Cobblestones and Trolley Tracks exposed in Downtown Durham

By , August 22, 2010

Exposed cobblestones and Trolley tracks on Mangum St, in front of City Hall, downtown Durham. Photograph taken 21 August, 2010 and is copyright Ginger R. Smith, 2010

A few weeks ago, I came across this post on the Endangered Durham blog about some cobblestone and trolley tracks that were exposed on Kent Street in Durham during a repaving project. I made plans to drive around until I found them before they were paved over. I never did accomplish this. However, a couple of weeks ago, we were driving through downtown Durham on the motorcycle and my partner pointed out to me the exposed cobblestone and trolley tracks on Mangum Street in front of City Hall. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I told her we definitely had to come back and photograph it before they completed the repaving project.

Yesterday we managed to photograph the exposed cobblestone and trolley tracks. It wasn’t an easy feat because this is actually a heavily traveled road. Luckily my photographer is great with lighting and centering and took a great picture on the first try. I’m not sure what the passerby’s thought of my standing in the middle of the road.

Back to the photo….

Notice how the cobblestones on the left of the picture are laid kind of diagonally but the ones under my feet are laid in a straight line. We were curious to know why this was. Was there originally some kind of aesthetic pattern in the road? Gary actually created a map of the trolley line as it originally went through Durham in the early 1920s here.

I had first heard of this in Raleigh in front of NC State University on Hillsboro Street. There was a big discussion about whether the City was going to rip the tracks up or leave them down and “rebury” them again with the new paving project. They seem to be able to remain intact whilst buried, and I think it’s a very cool sight to see when its uncovered! I’m glad we were able to get a glimpse of this part of Durham’s history!

Cobblestone Mangum 082110

Exposed cobblestones and Trolley tracks on Mangum St, in front of City Hall, downtown Durham. Photograph taken 21 August, 2010 and is copyright Ginger R. Smith, 2010.

This picture was taken a little further up the block. These cobblestones all seem to be going diagonally. The trolley track is on the left hand side of the picture.

How about in your area? Have you noticed any exposed cobblestones or trolley tracks during your City’s repaving projects?

2 Responses to “Cobblestones and Trolley Tracks exposed in Downtown Durham”

  1. Taneya says:

    how cool is that!!!

  2. Bill Huthings says:

    My mother grew up on the corner of Chapel Hill Rd and House Ave. That is between Kent St and Lakewood Shopping Center. She used to talk about the trolley running in front of the house and ending at Lakewood Park. I also remember Frank Ward talking about the workers at Ward Dairy (where TROSA is now) riding the trolley to the end of the line and walking the rest of the way to work.

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