by Kyle Obermilller
As part of my job as easement monitor here at TLC, I have had the pleasure to explore most of our properties across the region. I’ve spent time exploring in Chatham County along the Deep and the Rocky Rivers, and I’ve traveled all across Johnston, Wake, Orange, and Durham Counties. This unique experience takes me into all sorts of landscapes, from mature hardwood forests dominated by towering oaks and hickories, to steep bluffs overlooking winding creeks and streams. This blog contains a few tales and findings from my trips out into these lands.
Each monitoring day starts by making sure the GPS is charged and gathering up maps and information on the properties’ whereabouts. Generally I’ll have many different directions at my disposal which tend to take me on a wild goose chase down back roads, leading to me getting lost. After a few (or many) u-turns, I find the property sign and monitoring begins. I strap on my bright orange vest, gather up new TLC Preserve signage, grab the hammer and nails, and head off into the woods.
On one particular visit, up north of Durham, along a small creek I found a stone pit dug into the side of a small hill. Right by the stream, remnants of crates, barrels, and old jugs are buried under years and years of leaf debris from the trees above. What could it be? Could I have stumbled upon an old moonshine still location? I look around for more clues, and there’s a big one written in the bark of an old beech tree: “S.C. Evans – 1924” is carved right near the site. Just like any curious person, I started brainstorming the history of a back country moonshiner. Could Mr. Evans have been a man who raced away from the law down dirt roads in Bahama and Rougemont? Even better in my mind, could there have been an Evans who took to the track racing Fireball Roberts, Lee Petty and other Nascar legends at the Occoneechee Speedway in the ‘50’s? My mind races along with my fictional tales until my daydreams are stopped, usually when my face becomes fully wrapped by a spider web the size of Texas.
I love how history seems to preserve itself in many unique ways for us to find. Many of our properties have old buildings, barns, and even cemeteries on them. While the structures may not yield “American Picker” quality treasures, each one offers you a glimpse of past culture. The nickel and dime soda bottles speak stories of a time where they probably had to walk uphill in the snow to get to and from school. With each new story I can’t help but think; I’m the one lucky enough to claim these adventures as “another day on the job!” Only time will tell what will be unearthed on my next trip…
This is “The Dirt”, a blog from TLC Staff to our supporters. Thank you for your support and care for conservation. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them below or contact me directly at [email protected]. I hope you enjoyed this latest edition of “Tales from the Field” and stay tuned for the next tale: A Battle against Invasives.