In the early 1900s, some members of the second generation of the Rockefeller family purchased forty thousand acres in the Sandhills area of North Carolina, just north of Fayetteville. Over the years some of the land was sold to timber and farming interests, leaving between ten and eleven thousand acres in the Rockefeller name. The estate, named Overhills, was used as a hunting lodge/resort by the family and their guests, and included an 18-hole golf course designed by noted golf course architect Donald Ross.
Fort Bragg was established during World War I on land between Overhills and Fayetteville. As the Fort grew during World War II and the Vietnam era it tended to expand westward, as Fayetteville was a barrier to the south and east and Overhills was to the north. In the 1990s, the Fort was just about running out of room, and negotiations were begun with the Rockefeller family for the sale of the property to the Army. The deal was concluded in 1997. Since then, the undeveloped areas have been used for training exercises, but the core of the estate -- the houses and cottages, the stables, the golf course -- have been put in mothballs pending the results of a Federally-mandated study on the use of the historic property.
The Army held a meeting on June 5 and recently held another on July 12 to get input on balancing the community's desire for access to the property for a variety of reasons -- historical, environmental, recreational, economic -- and the Army's clearly stated mission to use the majority of the estate for training. (Minutes of these meetings will be posted here as they become available.) Several potential public uses were put forth; for example, the Donald Ross-designed golf course was proposed as a location for an operation of the First Tee program, which exposes disadvantaged youth to the positive values of golf.
North Carolina Rail-Trails is willing to serve as the facilitator for the Army, local and state government, local businesses and private citizens, to help develop this unique public resource and make the project a reality.