11 November 2007

Trouble at Buckhorn (1906-1908)

[Photographs of the Buckhorn Dam site by the Rabbit. Satellite image of Buckhorn Dam via Google.]

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Chatham RECORD, 1906 JAN 25, "Local Records":

A gasolene launch has been put on the Cape Fear river and runs between Buckhorne and Lockville, a distance of about twelve miles. Since the completion of the dam at Buckhorne the water in the river between that point and Lockville is deep enough to float almost any kind of a steam boat.

Chatham RECORD, 1906 JUN 21, "Receivers for Cape Fear Power Co.":

From the Raleigh News and Observer, 15th [inst?].

In the United States Circuit court yesterday the Schenectady Trust Company, of Schenectady, N. York, filed a bill for foreclosure of the mortgage given by the Cape Fear Power Company, organized for the purpose of developing water power at Buckhorne Shoals in Chatham county, a few miles below Moncure, for the purpose of furnishing electric power to Fayetteville and other towns. The mortgage was made in 1903 to secure an issue of $350,000 of first mortgage bonds and the foreclosure is sought to be made on account of default in the payment of the April, 1905, October, 1905, and April, 1906, coupons amounting in the aggregate to $31,000.

Judge Purnell appointed as temporary receivers under a bond of $10,000 Messrs. Charles H. Belvin and E. Maxwell, who are directed to take immediate charge of the property and the defendant is notified to show cause on the 29th instant why their appointment should not be made permanent.

The Cape Fear Power Company is owned principally by Messrs. W.T. Morgan, of Fayetteville, and R. Percy Gray, of Greensboro, and purchased the water power at Buckhorne Shoals from the Deep River Manufacturing Company, the estate of the late Col. Heck and the Lobdell Company, of Wilmington, Delaware. It acquired a right of way from Buckhorne to Fayetteville a few years ago and built and equipped the line necessary for the transmission of power to that city. For some years it has been engaged in the construction of a dam across the Cape Fear and in building a power house at the site of the plant. It purchased large amounts of electrical machinery which has been delivered, but the most of which was never installed, being stored alongside the railroad tracks at Moncure awaiting the completion of the power house.

In view of the fact that the General Electrical Company is so largely interested in the bonds, it is hoped that it will either buy the property itself or form a new corporation to do so and complete the development of the power with a view of transmitting the same to Fayetteville and Raleigh and other cities.

Chatham RECORD, 1906 AUG 16, excerpted from "Superior Court.":
On the appearance docket are twenty-two cases against the Cape Fear Power Co. brought by some of the lands owners on the river between Lockville and the Buckhorne dam, because of the new dam backing water on their land. By an order of Judge Purnell all these cases are to be transferred to the Federal court at Raleigh for trial, as the Cape Fear Power Company is now in the charge of two receivers appointed by Judge Purnell.

Chatham RECORD, 1906 AUG 30, excerpted from the notice "Sale of Valuable Water Power and Electrical Plant.":

Under and by virture of an order of the United States Circuit Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Fourth Circuit, in the cause therein pending entitled Schenectady Trust Company against Cape Fear Power Company, dated the 23rd day of August, 1906, at 12 o'clock noon, at the door of the Court House of Chatham County at Pittsboro, N.C., expose to sale to the highest bidder at public auction, upon the terms hereinafter set forth, the property of the said Cape Fear Power Company, situated in Chatham, Harnett, Moore and Cumberland Counties, and described as follows, to-wit:



Aug. 28, 1906

Chatham RECORD, 1906 SEP 6, "Dam A Nuisance.":

There is said to be an epidemic of chills and fever in Cape Fear township among the people residing on and near the Cape Fear river, between Lockville and the Buckhorne dam. This sickness is said to be caused by the backwater from the new dam of the Cape Fear Power Company, which has overflowed many thousand acres along the river banks. Such sickness was predicted and feared by the people of that section when the dam was being constructed, and their fears are now being realized.

Mr. Merrimon Harrington has sold his farm on the river and moved to Wake county, because of the sickness caused in his family by this backwater, and we hear that other citizens of that section are trying to sell out and move away. It is probable that the grand jury, at our November court, will be asked to indict the owners of the dam and have it torn down as a public nuisance.

Chatham RECORD, 1906 OCT 6, "Important Sale.":

In pursuance of the notice heretofore published in THE RECORD the receivers of the Cape Fear Power Company sold at public auction at this place, on last Saturday, all the property and rights of that company. The first bid was made by Mr. J.B. Blades, a wealthy lumber dealer from the eastern part of this State, who started the bidding at $120,000. The next bid was $125,000 by Mr. Henry F. Schaffner, of Winston-Salem. Mr. Blades then bid $130,000, whereupon Mr. S.D. Mitchell, a prominent electrician of New York, bid $250,000 in behalf of the bondholders and there being no higher bid the property was knocked down at this bid.

The property had been bonded to the amount of $350,000, so that it did not bring the amount due the bondholders. Not only do the bondholders lose heavily, but also the stockholders of the company who were the promoters of the undertaking have lost all that they invested in it. The company was organized several years ago for the purpose of constructing a dam across the Cape Fear river near Buckhorne falls (about twelve miles below Lockville) for the purpose of transmitting electric power to the cotton mills at Fayetteville, Sanford and other places. The dam was at last completed last winter, after many delays, but the electric power has not yet been developed, and it may cost $50,000 more to develop it.

This was the second most important sale ever held in this county. The most important sale before this was the sale of the property and rights of the old Cape Fear and Deep River Navigation Company, on the 26th of August, 1859, under a mortgage or deed of trust to the State of North Carolina to secure a loan of $300,000 made by the State to the company. The State became the purchaser at that sale through Gov. Ellis.

Chatham RECORD, 1907 JAN 24, "Local Records":
After an argument before Judge Purnell at Raleigh, on last Saturday, he refused a motion by the plaintiffs to remand to our superior court the damage suits brought against the Cape Fear Power Company by more than twenty landowners in this county, whose land is damaged by back-water caused by the big dam across Cape Fear river. Several of the suits have been compromised.

Chatham RECORD, 1907 MAR 28, "Buckhorne Electric Power.":
Special to the Charlotte Observer. Fayetteville, March 24. -- Mr. E.J. Maxwell, superintendent of the Cape Fear Electric Power Company, with an immense plant at Buckhorne Falls, was in town yesterday. He confidently states that he will have 3.500 or 4,000-horse power flashed by electric transmission to the industrial plants of Fayetteville by the 1st of next June. This is a "consummantion devoutly to be wished," but, to be plain, there has been so much "hope deferred" here about the Cape Fear company that we will wait and see it.

Chatham RECORD, 1907 APR 25, "FOUR MEN DROWNED":
Swept Over Buckhorne Dam.

Four men were drowned, on last Tuesday, at the Buckhorne dam in the Cape Fear river.

They were Capt. Thorson, the foreman of the works at Buckhorne, Mr. Emory A. Brady and two colored men, one name George Champion and the other Henry Lashley.

They and a colored man, named Joe Andrews, were in a gasolene boat that was in the river above the dam, carrying some lumber across the river, when the machinery got out of fix, or for some cause the boat got beyond control and began drifting with the strong current towards the dam. All efforts to stop the boat were in vain, and with accelerated motion it swept to the dam and plunged over, dashing the five men into the seething waters below.

Only one of them, Joe Andrews, escaped a watery grave. He was able to swim ashore, but the other four were drowned, and their bodies were swept down the river and may not be found for many days, if ever.

Capt. Thorson was a stranger who had been at Buckhorne only a few months. Mr. Brady was born and reared near Haywood, in this county, and had been empoyed for two or three years by the company building the dam. He was a son of Capt. Brady, who was the captain of the old steam boat that used to belong to the Cape Fear & Deep River Navigation Company.

This dam at Buckhorne was completed last year by the Cape Fear Power Company and its construction was so costly as to bankrupt that company, which went into the hands of receivers last summer by whom its property was all sold last fall. Its present owners will soon be able to utilize and transmit the electric power generated there to Fayetteville and other places.

Chatham RECORD, 1907 MAY 9, "Local Records":

On Monday morning about 70 feet of the dam of the Cape Fear Power Company at Buckhorne Falls was washed away. It will be replaced at once by concrete work, the part washed out being made of dirt.

Chatham RECORD, 1907 MAY 9, "Local Records":
The bodies of all four of the men, who were drowned at the Buckhorne dam, have been found and decently buried. They were found in the river near the place of the accident.

Chatham RECORD, 1907 MAY 23, "Local Records":
The recent breaking of the big Buckhorne dam on the Cape Fear river has greatly reduced the quantity of water in the river between Buckhorne and Lockville, in this county. The water is now so low in that part of the river that the gasolene boat can not run, as heretofore, between Buckhorne and Lockville.

Chatham RECORD, 1907 JUN 20, "Local Records":
There will be a Fourth of July celebration at the bridge across Buckhorne creek near the big dam across the Cape Fear river, in this county. In addition to speeches there will be all sorts of games and contests of an amusing character, and at night there will be a display of fireworks.

Chatham RECORD, 1907 SEP 5, "Fatal Flash":
During the storm last Tuesday a flash of lightning struck the cementhouse of the Cape Fear Power Company at Buchhorne dam and instantly killed 7 men and stunned 25 others. This was the most fatal flash of lightning that we ever before heard of in this county. The same storm reached this place and extended over most of this county, and it was not only an unusually violent electric storm but it was an unusually heavy fall of rain. The government rain-gauge, kept here by Mr. B. Nooe, showed a rain-fall of two inches and thirty hundreths of an inch. A feed trough of Mr. T.M. Bland, near here, was filled to the depth of three and a half inches by the rain. The heavy rain was accompanied with heavy crashes of thunder and blinding flashes of lightning. A tree was struck in the yard of John L. Council, of this place, and the shock shattered 42 panes of glass in the windows of his dwelling. A rain was greatly needed, the crops were suffering very much and the streams were all very low, but this storm rather over-did the thing.

Chatham RECORD, 1907 SEP 12, "Catastrophe at Buckhorne":

Later news from the fatal flash of lightning at Buckhorne does not decrease its horrors. As was published in last week's RECORD, a flash of lightning instantly killed seven men in the cement house of the Cape Fear Power Company. The lightning struck a tall poplar tree in a few feet of the cement house, in which the men had sought refuge from the rain, and then went through the roof of the building and did its fatal work.

There were twenty-one men in the building, seven were badly shocked and seven escaped injury. A horse was also in the building and it was not hurt, but was frantic with fright. One of the injured men was thought ot be fatally hurt, but is till alive. This terrible accident so demoralized the other men at work at Buckhorne that about one-half of them quit work and left there. Of course there is no more danger from lightning there than anywhere else, and there is an old saying that "lightning never strikes twice in the same place". It is said that about twenty men have lost their lives by accidents at this place since work was begun on the big dam several years ago. It will be remembered that a few months ago four men were carried over the dam in a boat and were drowned.

About fifty feet of the dam was washed away next day after the men were killed by lightning, which will delay for some time longer the completion of this important (and we may add unlucky) enterprise.

Chatham RECORD, 1907 SEP 12, "Local Records":
On last Thursday there were two peculiarly sad funerals at Zion Christian Church in Oakland township. They were the funerals Messrs. Eugene Black and Carlton Gunter, then young men of that neighborhood who were killed by lightning at the Buckhorne dam. They were popular young men, whose sudden and untimely deaths were a shock to all their friends.

Chatham RECORD, 1907 OCT 24, "Local Records":
The break in the dam a [sic] Buckhorne, which occurred several months ago, has at last been repaired and the electrical machinery is being conveyed down the river from Moncure and installed. It required five days for the river to fill up after the dam was repaired, the water being backed some distance up Haw and Deep rivers whose confluence form the Cape Fear nearly ten miles above the dam.

Chatham RECORD, 1908 JAN 8, "Water Power":
The great work of developing the water power at Buckhorne on Cape Fear River, in this county, is about completed and last week the electric power generated there was transmitted to Fayetteville for the first time. This work has been in progress several years and nearly half a million dollars have been expended on it. It is hoped that the valuable water power at Lockville, ten miles above Buckhorne, may be developed and utilized at no distant day. This power can be developed much cheaper than than [sic] at Buckhorne and is at present running idle and of no value to anybody. This property, which includes 2500 acres of land, is now owned by the Lockville N.C. Power Corporation most of whose stockholders reside at Richmond, Virginia.

Chatham RECORD, 1908 MAR 25, "Visit to Bucknorne Falls":

On Tuesday of last week the editor of THE RECORD, being one of a small party from this place, visited for the first time the electric power plant recently erected at Buckhorne Falls on the Cape Fear river in this county by the Cape Fear Power Company, now called the Central Carolina Power Company, and which was put in operation the 3rd of this month.

We were met at Moncure by "Commodore" M.T. Sturgeon in one of the company's gasoline launches and after a delightful ride of an hour were landed safely at the big 1200-foot concrete dam, from which point a walk of a mile brought us to the power-house. Here we were taken in charge by Mr. C.P. Stewart, the efficient superintendent, who courteously showed us over the plant, explaining the details of the mechanism, etc. In the equipment, all of which is of the latest pattern, are three alternating current generators each capable of generating 2300 volts of electricity, two exciters, one of which furnishes electric lights for the plant and premises at night, a continuous motor pump making 1700 revolutions a minute, and electric transformers carrying 60,000 electric volts.

The amount of power now available is [1,600?] horse power, although only 800 horse power is at present used, this being supplied to two cotton mills at Fayetteville 34 miles distant. In a few days a line will be surveyed to Raleigh, 26 miles away, looking toward furnishing that city with electric power and arrangements have already been made by industrial plants at Sanford to take a considerable quantity of the power.

An interesting feature in connection with this plant, and in fact all like plants, is that while its erection required the labor of several hundred men for months, yes years, the work having gotten started over five years ago, yet the services of only half a dozen men are required to operate it.

This electric power plant, which represents an expenditure from first to last of nearly half a million dollars, is by far the largest industrial concern in our county and we wish for it and its energetic general manager, Mr. Eugene Maxwell, through whose courtesy we are indebted for this enjoyable trip, the largest measure of success possible. The dam is 1200 feet long, 12 feet wide at the base and 14 feet high and is made of concrete. It is a few feet below the site of the old dam built before the war by the old Cape Fear & Deep River Navigation Company, and is eight miles below the railroad bridge at Moncure.

The trip from Moncure down the river to the dam was delightful, and was a [?] experience in this county. The river varies in depth from Moncure to the dam from ten feet to thirty feet and is a beautiful sheet of water, being over twice the width of the Cape Fear at Fayetteville. Two miles below Moncure is the "point," the confluence of the Deep and Haw rivers, where the Cape Fear River begins. At this point each of the two rivers seems to be about the same width. Two miles below the confluence of the Deep and Haw rivers is McKay's Island, half a mile long and containing about 65 acres. Two miles below that is Avent's ferry which has been in use ever since the county was organized in 1771 and has always since borne the same name. The ride down the river was made in less than an hour, and a more delightful spring day could not have been selected. The air was balmy, the water as smooth and calm as a mill pond and with a whirr the gasoline launch churned through the water, leaving rolling waves in its wake. The banks of the river were low and the country on each side quite level until the dam was reached, where the high hills arose abruptly on each side of the river, and the entire landscape was changed.

Chatham RECORD, 1908 AUG 12, "Local Records":
Quite a number of young people went form here last Wednesday to Buckhorn Falls on a picnic launch party and spent a most enjoyable day, thanks to the many courtesies extended them by Superintendent C.P. Stewart and Captain Eagle. Those composing the party were the following: Misses Alice Bynum, Elsie Williams, Betsey London, Mamie Elliot, of Linden, Jessie Crosswell, of Fayetteville, Josephine Boylan, of Raleigh, Annie Plummer Nicholson, of Washington, and Katherine Hawkins, of Jacksonville, Fla., and Messrs. Paul J. Barringer, H.M. London, F.W. Bynum, Jesse Milliken, Walter Jerome, Bennett Nooe, Isaac London and B.B. Pope, of Weldon.

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