Local News

Recent Flooding Uncovers Hidden Treasure At Hope Mills Lake

Posted June 11, 2003 5:21 a.m. EDT

— Recent heavy rains and flooding have surfaced a secret hidden under the waters of Hope Mills Lake.

After more than 130 years underwater, parts of a bridge that were burned down in 1865 during Gen. William Sherman's fiery march across the South have surfaced.

State Rep. Alex Warner and Hope Mills commissioners said they were amazed at the town's recent discovery.

"It's common knowledge passed down to us that Sherman burnt not just one bridge in Hope Mills, but he's reported to have burned all five to stop manufacturing and industry in Cumberland County," he said.

Hope Mills Lake was drained before, but the bridge was never seen. Leaders believe it was covered with dirt and only unearthed when the powerful waters rushed out.

Jim Greathouse, a historic interpreter at the Museum of the Cape Fear, believes the bridge is from the Civil War. However, after looking at the official record, he believes the bridge was actually burned by Confederate troops as they were retreating.

"You have General Braxton Bragg telling General Hoke to destroy roads, bridges -- anything to slow up Union troops. That was the first of March. Federal troops came through on the 10th of March to discover the bridge burned," he said.

Warner said he does not think Confederate troops would burn their own livelihood, but no matter who did the damage, he believes the bridge is a treasure.

"We're walking in such a historical area," he said.

Warner said he hopes to find state historic resources so part of the bridge can be removed and restored.