Weird Things by the Eno River

by Mark Miles

In July, I took my first trip to Eno River State Park. I arrived at the Pleasant Green entrance, got out of my car, and was momentarily disoriented by the lack of any navigable path. I wandered somewhat aimlessly, approached a pond with cattails, veered near the edge of a bluff, and found a secluded waterfall that was unfortunately too dark to photograph with any success.

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On my way back to my car, I stumbled upon one of the weirdest things I’ve seen on any of my forays into the woods. The first thing that I noticed about it was a pair of holes in the side of an adjoining hill. They were perfectly symmetrical and were clearly not the work of nature. I suspected something to do with water-drainage but was surprised by what I found.

I came closer to the site and noticed what appeared to be some kind of enclosure. There were stones which had been piled at one end, and at the other was a concrete barricade which provided the structural integrity and primary action of the drainage mechanism. Seeing the two sections–which otherwise appeared to belong to two separate sites–grafted into one was pretty weird. But it got weirder.

There were two tunnels at the near end of the site which looked as if they belonged in a sewer. They were roughly two feet in diameter and were large enough for a small child to pass through, though I didn’t press my luck by trying to fit through them myself.

The weirdest part of all was this mechanism. I’m not sure what it is or what it did when the site was operational, but I’m guessing from the striations that it was some sort of giant screw that raised and lowered a movable barrier within the site and regulated the flow of water. I showed the pictures to a friend, however, and she said what I thought as soon as I laid eyes on it. “It looks like a torture chamber.”


22 thoughts on “Weird Things by the Eno River

  1. Ronald Parks October 22, 2016 / 2:11 am

    Looks like an old mill race. Nice photos.

  2. RhapsodyBoheme October 22, 2016 / 4:45 am

    Haha my words exactly….like a torture chamber. Creepy looking and wouldn’t want to come across that place alone lol

    • Mark Miles October 24, 2016 / 5:01 am

      Yeah, it was very odd. I’m not ashamed to say I had a creepy feeling for an hour or two after I’d seen it.

      • RhapsodyBoheme October 24, 2016 / 5:59 am

        I bet and I would have too, for sure.

    • Mark Miles October 24, 2016 / 5:02 am

      I agree. Though the site was creepy, it was also reassuring in its demonstration of how nature can unscrew things that humans have screwed in the first place.

  3. Mel & Suan October 22, 2016 / 8:15 am

    really does look like a water storage with the mechanism acting as a sluice to release surplus water?

    • Mark Miles October 24, 2016 / 5:04 am

      Probably so. I don’t know as much about the history of the area as I’d like, but there used to be a considerable amount of industrial activity near this portion of the Eno.

  4. lolostrong October 22, 2016 / 10:03 am

    I wonder if that was an old still operation. Screw setup for squeezing corn? I’m not sure about the drains though. That’s a lot of water!

    • Mark Miles October 24, 2016 / 5:05 am

      It’s possible that it could’ve been reconnoitered for that purpose. I think it was originally some of kind of water/sewage-drainage outlet though.

  5. whimsicalmoonfarm October 22, 2016 / 2:26 pm

    Your very own ‘Blair Witch’ project? Kinda gruesome, haha.

    • Mark Miles October 24, 2016 / 5:06 am

      Haha, I hadn’t thought of that, but I could see someone making a horror movie with this thing as a backdrop.

  6. alisonwinward October 22, 2016 / 7:33 pm

    Hi, Mark,

    Thanks for liking a post on my blog 10000 Miles & More. I thought I would check out your blog in return. I didn;t expect the first post I read to be so intriguing. So intriguing, in fact, that I actually looked up the Eno River State Park website!

    Where I am in northern England we have lots of relics of our industrial past hidden in all kinds of unexpected places (what’s left of an 18th century lead mine on a moor in the middle of nowhere, for example). So my brain really started whirring when I saw this on the website’s History page: ” Settlers moved in during the mid 1700’s to set up farms and gristmills. More than 30 mills were located along the length of the Eno.”

    I wonder if this structure is a relic from a mill, although, obviously, one dating from later than the 18th century? (water from the river had been diverted to power the mill) If it is, I wonder if there’s any more of the mill out there? Wouldn;t it be fascinating to find out?

    Best wishes,

    • Mark Miles October 24, 2016 / 5:08 am

      Thank you, Alison. I know there are the remains of a mill at another location in the park, but I haven’t had the opportunity to head in that direction yet. Hopefully I will at some point in the near future though. Thank you again for your thoughtful response.

  7. Traveler October 23, 2016 / 2:36 am

    Strange! I wonder what it was.

    • Mark Miles October 24, 2016 / 5:11 am

      I’m not sure, but I’m fairly certain it’s a relic of the industrial infrastructure which used to be predominant along this stretch of the river.

  8. Savithri Senanayake October 23, 2016 / 7:05 am

    Have a wonderful weekend my dear Mark! Home you enjoed well your walk and its wonderful to see all thèse captures
    Tale care Have a great da

    • Mark Miles October 24, 2016 / 5:12 am

      Thank you so much, Savi! Really glad you liked. Have a wonderful week, my friend! 😄

  9. Mark Miles October 24, 2016 / 5:14 am

    This was another location in the park which may have been adjacent to a mill. But there was so much industrial activity here in the past few centuries that it may have been linked to the dam too. Thank you.

  10. pennsweetly October 25, 2016 / 3:31 am

    yes. nature vs man made things…like torture chambers… nature wins every time and makes all things new and beautiful again.

  11. trashonthemonocacy November 5, 2016 / 7:17 pm

    The former archaeologist in me loves these sorts of things. I agree with several commenters that this must be an old mill. There are remains of several of these in the mountains of my own hometown of Frederick, Maryland, some of them from the 18th and 19th century, but most from the 20th, when the CCC established a logging camp on Gambrill Mountain. The streams seem too small to support such an operation, but they actually worked.

    I love your blog, by the way. And thanks for stopping by mine!

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