north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     Formed in 1785, Rockingham County was well known to many colonists for its beautiful environs and healthful environment. By 1790, Moravians from Salem and other nearby communities had discovered a mineral springs in the area that provided medicinal benefits for visitors and began to regularly send their ailing members to the springs. Other early visitors to the spring included Governor Alexander Martin who called a session of the Council of State to be held there in June, 1790. Because of the prevalence of sulphur springs, the area became known as Rockingham Springs and was identified as such on the 1808 Price-Strother map of the state.

     Because of the recognized importance of the spring, owners of the property began to capitalize on their fortune, eventually creating a health resort on the property. By the turn of the century, it was a well-known spot to visit for the sick throughout the Piedmont. John Lenox purchased the property and operated the springs as a business, building a large frame house and advertising it in 1804 as the “Castle of Thundertontrenck.” (!) The area also became known as Lenox Castle. By 1807 Archibald D. Murphey, noted attorney and proponent of statewide transportation improvements, had purchased the resort. It continued to be frequented by many noted North Carolina leaders such as Thomas Ruffin.

     The property changed hands several times and, by 1837, it was operated by John J. Wright, who advertised the healthful qualities of the springs throughout the state and promised a “handsome, healthy and pleasant situation” with waters sure to invigorate visitors who would enjoy “good accommodations during the approaching summer season.” The resort property is now in private ownership and only a small portion of a building constructed by John Lenox survives as a wing attached to a farm house.

Lindley S. Butler, Rockingham County: A Brief History (1982)
Lindley S. Butler, Our Proud Heritage: A Pictorial History of Rockingham County, North Carolina (1971)
“Rockingham Mineral Springs” advertisement in Fayetteville Observer, July 12, 1837

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north carolina highway historical marker program

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