by Jonathan Scott | Photography by Diana Matthews

moss-horses-0345William Ozelle “Pappy” Moss and Virginia Walthour “Ginnie”  Moss arrived in Southern Pines in 1928.  They ran a livery stable that was located at the corner of Broad Street and Connecticut Avenue. In 1942 they took over the Moore County Hounds, a local fox hunt started by James and Jackson Boyd in 1914.

moss-horses-0427By the early 1970s, Pappy and Ginnie decided to do whatever they could to preserve the picturesque land the local equestrian community loved, establishing a charitable trust named the Walthour-Moss Foundation. In 1978, after Pappy’s death, his estate donated 1,739 acres to become the first land permanently preserved by the foundation.

Over the years, up to her death in 2006, Ginnie donated nearly 900 more acres—land that might have fallen to commercial development. With the generosity of other members of the community, who donated both land and the resources to purchase more, The Walthour-Moss Foundation land now is proud to contain 4,167 acres.

The land is open for various uses but, according to Director Landon Russell, it is the only nature preserve dedicated to equestrian usages and enjoyed by riders from across the region like Sarah McMerty, left, and Joanie Bowden. Access to the acreage is located off U.S. 1 North and May Street in Southern Pines.

With an increasing amount of development in the area, the foundation’s protection of natural areas has become more valuable through the years.

Walthour-Moss Foundation land  is also home to many endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers, who live in cavities they make in longleaf pines.

The foundation includes pines that still show marks made from harvesting turpentine during the late 19th century. The turpentine industry was so widespread it gave North Carolina its nickname as the “Tar Heel State.”

For more information on the Walthour-Moss Foundation, call 910-695-7811 or visit