Sunday, January 31, 2010

Western North Carolina Transportation

"Until 1880, the visitor to Asheville was compelled to travel the last leg of his journey by stage-coach, private horse-drawn vehicle or horseback. Travelers from considerable distances proceeded as far as they could on existing railroads and then moved from these railroads by horse-drawn transportation to Asheville.

The North Carolina Railroad, running from Goldsboro through Raleigh, Greensboro and Salisbury to Charlotte, was chartered in 1849, started in 1851 and completed in January,1856. At Goldsboro, the N. C. Railroad connected with the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad. 1858, the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad, connecting Goldsboro with Newbern and Morehead City was completed.

These connecting railroads made it possible for the visitor from the eastern part of the state to travel by train as far as Charlotte. The register reveals the effect which this railroad service had in increasing travel to Asheville from the Piedmont and coastal regions.

The Wilmington, Charlotte and Rutherford Railroad was started in 18[?] and had been completed as far as Lincolnton by the time of the outbreak of the Civil War.

The Western North Carolina Railroad was incorporated in 1845. The construction of this railroad which was to connect Asheville with Salisbury was attended with many delays. The progress was so slow that the railroad tracks had reached only the vicinity of Morganton at the outbreak of the Civil War.

Construction was resumed after the War but the railroad had only reached Old Fort by 1869. For a long time Old Fort represented the rail terminus from which visitors from the East proceeded to Asheville by stage coach or private horse-drawn vehicle. Most of this travel was through Swannanoa Gap and not through Hickory Nut Gap. The road was completed to Ashevil1e in 1881.

The attached map pictures the various railroad lines as they existed at the time of the conclusion of the Civil War and not at the time of the outbreak. For military reasons there was much railroad construction during the conflict. For instance, the railroad, connecting Greensboro with Danville was built during the War. This link was constructed to provide rail transportation from North Carolina to the capital of the Confederacy. It was needed to provide movement of troops and supplies to the battle areas of Virginia."*

*Notes by D.H. Ramsey

Source: Manuscript Register for Sherrill's Inn Collection, D. Hiden Ramsey (Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville (M94.1.1, M94.1.2)).


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