The history of the Rockefeller Estate, known as Overhills, started more than 100 years ago. Dissected by N.C. Highway 87, for many years it housed, among other things, a golf course, hunting and riding trails, stables, tennis court, a lake, guest cottages, major residences and servants’ quarters.

It also became the source of a timber operation and farmland for crops of corn and tobacco.

According to historic documents provided by Dr. Linda F. Carnes-McNaughton, archaeologist/curator, Environmental Division, Directorate of Public Works, the Department of Defense purchased the nearly 10,000 acres for more than $29 million in 1997 to create the Northern Training Area.

What the DoD purchased was only a portion of the land that once served as the Rockefeller estate, which at one time encompassed nearly 40,000 acres. Much of the Overhills estate land was sold over time.

Acquisition of the property has allowed Fort Bragg to increase its buffer around the encampment area.

During the past decade, fires (some accidental and some caused by arson) have destroyed some of the property.

Because the property was purchased to conduct training, most of the old buildings are now derelict, dangerous and structurally unsound, explained Carnes-McNaughton. 

No trespassing signs are posted on the property for security and protection purposes.

But, its land and ecological value to Fort Bragg for training remains intact.

Studies, implemented in part by the Fort Bragg Cultural Resources Management Program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have found that the Overhills soils are a mixture of sand, clay and silt, and that native vegetation includes dogwood, huckleberry, wax myrtle, sassafras and holly. The red-cockaded woodpecker and the Saint Frances’ satyr are two endangered species found there.

(Information for this article was also obtained from the “Historic American Landscape Survey” and from