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Crossing Carolina - The Colonial Byway

Updated on November 30, 2007
Hillsborough Courthouse
Hillsborough Courthouse

The Colonial Byway has been designated by the North Carolina Department of Transportation as one of 45 scenic byways in the state. These routes have been selected because they embody the diverse beauty, culture, history, and geography of the state while providing travelers with a less-hectic alternate route. The routes are clearly marked with highway signs and the Scenic Byways logo.

The Colonial Byway

Length: 92 miles

Driving Time: 2.5 hours

Counties: Durham, Caswell, Guilford, Orange, Rockingham

This route provides a glimpse of 18th and 19th century history in North Carolina. Begin the byway in Monticello in Guilford County by following N.C. 150 East to Williamsburg. Continue on N.C. 150 toward Locust Hill. About 1 ½ miles past Locust Hill, take a right onto U.S. 158. Follow U.S. 158 East for about 5 miles until it reaches the Yanceyville town limits. Established in 1791 as the Caswell Court House, the name was changed in 1833 to honor then N.C. legislator Bartlett Yancey. In the town of Yanceyville, turn right onto Main Street (S.R. 1163). Continue on Main Street until it intersects with N.C. 62. Turn left onto N.C. 62 to continue on the byway. While traveling north on N.C. 62, look for many older houses and barns dating back to the 1800s. Drive slowly through Milton to notice the architecture and buildings of the 19th century. Prior to the Civil War, this town was a booming community with two newspapers and a branch of the state bank. Turn right at the stop light in Milton and follow N.C. 57 south towards Semora. At Semora turn right, follow N.C. 119 south for about 4 miles before turning right again onto Stephentown Road (S.R. 1564). Follow S.R. 1564 for 6 miles before going right onto U.S. 158 for almost 2 miles. At the intersection with N.C. 86, turn left and travel south for almost 24 miles. This stretch provides a look at Piedmont dairy farms and rural life. Look for a white brick building to the right while passing through Hightowers and a red brick building to the left in Prospect Hill. These two-story buildings are examples of general stores of the mid 1800s and are still are being used today.

Just north of Hillsborough, turn left onto Governor Burke Drive (S.R. 1619). The road number changes to S.R. 1556 at the intersection with N.C.. 57. Governor Thomas Burke, North Carolina's third governor elected by the General Assembly, served from 1781-1782. His grave is on the left in a tree grove about ¾ of a mile from N.C. 57. When the road ends, turn right on Miller Road (S.R. 1555) and go 1 ½ miles through the residential area to the U.S. 70 Bypass. Continue straight across U.S. 70, then take a right on St. Mary's Road (S.R. 1002), which becomes East King Street (S.R. 1150). Settled in 1754, Hillsborough was once North Carolina's summer capitol. Public tours of the historic district begin at the visitor's center located on the corner of King and Cameron Streets. Continue the byway, driving three blocks on East King Street, then turn left on Churton Street (N.C. 86/U.S. 70 Business East) at the stop light. Cross the Eno River, turn left at the first light and follow U.S. 70 Business for 3 miles until it meets the U.S. 70 Bypass. Follow U.S. 70 Bypass East. The scenic route temporarily ends as U.S. 70 passes under I-85. Continue along U.S. 70

to the first traffic light and turn right onto N.C. 751 where the scenic route resumes. Follow this road for approximately 3 miles through Duke Forest, an educational/training forest for Duke University students, to U.S. 15/501 in Durham. The city of Durham was first established as a railroad stop on donated land from Dr. Bartlett Snipes Durham. Nearby attractions include the Eno River State Park, Falls Lake Recreational Area and Bennett Place State Historic Site. Confederate General Joseph Johnston surrendered to General William Sherman at Bennett Place, ending the Civil War in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida.

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