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NC School of Science and Mathematics

2004 Student Intensive

The Search for Fish Dam Road

Notes from the Field

Samantha Woolery, Student

Thursday, April 8


        Our last day of mini-term started off at a place called Rocky Branch.  We parked on the side of the road, like usual, and all piled out of the vans. On our way into the woods we passed by some car remains from what looked like a wreck (very encouraging ^_^). After a short walk through the woods, we came to a body of water. It was there that Joe told us about the water and the fact that it was built by the Army Core of Engineers.   We followed the shore of the water for a ways until we reached the Neuse River and could see where Fish Dam Road was going to cross the water and come out on the other side. We hiked back to the vans so that we could drive to the other side.

        We crossed a bridge and made it to the other side. We piled out once again and headed back into the woods to find the road. Inside of the woods Joe pointed out the remains of a building covered by some fallen leaves. He told us that in the winter he had found long, thin pieces of iron. He had concluded that these were for the rims of wagon wheels and that the building was probably a blacksmith's shop that was built right off of the side of Fish Dam Road.

        We decided that this would be a good spot to take some group pictures so we all dumped our cameras on Joe and grouped together. Once we had taken about a hundred pictures we decided to split up. A group of us stayed where we were while the rest marched on down the road. The group that stayed behind amused ourselves by sharing stories, having nature searches for unique pieces of glass, and playing baseball with a stick and an old Easter egg that was found.

        The other group returned and we hiked out of the woods the same way we had come. We jumped on the van and mini-bus and headed over to Scott Harkey's house. We were all super excited because we knew of the treat he had for us: FRIED CHICKEN AND BRYER'S ICE CREAM! (the school of Math and Science is not known for it's exceptional food). The nearly 90 year old man served us all to out fill after a short prayer by the near-by pastor. We spread out across his porch, lawn, and drive way and ate.

        After lunch, we all gathered around Mr. Harkey's porch and listened to him recall his younger days. He told us he had grown up in Charlotte, my hometown, and had moved out to Durham in 1935 to work on Duke University's campus.  He also told us about the tobacco business. First you have to prime it, then hang it, and then sheet it. When asked about World War 2, he said that everything was rationed. Families got coupons, but they were not like the coupons we use today. These coupons were not to save money, but to get you certain items. One thing he remembered in particular was the fact that you got 3 gallons of gas per week. Can you imagine that happening today!?!?

        When Mr. Harkey was done sharing we passed around papers with the "Fish Dam Road Song" on it. Each of the students and adults signed the copies and we presented one to Mr. Harkey. All of us also got a copy. As a goodbye, we sang the song to Mr. Harkey and shook his hand. He was such a kind old man.

        We headed back to the vans and got in. For the first time, we seemed reluctant to get on board for we knew that it was going to be our last ride as a group. It was truly a biter sweet moment. I do not think that any of us will forget our adventure on this mini-term, or the friends and memories we have made. I would like to give a special thanks to Mrs. Dot Doyle and all of the other adults that have shared their experiences and knowledge to help us in our search for Fish Dam Road, and chiefly to Mr. Liles for caring so much that he was willing to take on 23 teenagers for 2 weeks, and having the patience not to kill us all along the way. You all have been GREAT! I wish you the best.