Saturday, February 09, 2008

Scouting Mission to Battle Park, Rocky Mount, NC

We had just a few hours to explore today, so we headed to Battle Park, a short, half-hour drive from where we now live. Rocky Mount is located off Highway 301, just south of Hwy 64, east of I-95, and about 60 miles east of downtown Raleigh. The Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce website states Rocky Mount is the halfway point between Florida and New York. I couldn't let a statement like that go unchallenged, so I pulled up Mappoint and placed pushpins at the northeast edge of Florida, the southern tip of New York, and Rocky Mount, and did some quick calculating. By George, they're right.

I found Battle Park while reading through The Official Travel Guide: North Carolina that we picked up in New Bern shortly after our arrival in this state. In addition to providing articles about various NC destinations, the guide breaks NC down by Mountains, Piedmont, and Coast, and lists activities for each city in those regions.

From the guide and from the Chamber website, I learned Battle Park is a 54-acre park situation along the Tar River near Rocky Mount Mills Historic Mill Village. Unfortunately, we didn't have much time to look around. But what I saw was enough to make me want to go back for more. Tall loblolly pines scattered along the ground sheltered a forest floor covered with pine straw and fallen pinecones. A gazebo, built near the river, overlooked what I think is an old mill, the still waters above the Falls of the Tar, and the boulders that all information claims are the source of the Rocky Mount's name. We stopped at an old cemetery at the rim of the park and examined the headstones stretched across a slightly sloping hill. The park is reportedly the original site of the city of Rocky Mount, and the old Post Office is somewhere in the vicinity.

But how did Battle Park earn its name? I assume it's derived from one of the battles fought in this section of the state, a supposition that seemed to be confirmed by the existence of a tall marble monument commemorating Confederate soldiers, which stands near the entrance to the park. I'll have to stop by the local library on our next visit. I'm also interested in the history of the Tar River, such as the source of its name and its role in the wars fought near its banks, and the names of the wildflowers that grow in that area.

Directions to Battle Park are somewhat confusing. We traveled north on 301, then headed south on 48-43. The park is a mile or so down the road on the left. However, the road divides shortly before the turnoff. We had to turn around a block or so past the area where we thought the park was located and then drive north to reach it.


To see my notes from our return trip to Battle Park, go to carolinatrails.blogspot.com/2008/02/battle-park-part-ii.html

For more information on Rocky Mount, go to www.rockymountchamber.org/recreation.html

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kimberli

I'm a Rocky Mount native and enjoyed your post. I don't think Battle Park has anything to do with a battle. The attack on Rocky Mount that you link to was an attack on Rocky Mount, S.C.; not Rocky Mount,N.C. Although Cornwallis did come through here on the way to Yorktown, I never heard of any battle here in any war. The yankees did burn the mill and the bridge during the War of Northern Aggression, but all our men were in Northern Virginia so there was no one for the yankees to have a battle with. I have always assumed Battle Park was named after the Battle family that founded the Mill there at the park. You need to come to Battle Park on a warm day in the spring when you can walk all the way across the river by jumping from rock to rock and the azaleas and dogwoods are in full bloom; or on a fall day when the leaves are brilliant.

Kimberli said...

Thank you for stopping by, and for the correction. I'll fix the link.

You are correct about Battle Park having been named after the Battle family. I did a bit of subsequent research and found the links. If I haven't posted those in this blog, I'll do so immediately.

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