive Farmer provide information about the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including tuition and available curriculum.

Using an inflation calculator to adjust prices according to the historical Consumer Price Index data, a tuition payment in 1900 of $60.00 would be around $1,654 in today’s currency. The second advertisement lists room and board in 1887 at $5.00, which would be around $138.00 for a modern semester. In addition to this, education demand has gone considerably up as teaching faculty increased from 38 in 1900 to 3,696 active faculty in 2013. The newspaper images were obtained from Chronicling America.


The Progressive Farmer

The progressive farmer. (Winston, N.C.), 30 June 1887. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.




“Pigs produce 10 times the fecal matter as humans. That means that all the pigs in North Carolina produce the same amount of feces every day as the people in North Carolina, California, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and North Dakota.”

Rick Dove, Neuse Riverkeeper emeritus, as quoted in “Aporkalypse Now: Pig-Killing Virus Could Mean the End of Bacon” by Carrie Arnold at the Daily Beast (Aug. 20)


This week the North Carolina Collection welcomes new and returning UNC students to the 2014-15 academic year. Campus has been buzzing with students unpacking cars, buying books, and reuniting with friends. At the moment, everyone looks pretty clean… but it won’t be long before they all have dirty laundry.

laundry bag

Our August Artifact of the Month is a canvas laundry bag that was used by UNC students of two generations: First, Charles Edward Hight, Class of 1926, and later his daughter, Elna Hight, Class of 1964. Both Charles and Elna used this bag when attending UNC.

Charles & Elna Hight

We love that this humble laundry bag survived two tours of duty at UNC, decades apart. And we’re grateful to the Hight family for trusting us to be the caretakers of this timeless slice of student life.

Best wishes to all the students starting the academic year. Don’t forget to wash your sheets!

“Correction: Of course Duke is not in the Ivy League…. The article has been updated to reflect that, and we are embarrassed that many editors missed it.”

– From “When Pornography Pays for College: The trouble with Belle Knox” by Rachel Shteir in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Aug. 4)


“[The parents of John Green, author of the young-adult tearjerker  "The Fault in Our Stars"] retired to [Fairview] North Carolina, where, as he puts it, they grow vegetables and make soap, literally:

” ‘My mum has a business making soap from goat’s milk. Farmer Jane Soaps…. It’s infuriatingly inefficiently run. It could be a very successful business, but my mum defiantly makes it unprofitable. Like, if you push her about it — “Mom, you literally lose money on some of your soap sales” — she says “Oh, but I really like the people.” ’ ”

– From “The Teen Whisperer” by Margaret Talbot in The New Yorker (June 9)

Did you know North Carolina has two Fairviews?


“As recently as 1980, 76 percent of [North Carolina] residents were natives, and the next-largest source of state residents was South Carolina. Today, there are twice as many North Carolina residents born in New York as were born in South Carolina.”

Dreamy Dessert - Progressive Farmer

from The Progressive farmer’s southern cookbook

Celestial Crab - Heavenly Delights

Celestial Crab from Heavenly delights.

Milky Way Ice Cream - Granny's Drawers

Milky Way Ice Cream from Granny’s drawers : four generations of family favorites.

Out of This World Cake - Pass the Plate

“Out of the World” Cake from Pass the plate : the collection from Christ Church.

Heavenly Food - Favorite Recipes of the Lower Cape Fear

Heavenly Food from Favorite recipes of the Lower Cape Fear.

Cinnamon Stars - Bone Appetit

Cinnamon Stars from A book of favorite recipes.

Heavenly Chocolate Icebox Cake - Count Our Blessings

Heavenly Chocolate Icebox Cake from Count our blessings : 75 years of recipes and memories / Myers Park Presbyterian Church.

“Blowing Rock was a summer resort, and a rather posh one. Lured by the area’s beauty and cool summer air, wealthy families from throughout the Southeast maintained summer residences there. The Cannon textile barons had a huge estate, as did the R. J. Reynolds tobacco clan, and the Coca-Cola Snyders* from down in muggy Atlanta. Beginning in early June, our sidewalks sported pedestrians  in tennis whites and gold jewelry, our streets opened their asphalt arms to European sports cars and luxury sedans. There were boutiques with flagship stores in West Palm Beach and Boca Raton, a produce stand that displayed fruits (avocados, papayas, yellow plums) that no hillbilly could identify let along afford; and then there as the movie theater that showed first-run films as soon as they opened in Los Angeles and New York — until Labor Day Tuesday, that is, when it went as dark as the Tomb of the Unknown Gaffer.

“It was an annual occurrence. Come June, the merry masquerade began; come September, Appalachian reality settled upon the community with a mournful sigh. The shops were shuttered, golf courses deserted, the last fancy auto went Cadillacking down the mountain and out of town. Even the Lois XVI colors of the autumn leaves failed to paint over the detail that many residents would have to survive for nine months on what they’d earned in three. There would now be fatback suppers, rotgut hangovers, malnourished kids, flour-sack fashions, occasional stabbings; and always outbreaks of measles, whooping cough, scabies and head lice. And then… and then June would jack out of its box and life would get healthy and merry again.”

– From “Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life” by Tom Robbins (2014) 

Robbins, who was born in Blowing Rock in 1932, is best known for novels such as “Another Roadside Attraction” and “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.” 

* J. Luther Snyder, who moved from Atlanta to Charlotte to open the Carolinas’ first Coca-Cola bottling plant, developed the Chetola Estate in Blowing Rock.


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