FAYETTEVILLE — If you want to understand the power of water, simply drive along the road that borders the campus of Fayetteville State University. 

There’s a branch of Cross Creek on the right side of the road. The campus is off to the left. Not far down the road, there’s a huge stone mound across the creek. The pile is roughly three stories high. The man-made stone mountain is banked, so it hugs each side of the valley created by the creek. Two giant, corrugated pipes pierce the bottom of the mountain, allowing Cross Creek to run through the pipes and continue on its way. 

The mountain forms the train bed for a CSX railroad line to reach Fort Bragg. The line was destroyed by the flood waters from Hurricane Matthew, racing down the creek. Atop the mountain, construction crews are laying new track, dump trucks bring in more stone and bulldozers spread out the stone along the track bed. 

The entire story of what happened at the railroad bridge is a testament to the power of nature as well as to the ingenuity, strength and resilience of human engineering.

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