Blowing Rock History: Yadkin River Headwaters Brought to the Fore by Highway Construction

Blowing Rock History: Yadkin River Headwaters Brought to the Fore by Highway Construction
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This photograph of the old headwaters “spring house” was taken from “Postcards of Historic Blowing Rock”. In the background is the house currently owned by Oval & Priscilla Jaynes

By David Rogers. June 18, 2015. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Rumors around town on Thursday that NCDOT, Maymead and Vecillio & Grogan highway construction workers had discovered the headwaters of the Yadkin/Pee Dee River at the intersection of Green Hill Rd. and U.S. 321 turned out to be only partly true: they only UNcovered a culvert receiving the spring, which is actually some 25 feet away — and of course has been known for years to be the jumpstart for the mighty Yadkin.

COVER IMAGE: This is about as close as modern day folks can get to seeing the headwaters of the Yadkin River. The actual spring is some 25-feet to the north, marked by a manhole cover, from where this pipe empties into a stormwater culvert that funnels the headwaters under Green Hill Rd. on their way to the Atlantic Ocean. Modern photographic images are by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News. The photos of the old “Spring House” are from “Postcards of Historic Blowing Rock”, first printed in 2002 by the Blowing Rock Historical Society.

“The location of the headwaters spring for the Yadkin River has been known for a very long time,” longtime resident Oval Jaynes noted to Blowing Rock News Thursday afternoon. Jaynes lives across Green Hill Rd. from the Green Park Inn in an historic house that is the last of what used to be cottages built around the the old hotel, which dates back to before the turn of the 20th century. “Since way before any of us living in Blowing Rock now have been here.”

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The manhole cover in the left foreground of this photographic image is the approximate spot of the true headwaters, now underground and piped into a parking lot culvert some 25 feet to the south (right). That is Oval & Priscilla Jayne’s house in the background, across Green Hill Rd.

“A very long time ago,” Jaynes said from his front porch about the headwater’s history, “right across the street, over there, was the spring house for the headwaters. Everyone from around these parts would come and get their water.  It doesn’t matter what time of year it is or whether there is snow and ice on the ground, that spring runs about the same rate all year ’round.”

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Here’s the Yadkin River, just after it has crossed under Green Hill Rd. through a culvert.

“All we did,” laughed a Vecillio & Grogan workman who happened by the site as Blowing Rock News was talking to Jaynes, “is take the grate off of the old culvert, dig out the old culvert and put in a new culvert — right where the old one was.”

Mr. Jaynes, whose family was originally from Morganton but his family has owned their current house since the 70s, took Blowing Rock News on a brief “tour” of the headwaters site, pointing out the manhole cover over the actual spring location, as well as pointing to the end of about a 25-foot long pipe carrying the spring water to the bottom of the culvert.

“That culvert has had a grate over the top of it,” Jaynes said, “here at the lowest point in the Green Park Inn parking lot.  The spring water gets fed into the culvert, but most of the stormwater from the Green Park parking area goes down there, too. So when it rains, the water coming out of the culvert on the other side of Green Hill Rd, between our house and the highway, runs a little faster because of the storm water, but the headwaters spring runs about the same all year ’round.”

Mr. Jaynes is the former athletic director at Colorado State, Pittsburgh, Idaho, and Jacksonville State universities, and the de facto athletic director at Auburn University when the head football coach and “official” athletic director was Hall of Famer, Pat Dye.

“Now we’ve been coming to or living in Blowing Rock since I was a kid,” Jaynes told Blowing Rock News. “But one of the first things that I did wherever I landed as athletic director was go to the public library and learn a good bit about the history and geography of the local area. If you are going to be a part of the community, you need to understand that history because it puts the circumstances of a current community into perspective.”

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