A North Carolina historical marker posted just past the Badin Lake boat launch on NC Highway 740 identifies the location of the Hardaway site as being one mile northeast of the marker and significant to its occupation – from ca. 10,000 BC
The grassy, wooded parcel located on a hill approximately 140 feet above Badin Lake comprises a small portion of a thousand-acre donation made by ALCOA in 2020 to Morrow Mountain State Park. Between tree trunks and rocks, only squirrels and their forest friends enjoy a coveted view of the lake.
David Head looks to the future of the Hardaway site. He is responsible for the planning program for the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, which is responsible for conservation, recreation, and education related to North Carolina’s natural and cultural heritage. He is working on an area plan for using all of the newly acquired acreage and recognizes Hardaway as an important part of this acquisition.
However, there are no public access roads to the Hardaway site, and there isn’t much to see, Head said.
The property has no visible evidence of former occupants – no artifacts, no obvious features or signage for public interpretation, he explains. Uncontrolled access is not an option.
Working with the National Archaeological Office, Head is considering possible future group tours accompanied by park rangers or educators to teach visitors.
“We’re trying to figure out what the interpretation will look like in the future,” he said, “but for now, we’ll leave it as is.”
The last human occupants of this ridge above the Yadkin River were Hardaway Construction Company employees hired over 100 years ago to build the hydroelectric dam across the “narrow” gorge below. They lived in company-provided tents, cabins, and dormitories until the Narrows Dam was completed.
At that time, the Carolina Aluminum Company merger operation was underway, and the residents of the new town of Badin wanted a place to plant vegetables. The company (now ALCOA) owned the town and land next to the dam and gave its employees permission to cultivate the old campground. Digging and planting soon unearthed small pointed projectiles and primitive stone tools.
David Summerlin, a longtime Badin resident and founder of the Badin Museum, says these early Badin gardeners moved on to collecting, only guessing at the significance of their findings.
The oldest spearhead in the Badin Historical Museum dates back to 8000 BC with a distinctive shape that is easily recognizable as part of the Badin town logo. This Hardaway side-notched point, and many other items in the museum, were discovered by residents of Badin who for years roamed the surrounding fields and woods and had eagle eyes.
In 1937, an ALCOA engineer, amateur archaeologist Herbert M. Doerschuk, recognized the likely significance of the artifacts he and others were finding.
Doerschuk then informed Joffre L. Coe, North Carolina’s first professional archaeologist, but they only made a surface collection on Hardaway land.
With graduate school and World War II service, Coe could not return until 1948 when he excavated two five-foot test squares with the help of archeology students from the University of North Carolina. . Meanwhile, unauthorized relic hunters continued to remove artifacts from the site.
Coe’s investigations and supervision of the Hardaway Project continued intermittently into the 1980s. For over 40 years, Coe had collected and cataloged chipping debris and thousands of stone artifacts that were eventually donated by ALCOA to the Archeology Research Laboratories at UNC-Chapel Hill.
In 1981, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act finally gave ALCOA greater support in protecting the land from trespassers and looters.
In a groundbreaking ceremony on November 5, 1990, the site was designated a National Historic Landmark, automatically placing the property on the National Register of Historic Places and adding another layer of legal protection.
Archaeologists gather information about prehistoric peoples from materials left behind. From projectile points and stone tools discovered at Hardaway, Coe was able to identify each distinctive tool and a sequence from young to old.
Coe recognized that toolmaking dominated camp life. Later, Randolph Daniel, an archaeologist
graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill in the 1990s, traveled all over the Uwharries and eventually identified heavily mined Morrow Mountain as where native toolmakers collected rhyolite. It is one of the few rocks that can be shaped by chipping small pieces to form the desirable edges, points and notches for projectiles. Coe and Daniel’s work shows that these early people carried boulders about four miles upriver where shad were abundant, and could combine tasks and socialize in a well-protected area.
“Hardaway was, and is, extremely important to our understanding of the Late Paleoindian and Early Archaic periods of human occupation in the Southeast,” Cranford said.
He also notes the importance of preserving portions of sites so that new archaeological methods and techniques can be applied as new research questions arise.
“For now, the existing Hardaway collections continue to provide important research opportunities,” Cranford said.
People have been talking for years about the need for a museum in Badin to house artifacts from the Hardaway archaeological site, and now a growing working group, including the town of Badin, is seeking credit from the General Assembly to help make this museum a reality. .
Central North Carolina is convenient to major urban areas but lacking in North Carolina
History Museum. None of the state museums near the coast or in the mountains focus on
Native American history or archeology. An architectural firm commissioned by the city drew up a concept of a preliminary plan illustrating the feasibility of a site in the city.
City Manager Jay Almond said the need for a state museum in the town of Badin celebrating Hardaway artifacts and the culture that deposited them is not new, but work underway on the project has progressed to a level hitherto unrealized.
“It’s still early in the process,” Almond said, “but the motivation of this museum’s working group is strong, and everyone who has been exposed to the project has been supportive. It’s a really worthwhile goal, all the pieces fit together, and really, it’s long overdue.
In the meantime, David Head encourages people to explore the history of the Hardaway occupation by visiting the Morrow Mountain State Park Museum and talking with a ranger. A visit to the Badin Museum is also instructive. The books written by Coe and Daniel are useful for serious investigation. Online resources also exist through the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to help parents, teachers, and citizen archaeologists at ancientnc.web.unc.edu.