North Carolina Highway 147 is a limited-access freeway that connects I-85 with Toll Route NC 540 in northwestern Wake County. The older, toll-free portion of the four-lane route—known as the Durham Freeway or the . "Buck" Dean Expressway—traverses downtown Durham and extends through Research Triangle Park to I-40. The Durham Freeway is often used as a detour or alternate route for I-40 through southwestern Durham the Chapel Hill area in cases of traffic accident, congestion or road construction delays. The tolled portion of NC 147, called the Triangle Expressway—North Carolina's first modern toll road when it opened to traffic in late 2011—continues past I-40 to Toll NC 540. Both Toll NC 147 and Toll NC 540 are modern facilities which collect tolls using transponders and license plate photo-capture technology.
Clayton was also recognized, in the words of the 1890 writer, as a "high bred little town." Laura Elizabeth Lee Battle's memoir, Forget-Me-Nots of the Civil War (1909), describes a racetrack on the outskirts of Clayton, complete with grandstand, erected for a state horseracing tournament in 1869. Competitors in regal costumes and throngs of visitors came from near and far. The columns of the Smithfield Herald and the short-lived Clayton Bud (1883-1887) abound with accounts of musical performances, speeches, debates, and social events "of a high order" in the late 19th century. Clayton's private academy, known variously as the Clayton Institute, the Clayton Academy, the Utopian Institute, and, in the 20th century, the Clayton High School, was perhaps the greatest source of local pride. The Utopian Institute produced several high achievers from the Horne and Ellington families, including Dartmouth College professor Dr. Herman H. Home, University of Chicago professor and . ambassador William E. Dodd, Southern Baptist Convention leader and college president Dr. John E. White, internationally renowned architect Douglas Ellington, and pioneer aviator Lt. Eric Ellington.