Settled in 1748 by the Scotch Irish,Charlotte was named for George III's queen. On May 20,1775, Charlotte patriots signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and help set the stage for the Revolutionary War. The Declaration was the first formal document declaring the colonie's independence from England and was used as a model for the Declaration of Independence of 1776. Because of the role it playedduring the war,British General Lord Cornwillis called the city a "hoenet's nest". The Charlotte Hornets,a National Basketball Association team,took its name from that remark. Charlotte,North Carolina's largest city,has grown to become a hub for distribution,sales,manufacturing and finance in the South. Between Charlotte and Selma,the trains travel over the tracks of the North Carolina Railroad,completed on Lanuary 30,1856,was reponsible for much of the settlement and economic growth of region.
The community was established in the early 1800's. Note the old houses visible from the train.
The train is now in Cabarrus County. Harrisburg, first known as Harris Depot, grew up along the railroad. You can see some of the earliest buildings from the train.
On the west side of the train is a textile mill built by Warren G. Coleman in 1896. It was the first mill in the South capitalized,owned and operated by African Americans. By now you probably have noticed the red clay soil that is present throughout the piedmont ("foot of the mountains"). As the rock that underlines this region it erodes and weathers, iron compounds in the rock oxidize,turn red,and decompose into fine particles,imparting a red color to the clay.
Concord,the county seat of Cabarrus County,was incorporated in 1798. The city was named when a dispute between German and Scotch-Irish settlers over a site for the town was settled harmoniously. Textiles are important to the local economy,and Barber-Scotia College is located here. Barber-Scotia,established in 1867 as a Presbyterian seminary for black women,was one of North Carolina's pioneer institutions in training leaders for educational and social service. The first of an extensive series of mills,owned and operated by James W.Cannon in 1887. On a Sunday morning in 1799,twelve-year-old Conard Reed, playing hooky from church,found a seventeen-pound gold nugget in Little Meadow Creek near Concord. The first gold rush in the United States began shortly thereafter. Charlotte became America's gold center,and North Carolina was the sole supplier of gold to the Philadelphia Mint until 1829. In 1837,the goverment opened a mint in Charlotte to use the North Carolina gold. The mint was closed the day North Carolina seeded from the Union.
Kannapolis began as a mill village in 1907 and grew to be the largest unincorporated city in the nation. Its name is Greek, meaning"city of looms". It was incorporated in 1984 and is the location of a large Fieldcrest Cannon textile mill. Fieldcrest Cannon Mills is the largest producer of household textiles in the world. Cannon Mills,a predecessor of Fieldcrest Cannon,pioneered the manufacture of towels;thus Kannapolis has been nicknamed "Towel City". On the east side of the train are houses of the former mill village;on the west side you will see the Williamsburg-style downtown buildings and the textile mill.
Landis,located in Rowan County,was incorporated in 1901. A textile mill was Landis'first business. The town was named for Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis who had imposed a $29 million fine on Standard Oil at the time the community was searching for a name. The railroad station oh the west side of the train has been restored to its original appearance and is now a museum.
China Grove tooks its name from the chinaberry trees that grew in the vicinity. It is also a textile town founded in 1823 and incorporated in 1889. The first mail carried on Rural Free Delivery (RFD) route in North Carolina was dispatched from China Grove on October 23,1896.
The maximum speed for trains in North Carolina is 79 mph,and under normal operating conditions the train will be traveling that speed now.
On the east side of the train south of the station,you will see a National Cemetery where 12,391 Union soldiers are buried. This cemetery is on the land that was part of the site of a major Confederate Government prisoner-of-war compound during the Civil War. Salisbury is the county seat of Rowan County. The Spanish Mission-style railroad station (built in 1907)has been converted to an office building and restored to its original appearance. The railroad track on the west side of the train leads to Asheville.
This is the site of Southern Railway's former Spencer Yards and Shops. The shop cpmplex,built at the turn of the century,covered 160 acres of land and was named for Samuel Spencer,the first president of the Southern Railway System (1894-1906). The railroad was a major employer during Salisbury's early days. On the west side of the train is the site of the North Carolina Transportation Museum. The museum,which is housed in several of the Spencer Shops buildings,offers displays and train rides,and is well worth a visit.
This river was originally called the Sapona because of the Sapona Indian settlements nearby. A short distance upriver is a cave where Daniel Boone is said to have hidden once from the Indians. Downriver was a ford,called Trading Ford,that was on an Indian path running across the central part of Northern Carolina. It was at this location that General Nathaniel Greene's army crossed the Yadkin during the Revolutionary War. During the Civil War,there was a Confederate army fort on the hills on the north side of the river to protect the railroad bridge. At this location on April 12,1865,Southern troops turned back Stoneman's Union cavalry which had been conducting raids throughout Western North Carolina.
Dr.William Holt named the community of Linwood for his plantation. West of the train is the Norfolk Southern Railway's new Spencer Yard,one of the most modern frieght yards in the country. It is used to classify frieght cars destined to all parts of the Southeast.
Lexington,the county seat of Davidson County,produces lumber,furniture,textiles and hoseiry. The town was named for the Revolutionary War Battle of Lexington, Massachusetts. A style of barbecuing pork shoulders over hickory coals originated here in the 1920's. Many consider Lexington-style barbecue to be the best in the state.
Thomasville,founded in 1852,is the site of several major furniture plants. Look for the world's largest Duncan Phyfe chair on the west side of the train while passing through the downtown area. This chair has had two incarnations. The first chair,built of pine in 1922,was 13.5 feet tall. By the 1930's the pine had decayed, and the chair was dismantled. A new steel chair,18 feet tall,was built in 1951. The railroad station was built in 1870 and is one of the oldest surving frame depots in the state.
High Point,located in Guilford County,was so named because it is the highest point on the North Carolina Railroad between Goldsboro and Charlotte. Surveyors of the railroad noted the elevation when they crossed the old Salmen-Fayetteville plank road,drove a stake at the intersection,and labeled it "high point". The railroad station (built in 1907)is located at this point in the center of downtown,but is not visible from the train because the tracks were lowered below street level in the late 1930's. The town was chartered in 1859,but the area was first settled by Quakers during the 1700's. The Religious Society of Friends was given the name "Quakers"by a British judge who heard a statment by the founder of the group that they "trembled at the word of the Lord". The city is known as the "Furniture Capital of the World". A major furniture market is held here each April and October. High Point is home to an internationally-known library devoted exclusively to books on furniture. The city is also the world's largest hosiery producer. One mile south of the station on the east side of the tracks is the Thomas Built Buses plant. This plant built the streetcars used in New Orleans (and made famous in Tennessee William's play,"A Streetcar Named Desire"). Thomas now produces most of the yellow school buses seen on North Carolina streets and highways.
First settled in 1770,Jamestown was the states leading Quaker community during the 18th and 19th centuries. The town was named for its founder,James Mendenhall. In the Quaker fashion of humility,only his first name was used. GREENSBORO MILE 286.7 Greensboro is named for General Nathaniel Greene,a Revolutionary War officer whose troops fought the British at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse on March 15,1781. This was General Cornwallis' last major battle before surrendering at Yorktown seven years later. Greensboro,North Carolina's third largest city,is the county seat of Guilford County and a major commercial center. It is also the birthplace of the First Lady Dolley Madison and writer O.Henry (William S.Porter). An historical maker on the east side marks the location at which the Confederate cabinet,while fleeing south by train from Union forces occupied a parked railroad car from April 11-15,1865. Greensboro served as a temporary capital of the Confedercay. Jefferson Davis met with General Joseph E.Jhonston here ang agreed to allow him to negotiate an armistic with the Union army. While passing through downtown Greensboro,you will see the Jefferson Standard building,a modified Gothic and Renaissance Revival building constructed in 1923 and since inlarged. To the east is Old Greensborough,a revitalized commercial district.
McCleansville is a small town in Guilford County named for a pioneer family of Ulster Scots who settled here.
This town is located on the line between Guilford and Alamance Counties. It was established in 1855 and named for Joseph Gibson (1785-1857),a large landowner who also was engaged to do contracting and grading for the North Carolina Railroad.
This small town in western Alamance County was originally named Mill Point since it served as a freight depot for shipping mill products manufactured nearby. Elon College was established here by the Christian Church and opened in 1890. The town was incorporated in 1893. Elon College took its name from the Hebrew word for "oak" in recognition of the large number of oak trees on its site. The first buildings burned in 1923,but rebuilding began immediately. The campus is visible on the north side of the train. The national archives of the American Theater Organ Society are housed here.
The town was originally named Company Shops for the railroad car repair shops built there by the North Carolina Railroad in 1851. The name "Burlington" was selected in a contest,and the town was renamed in 1887. The shops were moved to Spencer in 1896. Burlington Mills,now one of the world's largest textile manufactures,was founded here in 1923. Today the manufactures textiles,hosiery,paper boxes and electronics equipment. The railroad station a Victorian Tudor building,has been relocated from the railroad tracks and is visible from the south side of the train. On May 17,1771,in a field six miles southwest of Burlington,a group of framers (named the Regulators) battled forces dispatched by Royal Governor William Tryon. The Regulators had challenged the malpractices of local office holders,but were defeated by Tryon's troops. One of the Regulators was hanged at the battlefield,and six were later executed in Hillsborough.
Graham,the county seat of Alamance County,was laid out in 1849. It was named for William A.Graham,governor of North Carolina from 1845 until 1849. During Graham's term as governor,the legislature passed a proposal to build the North Carolina Railroad.
This area was settled as early as 1747. Textile mills were later built along the river for which the town was named.
Mebane,a furniture-and textile-producing town,was established in 1854. The rown was named for Alexander Mebane,a Brigadier General of North Carolina Militia and a member of Congress in the 1790s. The mural painted on the side of the building north of the train tracks depicts Mebane in the 1940s and includes a Southern Railway passenger train built by a steam locomotive. Between Mebane and Hillsborough,the train route parallels the route of a colonial trading path (dating from the 17th century)from Petersburg,Virginia to the Catawba and Waxhaw Indian settlements in Carolina.
Hillsborough,the county seat of Orange Coutny and an important colonial town,was first settled as an Indian village named Acconeech. White settlers arrived in 1754,and the town was successively named Orange,Corbinton and Chidsburg. Finally the town was named for the Earl of Hillsborough,British Secretary of State for the American colonies. It was the focal point for the Regulator movement,an early insrrection which was an important step in precipitating the American Revolution. During the Revolution,the town served briefly as the seat of state goverment.
This river took its name from a Tuscarora Indian word,e-eon,meaning "a long way".
During the early part of the 20th century,this railroad junction was the transfer point for railroad passengers en route to the University of North Carolina at Chaple Hill. The line to Carrboro is on the south side of the train.
The train is now in Durham County. The Bennett Place is located approximately one-half mile north of the train. On April 26,1865,Confederate General Joseph E.Johnson formally surrendered to General William T.Sherman,bringing the Civil War to a close in North Carolina. Later surrenders in Alabama on May 4 and New Orleans on May 26 disbanded the Confederate forces. The tobacco industry in Durham (and the entire state) increased when Union and Confederate were introduced to "bright leaf" tobacco which they smoked at the Bennett Place while waiting for the surrender to be signed.
Durham was named for Dr.Barlett who donated the land for the first railroad station in 1851. The campus of Duke University is visible on the south (Duke Chaple with its 200-foot-tall Gothic tower is prominent) and north (the Georgian-style East Campus) sides of the train. The tobacco industry has been important in Durham's history;tobacco warehouses and factories are visible on both sides of the train. Some warehouses have been converted to shops and stores. On the south side of the train west of downtown Durham,you can see the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Building. This firm is the largest African-American-managed financial institution in the world. The building was the first highrise building in the United States to be built of prestressed post tensioned concrete. The architectural firm Shreve,Lamb and Harmon,designers of the Empire State Building,provided by the concept for the Central Carolina Bank Building that may be seen on the north side of the train in the downtown area. East of the station,notice the Bull Durham Tabacco Factory (constructed in 1875 and now closed) on the south side of the train. The factory's name came from the picture of a bull on jars of Coleman's mustard produce in Durham,England. The tabacco was an instant success,and the "Bull Durham" appellation became world-famous. The baseball term "bullpen" was coined because a Bull Durham Tabacco ad was painted behind the dugout of the New York Yankees.
The New York Times labeled the Research Triangle Park (RTP) as "one of the nation's most successful ventures into the concept of the geographical concetration of research facilities". The existence of the Park contributes heavily to the fact that there are more Ph.D's per capita here than in any of the nation's metropolitan areas. The 6,750 acre park area is heavily wooded,with research facilities visible from both sides of the train.
The town of Morrisville,settled in 1840,was named for the owner of the land,Jerry Morris. The train is now in Wake County.
Cary was first settled in 1863,and became one of the fastest-growing towns in North Carolina in the early 1990's. During the late 1800's,the Page-Walker Hotel servedtravelers arriving in Cary by train. The hotel,listed on the National Register of Historic Places,was built by Allison francis Page,the town's founder and first mayor. This building,now being restored to its original appearance,may be seen on the north side of the train. Passengers may catch a glimpse of Cary Elementary from the south side of the train. Originally Known as Cary Academy,the school is a half-mile from the track on Academy Street. In 1907,the academy became the first public high school in North Carolina. The railroad track joining our route from the south is CSX Transportation's line to Southern Pines and Hamlet,North Carolina;Columbia,South Carolina;and Savannah,Georgia.
Raleigh,named for Sir Walter Raleigh,was selected as the state Capital in 1792 and is now North Carolina's second-largest city. West Raleigh,the train passes the State Fairgrounds. The building with the unusual shape is Dorton Arena,built in 1953 as a parabolic suspension structure and recogized worldwide as an architectural triumph. The train also passes through the campus of North Carolina State University. On the south side of the train is Central Prison,North Carolina's only maximum security prison. East of the station,look to the north for a fine view of the downtown area.
This area was first settled in the early 1800's. The town was incorporated in 1883,taking its name from its founder H.C Garner.
Clayton,in Johnston County,was incorporated in 1869 and originally known as Stallings Station. Today it porduces textiles and wearing apparel.
The Neuse River,formed in Durham County at the confluence of the Eno and Flat Rivers,flows to Pamlico Sound. East of the Neuse,the train travels in the Coastal Plain. Here the soil is sandy and the land is whiter and flatter than in the piedmont's rolling hills.
Selma was established in 1867 when the need for a depot on the North Carolina Railroad developed. On May 1 of that year,acreage surrounding the station was sold as building lots during a barbecue and dance. In 1892,the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad was built through Selma,crossing the North Carolina Railroad at the present passenger station. The building was constructed in 1924 to serve both railroads. West of Selma,the train is on the North Carolina Railroad;north of Selma it travels on the tracks of CSX Transportation.
This area was settled in 1890 and took its name from its small size. From this point northward,agriculture is an important part of the local economy.
This river rises in Franklin County and flows into the Neuse River near Goldsboro.
Settled in 1875, this town was named for J.I.Kenly,offcial of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.
This Wilson County town was originally Know as Luca's crossroads. Around 1883,Josephus Daniels,then editor of a newspaper in Wilson,is said to have named the town for his Brother's wife and her two sisters, Lulie,Carrie and Mary Borden. A freight train derailment in 1903 destroyed the town's first depot, and shortly thereafter, several diamonds were found near the railroad tracks. Townspeople speculated that the gems must have come from the train, although records did not indicate that any cars had been carrying diamonds. A frenzied search ensued,but no further diamonds were found.
This small river was named for a nearby Tuscarora Indian village,Cotechey. The railroad track joining the route on the east was part of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad. At 161.5 miles in length, it was the longest railroad in the world when it was completed in 1840. Between here and Weldon, North Carolina, the train follows the route of this railroad. Until the construction of the railroad, Contentnea Creek was one of the few transportation routes in this area.
Wilson boasts America's largest tobacco market;produces concrete pipe,furniture and textiles;and is home to a large antique market. Tobacco is the only major crop in the United States that is still sold to the highest bidder through a formal auction. At one time, Wilson was the largest bright leaf tobacco market in the world. The well-proportioned,Mission-style railroad station,built in 1924,was designed by Wilmington architect A.M. Griffin who worked with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. The brick building (with storefronts along the first floor) located across the tracks from the station was the Terminal Inn, built adbout 1920. Behind the station is the Cherry Hotel, built 1919-1923 for Rufus A.Cherry. Four blocks north of the station on the west of the tracks is Woodard Circle. Between 1898 and 1971, this area was one of Wilson's most Fashionable neighorhoods. The town was originally the settlement of Hickory Grove on the stagecoach route between Raleigh and Tarboro. The arrival of the railroad and the establishment of the community of Toisnot Depot caused local land and property values to increase. In 1849 the town was incorporated and named for a distinguished citizen of Tarboro and state legislator, Captain Louis D.Wilson (1789-1847). Wilson had died of yellow fever at Vera Cruz during the War with Mexico. The Wilson-Rocky Mount area is also the home to another style of barbecued pork-claimed by some to be superior to Lexinton-style.
In 1873, the town of Toisnot was established on this site, taking its name from Tuscarora Indian town. The name was changed to Elm City in 1891 and back to Toisnot in 1895. The railroad and the post office refused to adopt this name change, however, and the town was once again named Elm City in 1913. Relocation of the post office to Elm City was the death knell for the town Joyner's, formerly located one mile north of here. A major firs in 1884 destroyed the downtown buildings;they were rebuilt in brick as you see them today.
Sharpsburg is located at the corners of Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson Counties. It was settled in 1851 and named for an early settler, John Jay Sharp.
Rock Mount, established in 1816, took its name from the rocky mounds and leges along the Tar River at the fall line. Historically, the city's economy has been based on ariculture-particularly tobacco production and processing, and the railroad, which maintained a large repair shop complex here for many years. Since World War II, the economy has diversified extensively. Jim Thorpe, a native American athlete and star of the 1922 Olympics, made his professional baseball debut with a team called the Rocky Mount Railroaders in 1909 at a ball park located one quater mile west of the railroad tracks just south of the station. The railroad is the boundary line between Nash and Edgecombe Counties in the center of Rocky Mount. Passengers have fine view of the downtown business district with its early 20th century buildings displaying a variety of architectural styles. One building on the east side of the train is Kyser's son, Kay, was a popular band leader in the 1940s. Tobacco warehouses are located at the north end of the commercial district. The Romanesque-style railroad station at the south end of the commercial district was built in 1903 by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.