Catching up at Eno River

West Point on the Eno - sign

I went back to Eno River State Park to check out some attractions that I had missed when I walked the Mountains-to-Sea Trail the first time around. That’s one of the perks of writing a book; you need to do lots of research.

On the Pump Loop trail

Eno River SP - riverI walked the Pump Loop Trail again. The river was once Durham’s water supply but it wouldn’t be again.

Thanks to
activists like Margaret Nygard, the locals created the Eno River
and protected the river from being dammed up. Today, the Eno
is flat and slow moving river with lots of grass and rocks visible.

I found the crumbling walls and remnants of a holding tank for the old water supply. Lots of metals parts are partially buried in the ground. Poison ivy covers the brick structures and that may be the best protection from vandals. An old well has a tree growing out of it.

Dappled light makes for poor photos and I couldn’t get any better photographs than I did last time but the remains are plentiful.

Laurel Bluff Trail

Laurel Bluff Trail goes along above the river but the river  isn’t moving. Too many good wooden bridge have been built over dry streams. The trail is really over bridged that’s a state park for you. 

Lots of access points allow visitors to put your feet in the water. Since I was by myself, the woods were quiet and I surprised a deer and fawn.

West Point on the Eno

When I walked this area last time, my last entry was
We zip through West Point Park on Eagle Trail on a well-blazed trail, cross the Eno River again on a huge metal bridge and find the car.   

I missed a lot last time at West Point on the Eno, a Durham City Park. The park was opened in 1976 and now has 400 acres. Not too big but it’s well used.

With the warm summer weather, the park attracts day camp for inner city kids. Kids in the water, kids on the lawn, kids running around, kids being given a snack before quiet time and going home.

Hey, that was me. I was a camper and a counselor, in day camps and in overnight camps. Children’s camps are very important.

And obviously some snakes – see the picture above.

West Point on the Eno-photography museumLots of historical buildings dot the park. But I wanted to see the Hugh Mangum Photographic Museum. And through the generosity of spirit of the park manager, I was able to get into the building, even though it was technically closed. I was so, so lucky.

Hugh Mangum grew in Durham (1877 – 1922). The Mangum house on the park property was the family summer home and later their permanent home. Hugh Mangum became an itinerant photographer. He wandered the South looking to photograph people and returned home when he ran out of money.

Mangum used large cameras and dry glass plates since roll film had not been yet been available. He took over the second floor of the Mangum Pack house, a tobacco building where tobacco was sorted and graded. This building has now been turned into a museum.
His personal effects (shaving kit, bible) are on display along with his photographic equipment.

He was fascinated by the lyrical, beautiful and extravagant in everyday life.
And he was able to follow his fascination.

On the second floor are the photographs that he took, mostly of people that he encouraged to pose, including a few African Americans. All were very formally dressed. You can peek in his darkroom.

West Point on the Eno-posingchairHe recorded his trips on his traveling trunk with the date and location. You’d think he would have used a notebook but a notebook would have disappeared. He was always shown with his wire rim glasses and always with a jacket.
The  museum displays a wicker posing chair, where his customers sat for their portraits.

Mangum died of pneumonia in 1922 when he was 44. His brother, Leo, lived in the house until 1966 so the property was not vacant for long.

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