When I started out this morning, I knew that I had two long days of asphalt to pound. I was looking forward to the scenery. I wasn’t looking forward to the hot asphalt and cars. Fortunately, the cloud cover in the afternoon helped a little to tame the sun towards the end of the day, and it was still pretty enjoyable.
After leaving the Eno River, I found that I followed its banks West into Hillborough. In fact, after close to 7 miles, I met up with the town’s Riverwalk, a paved trail that followed the river on the left and a practically manicured town on the right. From my vantage point, Hillsborough was so pretty, it almost didn’t look real.
There were art exhibits, park benches, multiple historic markers, the courthouse lawn (that looked prepped for a game of bocce ball), more art exhibits and even a bug spray station with cans and instructions for the public. I don’t know if it was planned art or merely vandalism, but I really did enjoy the graffiti art under the old trestle bridge. It was poignant and uplifting, but wasn’t too cutesy as to make me uncomfortable.
The original name was supposed to be Orange, but was later named after the Earl of Hillsborough, and the name stuck. Presumably, because they didn’t like the color orange, didn’t grow oranges, or its citizens didn’t want to open it up to too many puns and cheesy jokes. Orange you glad they didn’t name it Orange?
The town itself has fewer than 7,000 people. You wouldn’t know it to look at it, but Hillborough used to be a major trade route. Like Durham, Hillsborough was located along the Great Indian Trading Path and so it has a deep history of native settlements in and around the area. There are a few mock villages that have been set up in and around the town.
After leaving the park after nearly two miles of meandering with the Eno, trekked toward Mebane, which is another growing bedroom community for Triangle or Triad employers. The ’50s and 60’s era houses were well-maintained, and usually freshly painted. Children road their bikes down the street or played in their own backyards without too much supervision. Adults were out mowing lawns, planting flower bulbs and spreading mulch. It was Mayberry come to life.
Mebane was quickly gone after another 5 or 6 miles, and Haw River loomed before me where I ended the day. At one time, Haw River was bustling with industry and was home to the Cone Mills Corporation, one of the largest manufacturers of corduroy. Now you know who really to blame for the 1970s. You are welcome.
Since the plant close down, the town has really felt it’s loss. In the downtown, it seemed that the newest things I could see were the police cars and the entrance to the town. These folks fight hard to maintain their identity, but my guess is that I’m going to find out how much Haw River, is really just more Burlington, the town next door.
Sure, it sucks at first. But wait until you get going. Keep Moving Forward.