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Whoever said that you can’t fight city hall never met Margaret Nygard. In the mid-1960s, Margaret settled in Durham with her husband, Holger. Soon after, she became known to locals

Madison County Championship Rodeo

Whoever said that you can’t fight city hall never met Margaret Nygard. In the mid-1960s, Margaret settled in Durham with her husband, Holger. Soon after, she became known to locals

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Whoever said that you can’t fight city hall never met Margaret Nygard. In the mid-1960s, Margaret settled in Durham with her husband, Holger. Soon after, she became known to locals

Lady of the River

Whoever said that you can’t fight city hall never met Margaret Nygard. In the mid-1960s, Margaret settled in Durham with her husband, Holger. Soon after, she became known to locals as that lady trying to save the Eno River.

Durham officials wanted to dam the Eno to create a new reservoir for the city’s drinking water supply, but the Nygards, who lived by the river, fought to preserve it as wilderness parkland. Margaret, in particular, became the public face of the effort.

Margaret Nygard was one of the founding members of the Association for the Preservation of the Eno River Valley. The public hikes that the group helped organize became a model for river conservation in North Carolina and beyond. photograph by NC DIVISION OF PARKS AND RECREATION

She lobbied city officials, spoke out at public meetings, led nature hikes and canoe outings, and conducted wildlife inventories, all to shine a spotlight on the river and its many attributes. Public support for Margaret’s cause overflowed, and the city ditched its reservoir plans.

Even better, Margaret’s efforts ultimately led to the development of Eno River State Park, which opened in 1975. It was a community effort, of course, but the Eno River faithful will never forget their true patron saint.

This story was published on Mar 28, 2022

Jimmy Tomlin

Tomlin has been a features writer and columnist for the High Point Enterprise since 1990. His writing has won numerous state, regional, and national awards.