We are defined by those parts of the earth that we haven’t changed.
February 3, 2009 11:58 AM   Subscribe

The New Road. A photo essay by Rob Amberg on the building of I-26 through Madison County in the mountains of North Carolina. via
posted by 1f2frfbf (10 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Needs more bridges.
posted by ooga_booga at 12:01 PM on February 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

This one just begs for more of an explanation.
posted by ooga_booga at 12:03 PM on February 3, 2009

This really struck me:

When the Little Ivy Church Cemetery was being moved, family members gathered at the site every day. They wanted to “witness” and be assured this difficult task was handled with care and respect. The probing, digging, removal, and in the case of wooden caskets, the ritual placing of remains in a new box, was done by Native Americans, Lumbee men from Eastern North Carolina. The families didn’t know these workers, probably didn’t know any Native Americans. But they knew of the Native reverence for their own ancestors, their belief in the spirit world, and because of that they trusted these men with their loved ones, and with their memories.
posted by Forktine at 12:14 PM on February 3, 2009

How horribly depressing.
The pictures are nice, though. It's a shame they're not bigger.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:17 PM on February 3, 2009

Progress marches onward. I wonder if the sentiment was the same in other rural parts of the country when the bulk of the interstate road system was being built.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 12:40 PM on February 3, 2009

PedantFilter: You don't spray water on concrete to "keep it from curing too fast." You spray water on it to keep it from drying out before it can cure. Concrete cures by a chemical reaction between portland cement and water, and without water the reaction doesn't run to completion, the concrete doesn't achieve its design strength, and even worse things happen than what are documented in these photos.
posted by localroger at 12:46 PM on February 3, 2009

There's a decent AP story from November 14th, 1998. An excerpt:
The last nine miles involves moving 35 million cubic yards of dirt and rock, says Stan Hyatt, the state Transportation Department's resident engineer. How much is that? If spread on a football field, 1 million cubic yards would rise 560 feet, Hyatt says. So, 35 million would stand 19,600 feet, or 3.7 miles, tall. The main project is a six-mile section where crews of up to 125 work during the day and 75 at night, operating drilling rigs, water wagons, dump trucks, articulated trucks, track hoes, motor graders, frontend loaders and generators for lights. One machine is the largest piece of equipment Caterpillar makes: a $3 million shovel with a bucket that scoops 26 cubic yards of debris at a time, about the size of a small bedroom. Details like this excite Wallin. He discusses the construction as a child might an amusement park ride. "Lookee!" he says as the massive load dumped by a truck seems to teeter, undecided whether to fall toward its designated spot or Wallin's yard.

There was one morning when, as he ate breakfast, a dump truck full of gravel flipped over four times. The driver survived. And the noise? Wallin copes sometimes by turning down his hearing aid. He sums up: "There isn't any point of being upset or negative to it. Like I told some of the neighbors, you can't fight this thing." Besides, he says, the road represents a promise of tourism and other industry. Mars Hill now has a couple of fast-food restaurants and its first chain hotel. "It's not ever going to be like it was," he says, waving his hand as if wiping away the past. For Buckner, however, losing the past is not something to wave away. Pavement isn't grass, cars aren't trees, and once the blacktop replaces mountains, life won't be as good. On a recent morning one drill was working, and Buckner, a soft-spoken man, had to speak loudly to be heard by someone sitting next to him on his porch. Some days, four to five drills work at once, and in the afternoon, dynamite blasts break up the rock.

The completion date is 2002. "I've got to listen to this until then," he says. A seismograph sits in Buckner's backyard near his five apple and two pear trees, just up a hill from his 45 head of cattle. One blast created a rock slide, and the brand-new house of his daughter and son-in-law already has hairline fractures in the foundation. The house is new because the highway right of way swallowed up Dale and Luretha Fluty's 10 acres, with their home, their woodworking business, several barns and outbuildings. The state paid them $339,400 for it all, but they, too, say the money cannot replace what was lost. They thought about moving and even found one place that they seriously considered. "But in the end, we just didn't feel like we could leave," says Dale Fluty. Adds Luretha: "Our roots are pretty deep." Theirs was one of about 40 households uprooted. Three cemeteries were moved. One church, Ivy Baptist, was relocated. Buckner, who moved to this valley at age 5 with his parents and six siblings, first lived in a poplar log house. "We moved in October, and the snow blew in through the cracks," he says. "By the next winter, Dad had fixed it up better." His brothers and sisters are scattered across the country now - Arizona, Alabama, West Virginia and elsewhere. "I'm the only one that cared anything about this mountain," he says.
There are some pictures associated with the story, but they don't show up in the AP photos db. But anyway, Luretha Fluty. Best name ever.
posted by cashman at 12:48 PM on February 3, 2009

Thanks. I lived in this area when this road was being built. I lived in Hot Springs NC, and frequently drove through the mountains to Erwin TN. I would also drive from Erwin to Asheville. The roads were very slow and remote. When 26 opened it was as if there was actually a road where there had been none. It was a very strange feeling, and it cut up the land in weird ways...whole little communities became even more cut-off than they had been very quickly.
posted by OmieWise at 5:59 PM on February 3, 2009

The missus used to work at a nursing home right next to the Ivy Church. The family that owned the nursing home stopped maintaining the building in the belief that NCDOT would need to tear it down as well and would pay them handsomely for it. During this time an elderly driver punched a major hole through the side of the building- the owners just moved the affected residents to different rooms and for months simply hung a tarp to keep the weather out. They did not want to put so much of a penny into fixing anything.

It turned out that the nursing home was just outside the zone that they needed to take to build the new interstate- last I heard it's still a going concern.

They did build the congregation at Ivy Church an opulent new sanctuary just on the other side of the highway.
posted by squalor at 6:11 PM on February 3, 2009

Great post. Even folks here in Asheville don't know that whole history.
posted by moonbird at 7:40 AM on February 4, 2009

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