160 Years Ago: The Railroad Comes to the Piedmont
|Image courtesy NCRC|
|Carolina Watchman, December 21, 1854.|
|Concord native, Rufus Barringer |
was a key figure in the promotion
and expansion of the NC
"the train - the Iron Horse - whose thundering tread annihilates distance and almost condenses weeks into as many hours has become an indispensable agent of commerce and travel all over our country; and that State which neglects to provide them, may be written down as obsolete and feeble. Until now, this part of NC has not enjoyed the benefits of this great revolutionary. We are in the transition to a new and better state, the age of iron and steam and the triumph of intellect and ingenuity over physical strength, a glorious triumph and worthy of man."The reporters for the Carolina Watchman spent the day of January 4, 1855 questioning the citizens on their feelings about the new railroad. The following is an excerpt fron the article that appeared in the January 11, 1855 edition:
An old gentleman from one of the Western counties came up, after having walked up and down the track for a considerable distance, and standing near the engine, with his eyes running up and down the train and now and then resting upon the iron steed which drew it in, observed, "Well I thought I knew something about railroads before, though I never saw one; but I find out now that I know nothing about them. Why just look at that platform" pointing to an open car, "they can pile as much on that thing as I could haul at 10 or 15 loads with my wagon and four horses; and they tell me that one of these engines can pull as many as 30, all loaded; and then they travel as far in an hour as I could in a whole day."As the day wore on, citizens enjoyed the barbecue, watched Professor Elliott take his balloon into the clouds and either took the train back home or found lodging in Salisbury. From the reports, by late evening, every house in Salisbury was filled with visitors staying the night. The closing statement of the article in the Watchman declared, "And so passed away the fourth of January, 1855, in Salisbury. May all live long to remember it, and to enjoy the benefits of the work then celebrated."
Copies of the Carolina Watchman are available on microfilm from 1831 to 1893 at the Concord Library Lore Local History Room.
Courtesy of the Concord Library Lore History Room and the Rowan County Public Library
1 “Barbecue: The History of an American Institution - Robert F. Moss, University of Alabama, 2010, p. 74
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