Yadkin River Park
Yadkin River Park is the newest feature in the Davidson County Parks and Recreation system. The park is centered around the Historical Wil-Cox Bridge, built in 1924, it is one of only eight bridges of similar design in the country and spans 1299 feet across the Yadkin River. Once serving as the main highway between the larger cities of Greensboro and Charlotte, the old structure now allows people to take a leisurely stroll high across the river and take in some amazing views. There are several covered benches that allow visitors to sit and soak in the surroundings. Along with the bridge, there are also several miles of hiking and biking trails and even a covered picnic shelter. The park also serves as an access point to the northern end of High Rock Lake. It's the perfect spot for paddlers and fishermen to launch their boats and travel upstream on the Yadkin River or downstream to the lake. There are even several tent camping spots available, however they must be reserved through the Davidson County Parks and Recreation Department. Beyond the scenic beauty of the river, the area has a rich history dating back thousands of years.
In 2021 the Wilcox Bridge underwent extensive renovations and repairs. The drone video below shows how the facelift made the old structure look as good as new.
The Wilcox bridge was completed in 1924 at a cost of $212,000,and is named for highway commissioners W.E. Wilkinson of Charlotte and Elwood Cox of High Point. The unique design was an engineering marvel in its day. Prior to the completion of the bridge, the options for traveling across the Yadkin River were limited to fords, shallow areas in the river, a few ferries that were privately operated and charged a toll for use and a private covered bridge that spanned the river near the current location the Wilcox Bridge. The original wooden bridge was built in the 1800s and was eventually replaced by a steel version using the same foundation. That bridge was used as the main river crossing until the completion of the Wilcox Bridge. You can still see the foundation stones for the old wooden bridge in the photos below. Some prankster put a mailbox on one of the stone foundations.
After the new Interstate 85 bridge was completed over the Yadkin River, the state was planning to demolish the old Wilcox bridge, but preservationists wanted it saved because of its historical significance. A few visionary citizens in Davidson County also saw the tourism value in the structure with the idea of creating a park adjacent to the Interstate. In March of 2010 the County Commissioners voted to take ownership and responsibility for maintenance of the bridge after the state completed some much needed repairs and sweetened the deal by giving the county the $2.5 million estimated cost of demolition. The bridge became the centerpiece of the county's newest park. It was dedicated in June of 2019.
A large crowd turned out to witness the the official opening of the park and to see all the work that had been done.
Many of the visitors toured the new park trails that go through what is left of the Civil War era "Fort York." It is believed that the Confederate fort was built in anticipation of Union General George Stoneman’s Raid into the Piedmont of North Carolina and to protect the nearby North Carolina Railroad Bridge. Ironically only one recorded military action took place at the fort. On April 12, 1865, three days after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, a small detachment of Union raiders fired artillery at the fort and the Confederates returned fire from the fort. The high ground gave the Confederates the advantage and the Union forces eventually retreated. Today you can still see the remains of the earthen walls of the fort and stand at what is believed to the the cannon positions on the bluffs over looking the river.
Located at the northern end of High Rock Lake, there is plenty to do at Yadkin River Park. You can access the lake and river, stroll across the bridge, hike the trails, picnic or spend some time fishing along the bank.
There are big plans for the park to continue to grow as Davidson County expands facilities on the north side of the river with enhanced facilities, a visitor center along with a proposed 11-mile trail connecting the Yadkin River Park and Boones Cave Park. On the south side the Town of Spencer is working on connecting the park to a new greenway and eventually it will be possible to go from the Davidson County side all the way to the North Carolina Transportation Museum. Below are drawing of the proposed expansion on both sides of the river.
Yadkin River Park Events
September 30, 2021
Ice Cream Social and Park Tour
Friends of Yadkin River Park gathered gathered for an ice cream social and toured the facilities to see all the improvements that have been made. Attendees learned about area history and future plancs for the park.