Bladen, Cumberland, Harnett, Johnston and Robeson

ravelers cruising through North Carolina’s southern piedmont on I-95 might not realize that they are traversing a region of flourishing farmlands. In fact, this gentle undulating countryside is considered by many to be the agricultural heartland of the state. Farm hamlets here often sprung up where two rural roads intersected. These crossroad communities still exist, often just a few miles off the interstate. 

Farms on this trail produce some of the world's finest strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, tomatoes, corn, peppers, cantaloupes, melons, and squash. Visitors can shop for these fruits and vegetables at a multitude of farms, produce stands and farmers markets found in all five counties. Farmers here are also famous for their skill at curing hams. Stop in a ham shop and take home smoked, honey glazed, and even wine glazed products.

If agricultural history is of interest, you will note that this is one of the South’s top tobacco producing regions. It’s been that way for many generations and the history and traditions associated with this industry are presented at sites like the Tobacco Farmlife Museum in Johnston County.

This trail encompasses some of the most ethnically diverse communities in the Southeast. Beginning in the 1730's, Scottish Highlanders and Irish settled along the beautiful Cape Fear and Lumber rivers. Both freed blacks and runaway slaves also lived here. Before that, Native peoples inhabited the territory and the Lumbee, Tuscarora, and Waccamaw Siouan tribes still call this area home. Attend the outdoor drama, Strike at the Wind, to learn the story of Henry Berry Lowrie, a Lumbee who sought justice for Indian people after the Civil War.

Although the predominant character of the region is rural, urban areas are also important transportation and cultural crossroads.  In the state’s early history, the town of Fayetteville served as an inland port, the hub of a major plank road, and North Carolina’s first capital. During the Civil War, Fayetteville housed an important arsenal that drew Union General, William T. Sherman, to North Carolina.  Fort Bragg, the largest military installation in the world, began in 1918 and has trained military personnel from across the nation and world. Take in the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, which tells the history of the Army’s elite forces from WWII to today through Smithsonian-quality exhibits.

Today, places like Fayetteville and Smithfield embrace a diverse mixture of cultures and traditions. Enjoy an impressive array of offerings from artists’ studios, museums and galleries, regional theater, and performance venues presenting music and dance. 

Outdoor enthusiasts should experience Raven Rock high above the Cape Fear River or the nine distinctive natural areas found at Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center. Plan your own itinerary by using the map and drop down list of towns at the right, or the category buttons at the left.



Scenic Byways
Photo Credits:

Painting of Tobacco Harvest by Doug Strickland
Native American Art - The Museum of the Native American Resource Center
Peach photo by Bill Russ
Walnut carving by Bernice Locklear - The Museum of the Native American Resource Center
Hickory Community Theatre





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