by Jonathan Scott | Photography by Katherine Clark
When Rockingham’s Pee Dee #1 Textile Mill went into operation in 1875, it was powered by water flowing over a dam in Hitchcock Creek. More than 70 years later, the dam broke, leaving a sprawling, overgrown lakebed.
The mill no longer needed the water, but it was dependent on North Carolina’s textile industry. That, like the dam, eventually gave way. The mill shut down in the late 1980s, leaving forlorn ruins and a degraded creek, cluttered with debris.
Since 2006, the City of Rockingham has been working in partnership with an impressive list of organizations and individuals to acquire and improve land around the old dam and mill. They restored Hitchcock Creek to its pristine state, put in miles of greenway trails and established a public access area located off Steele Street.
Today, the area has become a favorite of paddlers from all over the region as well as locals who come to jog, walk or simply be immersed in the exquisite natural beauty.