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Home North Carolina Anson County City of Polkton Historical Markers The Brown Creek Soil Conservation District--first In America

The Brown Creek Soil Conservation District--first In America

US 74, Polkton, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 34° 59' 45.276", -80° 10' 37.7796"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
" "
(The Brown Creek Soil Conservation District marker is an oversized marker with extended text. That text follows.)

     Here was established the first district in America for a systematic program of land erosion control. Known as the Brown Creek District because it embraced the area of the Brown Creek Watershed, it heralded the beginning of a national program of soil conservation districts.

     The Brown Creek District included the plantation birthplace of Hugh H. Bennett, “father of soil conservation.” Bennett, born in 1881, graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1903, and became a soil surveyor in the Bureau of Soils, Department of Agriculture. Observing that soil erosion ruined much good land throughout the United States, Bennett slowly initiated a program to prevent this waste. On April 27, 1935, Bennett became director of the Soil Conservation Service, a position he held until his retirement in 1952. By this time soil conservation was a national concern, largely because of the work of Hugh Bennett and his associates.

      The success of the soil conservation district program was due to local participation by farmers and landowners. Conservation districts were created throughout the United States. Bennett and his specialists worked with the farmers in the districts for an effective program.

     The Brown Creek District was established in 1937. In May thirty local property-owners petitioned the State Soil Conservation Committee “that there is need, in the interest of the public health, safety, and welfare, for a soil conservation district to function in the territory hereinafter described.” The district would embrace 120,000 acres, much of it badly eroded. The petition was approved on May 31. A public hearing, held on July 3 at Wadesboro and followed by the mailing of ballots to the local farmers, resulted in an overwhelmingly favorable vote for creating the district. The North Carolina Secretary of State issued a certificate setting up the district on August 4. The Brown Creek District became the example for districts of the future.

Hugh H. Bennett, Elements of Soil Conservation (1947)
Wellington Brink, Big Hugh: The Father of Soil Conservation (1951)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, I, 137-138 –sketch by Charles W. Eagles
Howard E. Covington Jr. and Marion A. Ellis, eds., The North Carolina Century: Tar Heels Who Made a Difference, 1900-2000 (2002)
Tuesday Letter (newsletter of the National Association of Soil Conservation Districts), July 12, 1960, and August 1, 1962
Santford Martin, “And History is Already Shining on Him: Some Impressions of Hugh H. Bennett, Father of Soil Conservation” (1959)Anson County website: http://www.co.anson.nc.us/browncreek/
United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service website:
The Brown Creek Soil Conservation District--first Historical Marker Location Map, America Historical Marker Location Map, Polkton, North Carolina