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Published March 9, 2017

Urban Exploration: Eno River’s Lost Pumping Station and Dam

Hiking through the backwoods of Durham, where the Eno River and its tributaries cut deep valleys, creating unusually mountainous terrain in the typically flat Piedmont of North Carolina, the last thing I expected to find was an urban exploration adventure.

But in the late 1800’s, Howland and WF Ellis built what would become a hidden playground for urbex fanatics–an underground gravel and cobblestone bunker, carved right into the hillside. With high, thin walls, a bold explorer can stand right on the edge and peer out over the Eno’s waving rapids, older than Durham herself.

Urban Exploration -- Eno River's Lost Pumping Station and Dam 16(1)

We began our trek down the, aptly named, Pump Station Trail. Wandering the woods on an oddly warm February night was enough for me, but my brother-in-law said, “You’ll like this trail. There are some abandoned buildings off the road!”

Actually, as it turns out, there are many abandoned buildings and homesteads, and even a haunted graveyard hiding in the woods of the Eno
I’ve given location information at the end of the article.

Excited to explore, we balanced our way across several thin bridges before finally reaching the Pump Station, which is broken down into several sites: The filter room wall, the underground pump house, and the dam.

Urban Exploration -- Eno River's Lost Pumping Station and Dam 14

First, I examined the Filter Room.

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  • heather


  • I sincerely believe that through the power of storytelling, I can make social issues become more than a set of statistics. My expertise is in community leadership, non-profit work, event coordinating, networking, and storytelling. All my articles.

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