Lane Street Project: an earlier look at Lane Street.

My ears pricked up when I spotted this volume at Wilson County Register of Deeds office, but it wasn’t as helpful as I thought. It holds “plans and profiles” of proposed state highway projects in the county. Bishop L.N. Forbes Street, formerly known as Lane Street and State Road 1564, only appears once, and then only at its junction with  Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, also known as Highways 264 and 58. I’d hoped to find documents related to the street’s paving some time in the late 1980s, but as paving didn’t happen until the street was annexed into city limits, it likely was not a state-funded project. 

Still, perusing the volume was not a complete waste of time. Page 1-D of Project 6.3410029 is one of the plat maps prepared in 1968 for a project to widen and improve 264/58 from U.S. 301 (then the city limit) to the split where NC 58 veers south toward Stantonsburg. In the map detail below, the old Rountree Missionary Baptist Church (a clapboard building I vaguely remember from childhood) is bottom left. Running alongside the church lot to the right is the eastern end of Lane Street. It’s a little difficult to see, but in heavy script spanning the street is “30′” over a double-ended arrow, then “Exist. R/W,” in other words, an existing thirty-foot right-of-way. 

A slightly closer look reveals the street width (highlighted in red) within the boundaries of the 30-foot right-of-way. (The little blob by the road, followed by, “GUM”? That’s a sweetgum tree standing inside the right-of-way.) Recall that today’s right-of-way is 60 feet wide. 

It’s difficult to know how close to scale this map is, but Lane Street/S.R. 1546 appears to be about half the width of the right-of-way, or about 15 feet wide. (For perspective, a single-car residential driveway is 10-12 feet wide.) Lane Street was unpaved in 1968 (and 20 or so years thereafter), but was a maintained road, meaning it was regularly scraped and resurfaced with fresh dirt or gravel. However, in the first several decades of Rountree, Odd Fellows, and Vick Cemeteries, this would have not have been much more than a dirt track, heavily rutted from wagon wheels and impossibly muddy after hard rains. 

1968, of course, was well after the period of active burials in the Lane Street cemeteries. A view of the older road is useful, however, to envision where graves may now lie in relation to the modern road and right-of-way.

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