Trading Ford Area Historic Timeline

The Trading Ford on the Yadkin


The earliest "interstate" through Piedmont North Carolina was the Trading Path from Fort Henry (Petersburg, Va.) to the Catawbas and Waxhaws, so named because it was used by early Europeans who traded with the Native Americans. Its crossings at the Yadkin River were called the Trading Fords. The earliest, the Indian or Old Trading Ford, crossed the Big Island, .8 mile below where Interstate 85 passes over the Yadkin River between Salisbury/Spencer and Lexington, NC. The colonial ferry at the Trading Ford crossed just at the downriver (eastern) tip of the Big Island. The Yadkin could also be forded when the river was low. These two fords and the roads leading to them, together with other nearby fords and ferries, formed a network of early transportation routes, with the Trading Ford and Trading Path as its backbone.

Trading Ford Area Timeline

9500 BC: Native American habitation in the Trading Ford area documented

1567-1568: Spanish soldiers under Juan Pardo briefly colonized the area and built Fort Santiago in the Native American Guatari village

1670: Explorer John Lederer recorded a visit to Saura Indians at the Trading Ford

1674: John Needham reputed to have been murdered at the Trading Ford by his companion Indian John

1701: John Lawson recorded a description of the Trading Ford and the Sapona settlement there in his “Journey of a Thousand Miles”

1740s: Jersey Settlement colonized on the northern side of the Trading Ford

1753: Rowan county formed from part of Anson county

1755: Salisbury established as county seat on the Trading Path, six miles from the Trading Ford

1755: Hugh McAden, an itinerant preacher, visited the Yadkin Ford, just east of I-85, one of a network of fords and ferries in the Trading Ford area

1757: Archibald Craige was granted permission to keep a public ferry at the Trading Ford

1763: Road built from Bethabara (present Winston-Salem) to the Yadkin Ford

1769: Legislative act established a public ferry at the Trading Ford, and prohibited other ferries within 4 miles for the next decade

1771: War of the Regulation. Gen. Hugh Waddell stopped by a large group of Regulators on the north side of the Yadkin River.

1780: Revolutionary War. Yadkin Ford ferry documented in military correspondence. Two camps established at the Yadkin Ford.

1781: Revolutionary War. General Nathanael Greene's Crossing at the Trading Ford. Major contributing site included in the “Race to the Dan River”, given highest national significance by the National Park Service in 2008.

1803: Louisiana Purchase. Mail route from Washington, DC to New Orleans crossed the Yadkin at the Trading Ford

1818: Louis Beard hired Ithiel Town to build the first bridge over the Yadkin, and North Carolina's first covered bridge.

1822: Davidson county formed from part of Rowan county

1855: First railroad bridge built over the Yadkin

1865: War Between the States. Confederates successfully defended the rail bridge and won their last victory in North Carolina. Battlefield listed as one of the nation's 25 most endangered by the Civil War Preservation Trust in 2008 and 2009.

1890: Rail bridge failed, and was quickly replaced

1899: Camel-back steel truss Piedmont Toll Bridge built upon original Beard Bridge stone piers

1906: New Warren truss rail bridge built beside original bridge location

1919: Warren truss bridge to accommodate 2nd rail track built upon original granite piers and abutments

1922: Open-spandrel Wil-Cox Bridge (southbound US 29) became first free bridge, ending the use of the toll bridge, fords and ferries. Davidson County has made a commitment to preserve NC's longest open-spandrel bridge.

1929:  Trading Ford Monument dedicated

1951: Northbound US 29 bridge built

1957: I-85 bridge built

Areas including the Beard Bridge site, both US 29 bridges, both rail bridges, a 0.8 mile section of the Trading Path, Fort York/Camp Yadkin, and the Big Island have been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

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