Rigsbee Road And 751 - Originally Mystery Photo - 05.6.10

35.997105, -78.950651

Cross Street
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"Duke-Carolina Football Game"
(Courtesy Library of Congress)


That's a great picture! It feels like a 1940's version of the present day intersection of Erwin Road and Cameron Blvd, before 15-501 came thru and the roads in the area were reconfigured.

It's not a perfect fit, but something makes me feel I've driven over the road in the photo that extends straight into the distance....about 900 times :)

15-501 came along a few years before I did, and apart from checking with a 1948 map to confirm that an intersection did exist there that far back, I have no idea if I'm right about the location.

Course I'm assuming "Duke Carolina football game" means a home game. Watch it turn out to be someplace in Chapel Hill LOL

It'll be interesting to see other responses!

It is labeled as "Durham, NC"


This photograph, or one taken at the same time, is in an updated version (post 1930's)of the W.P.A. Guide to the Old North State (North Carolina).

Well, if it's a post-1929 photo (judging by the cars, it is) and it's a Duke home game, then it has to be in the vicinity of Wallace Wade Stadium.

The road going straight away looks an awful lot like Erwin, especially the gentle curve up the hill, as it looks to meet at an intersection (Morrene?).

Then again, it could be Cameron and Duke University, looking toward Wannamaker, which would put Hart House, built in 1933, just out of frame on the left.

The terrain is wrong for the foreground road to be Cameron anywhere near present or old Erwin, as far as I can tell.

Here is a map from the right decade which shows the streets around West Campus... and I'm durned if I can find anything that fits.

Is it possible that this game was played somewhere else? Wallace Wade opened in 1929, so it should have been the venue in the 1940s...

I've wondered if the road extending straight ahead is the roadway extending from 751/Academy to the southwest that is now part of the Duke Cross Country trail - it matches that terrain. The Erwin/751 connection has changed considerably since that time. Although I can't put my hand on a suitable map right now, I remember an old Duke Forest Map that showed the western portion of the 'wide' Erwin Road following a curving path to the west of the current ROW.


Ya know, I think that fits, Gary. I was led astray by the lack of obvious slope, but Cameron is shallower right there with a sharper slope after you go around the corner (to the right in the photo)... and a mild slope might be hard to detect in the photo without a lot of pine trees or telephone poles.

This map (same one I linked above) does show that intersection pre-realignment, and all the visible details match at least somewhat: Rigsbee (the now-jogging-trail road) does go straight and then right, Cameron goes to the left just a bit (possibly exaggerated by foreshortening in the photo), and that orientation puts Wallace Wade behind the camera -- where everyone seems to be headed -- and within walking distance.

Nice map Woozle.From the map it looks to be Erwin heading west in the foreground and extending to the right just past Lambeth Circle.The left fork appears to be a previous incarnation of Science Drive.This left fork heading southwest should eventually connect with "Horseshoe" Stadium.

I don't think Erwin Road is in the picture. At the time this picture was taken, the 'straight' version of Erwin on the 1948 map didn't exist - Erwin only took the exaggerated curve to meet the still-extant intersection of Old Erwin and 751. I think the two roads in the picture are 751 and Rigsbee.

Rigsbee still exists west of 15-501 bypass as "Lemur Lane" - at least the part extending west to Old Erwin. The part extending south to Cornwallis used to be called Forest Road, and there were a number of old houses along it. Unless Duke has disposed of it, the TE Rigsbee house is still standing at the curve in Lemur Lane - the former intersection of Rigsbee and Forest.


It's likely a line of cars abandoned by their suicidal Duke owners who were inconsolable after a loss to UNC! :)

I've often wondered where those photos were taken; the LOC has a whole series of them, several of which have "near Duke University Stadium" in the caption. The most amusing ones are a series of a UNC fan paying his debt for betting and losing to a Duke fan: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/I?fsaall:207:./temp/~ammem_utLj::di…:@@@

The LOC photo series is great; thanks for the pointer, Steve R.

Looks like the photos were taken in November 1939 based on several LOC captions.

In 1939 the game was in Durham, on Saturday November 18, final score Duke 13 UNC 3.

I am pretty certain that you can see the remains of Rigsbee Road on the golf course side of 15-501.

If start at the lower trail head (the one closest to the 751 - Erwin Road intersection), follow the trail to the first left turn but instead of staying on the Al Buehler go straight, you will will be on the remains of Rigsbee Road. I believe before they did the renovations to the trail, the bridge was the old bridge from Rigsbee Road.

From running on the Washington Duke fitness trail: I think this photo shows an intersection located near the current gravel parking lot near the bottom of the hill on Highway 751 after you pass the Washington Duke Inn on the left. The road going straight is the current fitness trail. The fitness trail now curves to the left at the bottom of the hill in the picture, but the remains of the road that goes straight up the hill still exist. That road would connect with present day Lemur Lane, but for 15-501 which now severs the road. In the middle of the photo you can see cars parked on a road intersecting the current fitness trail, which i believe is an extension of Erwin Road, not Science Drive, because the remains of that extension also still exist on the fitness trail.


Yes - see comments above. That road was called Rigsbee Road.


This is amazing. I grew up walking with my family on the Cross Country trail. It took about 10 minutes staring at this to get the orientation right but now I see it. My, how things change.

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