Border Belt museum adds plow exhibit

First Posted: 4/17/2014

FAIRMONT — The Border Belt Farmers Museum and Welcome Center in Fairmont inherited a storied piece of Robeson County’s agricultural history on Wednesday.

Paul Shepard Oliver III loaned the museum a vintage plow that has been in his family for six generations.

“We got it out for a wedding last fall and I kept looking at it and thinking, ‘it’s a shame we can’t have this out somewhere,’” he said. “To be able to feel and touch it and see it up close makes a difference.”

The plow, which was originally powered by a yoke of oxen, was last used 90 years ago by Oliver’s great-grandfather, James Shepard Oliver.

“Anybody who has grown up in a field can appreciate it,” he said. “I can’t imagine being behind two oxen; it must have been an awful experience. People haven’t seen these things for 50 or 60 years, so they’ve forgot what the oxen did.”

According to his grandfather, family members and neighbors used the plow to clear an expanse of land stretching from N.C. 41 to Ashpole Swamp.

Charles Kemp, a curator at the museum and former mayor of Fairmont, said the plow is a valuable addition to the facility.

“Having 40 years of experience as an educator, I have more of an insight into the treasure of this artifact,” he said. “If we can get people in here to look at it, it will focus the viewer’s concentration on how hard and tough it was 200 years ago.”

Located inside a converted railroad depot, the museum features an array of exhibits that spotlight the town’s rich agricultural background.

“Education is part of what this building is all about,” Kemp said.

The museum is located at 101 Thompson St. and is open from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; from 9 a.m. until noon on Tuesdays; and from 1 until 3 p.m. om Thursdays.

Jaymie Baxley can be reached at 910-272-6146, or on Twitter @Jaymie_Baxley