A Walk Down Memory Lane

We left the car at the Battle Park lot off Falls Road, close to the site of the now removed Confederate Statue. Rather than take our usual eastward walk deeper into the park, though, this time my husband and I decided to try something new. We crossed Falls Road and hit the section of the Rocky Mount Trail that leads to Sunset Park.

walkway beside bridge

All photos taken by my walking companion, Al Pridgen

It was Sunday morning, and in pre-COVID times, we would have been on the road beside this walkway, driving to our downtown church. Instead, a closed sanctuary gave us the opportunity to appreciate Nature and reminisce about old Rocky Mount.

When thinking about the history of Rocky Mount, where better to begin than with the second-oldest cotton mill in the state, repurposed and quite photogenic across Falls Road?

mill village view

According to historians, the Tar River, visible for a good portion of this walk, is so named because it was used as a major route for tar-laden barges navigating its waters. I’ve often thought the dark waters of the Tar River also help explain its name.

tar river

These beautiful cypress trees are between the renovated mill houses and the River Falls subdivision. At this section of the trail, it was hard to believe we were in the city limits.

old cedars

I love how the trail can be easily accessed by the residents of the restored mill houses.

access to mill village

After a mile or so, my husband and I reached Sunset Park, the end of this portion of the Rocky Mount Trail.

sunset park

One of my favorite features of the park has always been the merry-go-round, but I’d never noticed the murals depicting historic Rocky Mount scenes painted along the bottom of the canopy. Absolutely beautiful!

When were these added? Who painted them? Anybody remember Coplon’s downtown? I don’t, but judging by the cars in this scene, this store may have been before my days of shopping in downtown Rocky Mount.


My husband was happy to see what he remembers as the pool house. He recalls lining up here with his quarter to pay for two hours of swimming at the “city pool.” Growing up on Meadowbrook Road right outside the city limits (at the time), he enjoyed the pool more often than I did. Out in Edgecombe County halfway between Rocky Mount and Pinetops, I went only when I spent the night with my cousins who lived on Sycamore Street.

old pool house

I don’t know why it has taken me years to walk this part of the Rocky Mount Trail. It was beautiful and, at times, a stroll down memory lane.


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