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Interesting Facts & Tidbits

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wide shot of Jordan Lake Dam
The US Army Corps of Engineers started construction on Jordan Lake Dam near Moncure in 1967. It was originally called New Hope Lake. The recreational and water reservoir lake covers nearly 47,000 acres, most of it in Chatham County. 

Photo by Duane Hall


Historical Facts:

  • The county was named for the Earl of Chatham in England, who was William Pitt…now you know how Pittsboro also got its name.
  • Jordan Lake is named for Benjamin Everett Jordan, a former United States senator from our state.
  • Moncure once served as the western-most inland port in the state, linked all the way to the coast by steamships.
  • Those steamships often brought tourists from the coast escaping the heat and mosquitoes of summer. They often stayed in Pittsboro, which was a resort destination during this time.
  • British General Cornwallis camped in Pittsboro during the Revolutionary War.
  • The community of Bonlee was originally called Dunlap Mills, but changed its name after having a town contest.
  • The Camelback Truss Bridge is an historic bridge that remains in place over the Deep River and connects us to Lee County, but it no longer carries highway traffic. It has been preserved as a park by a group of committed citizens initiated by Margaret Jordan-Ellis. See photo on this page.

    highway marker on US 15/501 commemorating George Moses Horton

    This historic marker on US 15/501 commemorates the amazing accomplishments of George Moses Horton, a slave who was an accomplished poet well before he learned to read and write. 

    Photo by Duane Hall


  • Locks on the Deep River once were used to transport coal to the coast.
  • Goldston once had a movie theater on the second floor of what is now Miller Heating and Air.
  • George Moses Horton, who lived most of his life as a slave in the county, is Chatham County's official poet. He composed many poems before he learned to read and write, but published the first book by a Southern black author, The Hope of Liberty (1829). A University of North Carolina faculty member's wife taught him to read and write in 1828 and arranged the initial publication of his poems. Horton tried several times to buy his freedom from slavery, but was only freed at the end of the Civil War. A book on Horton, The Black Bard of North Carolina: George Moses Horton and His Poetry, is still available through local bookstores.
  • Tod R. Edwards was a prominent early resident of Siler City. This African-American leader owned a well-respected jewelry and watch repair store and photography shop, but he started out as a barber.


Miscellaneous Facts:



  • Siler City still has an operating stockyard auction house.
  • The county has several traditional artists tours, including the Tour de Moncure (held in partnership with Moore County) and the Annual Studio Tour.
  • The county generally ranks between fifteenth and seventeenth in the state in terms of land size, depending on the source of information.
  • The Carnivore Preservation Trust, located just east of Pittsboro, houses several wild animals, but it has the largest captive population of Asian bearcats in the nation.
  • Chatham County has one of only two  Five-Diamond rated hotel and restaurant (ratings by AAA) in the entire state--The Fearrington House Inn and Restaurant.