Happy Friday everyone!
If you’ve been following the Fact Friday series for a while, you may know I’ve touched on the significance of the railroad construction to Charlotte’s development a few times, and first brushed on Charlotte’s first railroad in Fact Friday 25. Today, we’ll do a deeper dive. Get your swimsuits!
In the late 1840s, the leaders of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and those of Columbia, South Carolina (just 93 miles, 1.5 hrs south of Charlotte on I-77) agreed to build a railroad that would link the two growing southern cities. The Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad was Charlotte’s first passenger train. It arrived on October 21, 1852. Although Charlotte’s population at the time was only about 1200 residents, over 20,000 people from Mecklenburg County and the surrounding area greeted the arrival of the “iron horse.” A great celebration took place at the uptown Charlotte Female Academy (now known as Queens University of Charlotte) with the Columbia Band, speeches by railroad officials, barbeque and fireworks.
By 1854, the North Carolina Railroad had built a railroad to Charlotte from the north that would eventually connect Charlotte to the growing national infrastructure. The railroad system grew rapidly after the 1850s and by the 1890s uptown Charlotte also had a system of electric streetcars that served until their replacement by motorbuses in the 1930s. Charlotte’s present stature as an international transportation center stems from the vision of early 19th century Charlotte and Mecklenburg County residents.
Until next week!
Email me at chris@704Shop.com if you have interesting Charlotte facts you’d like to share or just to provide feedback!
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass