Bridge at Dunbar’s Ford, Uwharrie River

“Dunbar’s Bridge” was the name of this 1920s-era steel bridge over the Uwharrie at the time of my 1979 architectural inventory. A few years later it was the subject of a controversy when it was demolished by the Department of Transportation over the protests of local residents.  It has never been replaced, leading to the logical question of why it couldn’t have been left as a pedestrian bridge.  It continues to be a sort of controversy in the area, as neither printed nor online maps make it clear that the connection is broken and that the roads on each side of the river have become dead ends.

The origin of the bridge is found in the following petition of 132 southwestern Randolph and 31 southeastern Davidson residents, one of a number of similar documents located in “Miscellaneous Road Records,” North Carolina State Archives file C.R. 081.925.18. The petitioners are asking the county justices to spend county money on this project. A petition was the common method of the time to seek the construction of any public improvement, whether courthouse, jail, mill, road or bridge.  The Randolph County files at the state Archives in Raleigh have a number of such original petitions, given that our courthouse never burned and our courthouse personnel never threw anything away!

At the February 1832 term of court the county Justices appointed John INGRAM, James HODGIN, Jonathan REDING, John HENLEY and A. CUNNINGHAM to be commissioners for building a bridge at Dunbar’s ford.  Construction of the bridge was awarded to the lowest bidder John DUNBAR. When completed the bridge itself was 275 feet long; stone abutments on each end combined for a total length of 313 feet. The final report of the commissioners, filed February 5, 1833, showed the total cost of the bridge to be $600.00. The Justices took action based on the following petition asking them to spend county monies to build a bridge at that location. The petition was signed by 132 citizens of Randolph County, and interestingly, also by 31 citizens of Davidson County- virtually a census of the prominent taxpayer of southwestern Randolph.

I don’t know of any photograph of the Dunbar Covered Bridge; email if you do. The petition follows, after one last view of the steel bridge (both of these can be found in the Randolph Room collection at the Asheboro Public Library).

State of North Carolina

To the worshipful the Justices of the Court of pleas and quarter sessions for the County of Randolph: Greeting. We whose names are hereunto annexed having long Laboured under great inconveniance, and in common with divers others of the good citizens continuing to, and believing it not only to be within the power of the County Court, but your will, to redress the grievances of your fellow citizens wherever it may be expedient, respectfully show to your worships: that the river Uharie, a deep and rappid stream passing through the western part of the County, is often danger[ous], and commonly difficult of passage; that there is a portion of the citizens repectable for their numbers, residing in the western and southern part of the county, who feel the weight of the difficulties alluded to the more forcibly, being frequently prevented the privilege and advantage of attending at the seat of Justice for their own County, at times when it is necessary for them to do so. Much inconvenience is also experienced by the citizens on both sides of the Stream, in their common interaction one with the other.

Your petitioners would respectfully show to your worshipful body, that a good and substantial Bridge across said stream at some point at or near the place called Dunbar’s Ford, would produce a remedy for all their grievances. Further, we would show that there is an extensive and fertile section of county, embracing parts of the counties situate to the west of us, whose citizens labour under much inconvenience in the transportation of their produce to market, having the deep and rappid stream to pass, which is not susceptable of a Ferry, and yet not supplied with any Bridge. We would further show to your worships that a Bridge at the above point would produce a remedy for this; it being the most direct, and would then be the most commodious, rout[e] to Fayetteville, and other Eastern markets. It is also shown to your worships, that there is much inconvenience experienced by many persons traveling northwardly and southwardly. The road which of late is most traveled in that direction, leading directly down the Uharie on its Eastern side, being often obstructed where it passes the many small creeks near their conflux with the river, they being rendered impassable by the eddy in times of freshets in the river, which is frequent in the winter and all rainy seasons. If there [were] a Bridge at or near the aforesaid place, travelers would be spared this inconvenience, as they might pass the river here and proceed unobstructed.

Other cogent reasonings might be brought forward to how the great utility -and nesesity- of a Bridge at the aforesaid place, but without attempting to address them, you[r] memorialists beg leave to present their petition, with confidence that your worships will here and determine, and grant such order to be made as in your wisdom may seem right and expedient: And such only would your petitioners ever ask.

Apl. the 15th 1831.

Jeremiah JOHNSON                Z. RUSH

Jesse STEED                    David M. BURNEY

Jno. LEWIS                    Hezekiah ANDREWS

Robt. CHANDLER                Isaac KEERANS

Tristram COGGESHALL            Samuel G. WINSLOW

Henry HENLEY                [?] GOSS

Henry FULLER                Henry LYNDON


Thomas LOW


William Thompson                Thomas NANCE

E.M. (?) HARRIS                Wm. DENNIS

Peter STOUT                    Wyatt IVY

William F. WOOD                Mariedeth RIDGE

Allen KEERAN                James TAYLOR

John HALL                    Hudson NANCE Jun.

Solomon JACKSON                Marshel NANCE

Isaac JACKSON                Rowland ANDREWS

William JACKSON                Wilson HOWARD

Thos. LASSETER                John JACKSON

William INGRAM Jr.                Jesse GIBSON

Wm. ARNOLD                J{?} IVY

Isaac KEARNS Sn.                Eleazer WINSLOW

Silas KEARNS Sn.                Benjamin COOPER

P. WOOD                    D. WELBORN

Ivy KEARNS                    John HAMMON

Joseph TOLBERT (?)                Wood ARNOLD

Josiah KEERANS                Thos. BRANSON

Benj. JACKSON                Wm. BRANSON

Clement ARNOLD                Philip HORNEY

Whit ARNOLD                Benjamin BROOKSHIRE

Jonas K. WOOD                Z. NIXON

Edmond McGEEHE                D. GRAVES

Daniel THAYER                David HIX Sn.

Benjamin NANCE                Joseph LAMB

B.M. THAYER                Manaring BROOKSHERE

J.R. SEARY (?)                John LARSON (?)



Willus BROOKSHERE            Martin VUNCANNON

G. NIXON                    Daniel WILLIAMS Jr.

Jesse HUSSEY                Quintin LOWE

Thomas T. BROOKSHERE            Jesse DAVIS

James HALL                    A. FULLER

Allen SKEEN                    Stephen SCARLET

Cornelius LOFLIN                Davis HIX

David JACKSON                William BRANSON

John INGRAM                Davis HIX Senr.

Henry BOYET                Elijah JACKSON

John CRAWFORD                Joseph CONER

James M.A. DRAKE                John CONNER

Abner LEWIS                    Joel ROBINS

Hamon MILLER                Manaring BROOKSHER

Eli YORK                    William RIDGE

John JACKSON                P.N. NIXON

Penuel WOOD Junior                Thos. INGRAM

John KEERAN                Clement ARNOLD

Henry JACKSON                Joseph HENLEY

Thomas Low                    Alexr. GRAY

George W. GIBSON                Jno. HENLEY

Wyatt NANCE                Isaac THOMPSON

Miles FLOYD (his mark)




Michael LUTHER



A List of Petitioners Names

from Davidson County N.C.

R. HARRISS                    Solomon SNIDER

Ms. HARRISS                Z. YARBOROUGH

Calvin J. HARRISS                George GALLIMORE

Lewis SNIDER Jn.                Benjamin LENIER

Fras. DANIEL                John SNIDER

Jesse HARRISS, Snr.                Jesse GALLIMORE

James HUGS (?)                John HEDRICK Jn.

Simeon MORRIS                Philip GARDNER

David MYERS                Henry GARNER

Lewis LINIER                Redmond PIERCE

Sion HILL                    Samuel HUGHS

George GARNER                James WILLIAMS

Wm. A. GALLIMORE            Claton WRIGHT

Samuel SHORZ                Lewis WARD




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3 Responses to “Bridge at Dunbar’s Ford, Uwharrie River”

  1. Donald W. Thayer Says:

    I am researching the history of my g-g-grandfather James Thayer and his family in western Randolph County. Two of his sons Daniel Thayer and Benjamin M. Thayer signed the petition for the bridge at Dunbar’s Ford. Their father was taxed and probably contributed work to the construction of the “Fayetteville Rd” which may have started from his property on the western edge of Randolph Co. References may be found in the records of the Randolph County Court of Commen Pleas and Quarter Sessions ie., May (p219) 1806, Feb 1808 (p340) and Aug 1811. The 1808 reference seems to refer to a “blue causeway.” Would you have any idea as to the meaning of this reference? Thanks for your help!

  2. Pat Says:

    I am also doing some family tree research and found a variety of folks listed on the Dunbar Bridge petition that may give me some clues. It was fun to transport myself back to 1831. Thanks for sharing this bit of history.

  3. John Miller Says:

    I enjoy your site on the Dunbar Bridge , One of my Grandfathers is on your site , The family thanks you for this site , Grandfathers name Haman Miller , Thank you again

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