RAILROAD HOUSE ASSOCIATION: Historical tour highlights notable Lee County sites
Anyone who wants to learn a little about Sanford can do so for free Sunday on a tour of three local historic sites hosted by the Railroad House Historical Association.
"It's just part of our history," said Rebekah Harvey, president of the association's board of directors. "That's what we do; we like to make the public aware of our history here. ... There's a wonderful history all in our area."
The tour begins at 2 p.m. at the Bridges Cabin, an antebellum log cabin built by James Bridges. Bridges was a Confederate infantryman who was captured during the Civil War but survived and later raised a family of six with his wife in the two-room log cabin located just north of Deep River Elementary School.
It has since been restored by his great-grandson, Tommy Bridges. According to the Railroad House, the home is notable because it was one of the last in the area built with logs instead of timbers, which came into vogue after the Civil War with the advance of steam technology in sawmills.
"This cabin is a carryover from earlier building traditions and a poignant reminder of the humble beginnings that have produced so many fine citizens across this state," tour director Edwin Patterson wrote in a flier for the Deep River Community Fall Tour.
Patterson said the Railroad House used to hold these kinds of tours yearly, although it has been a while since the last one. However, he's excited to get it started again, he said.
"What we've done in the past is pick a particular community and focus on the notable homes there. We've done Broadway, downtown Sanford — all sorts of places," Patterson said.
He said this Deep River-focused tour is thanks to the owners of these homes, which were picked for their variety: Two are grandiose while one, the Bridges Cabin, "is a great example of how families lived in meager circumstances back then."
After leaving the cabin, participants in the tour will drive to the Farrish-Lambeth House, a multi-story Greek Revival home that began as a one-story home in 1820 and has been added to throughout the years. The tour flier says its history of frequently changing hands also tells about various business ventures and prominent citizens in the area.
"The scale of the house is impressive and [Robert] Rives [a businessman who bought the house before his misfortunes in the 1850s], whose mother was from the prominent Alston family of Chatham County, was determined to make a statement with its construction," the flier states.
Finally, the group will visit the Obediah Farrar House, where the tour will wrap up with refreshments. The site is also known as the Barringer House — named after a Sanford family whose patriarch, Paul Barringer Sr., bought the property in the 1940s. Longtime Railroad House member Jane Barringer lives in the house, which also has some Greek Revival style but was mainly built after the style of an antebellum plantation, sitting on 300 acres of fertile ground near the Deep River across from the old town of Haywood.
"The site, although missing the outbuldings that would have been required to support a farmstead, remains in a beautiful setting," the guide states.
People from most parts of Lee County can get to the first stop, the Bridges Cabin, by taking U.S. 1 north and then exiting at Colon Road and taking a left, driving about a mile until the road ends at Deep River Road. Then they can take a right, go about two miles, and turn left on Log Cabin Lane just past the school.
Anyone who wants to learn more about Lee County history but can't make the tour can also visit the Railroad House Museum, located at 110 Charlotte Ave. next to Depot Park and right across from where Hawkins Avenue ends. It's open every Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. and contains a number of historical documents and images.