Local News

Two Communities, One Problem

Posted May 15, 1998

— On the way to this small crossroads community, the issue seems to be officially settled. The government made the road signs and the maps calling it Willow Springs, plural. But, the government also built the US Post Office calling it Willow Spring, singular.

Elsie Riley really doesn't know the answer. To be safe, she spells it both ways. Her general store has the "S." Her restaurant next door doesn't, or does it?

"(It's) Willow Spring, but most people say Willow Springs," Riley says.

"When it was settled, it was a spring surrounded by willow trees," explains Willow Spring(s) native, Steve Bowden. Another native, Shirley Howard, wonders if there was only one spring.

The locals seem to know the origin of the name, but their tales only add more mud to the water.

"Tell him about the three springs," Howard says.

To make a long tale shorter, Jerry Fuller bought farm land from a man who said there were three springs, not one.

"They capped one off when they came with the highway down through there," Fuller recalls.

Another one went dry. One spring remains.

All this wouldn't matter so much if not for another community, 18 miles away in Johnston County. It says Willow Springs on the map, but there are no signs on the ground-- except for the church. It's another community with an identity crisis.

This issue is one the WRAL Weather Center has received plenty of calls about. To avoid confusion, when a storm is headed toward Willow Springs, the meteorologists will refer to either Wake or Johnston County.

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