Friday May 21, 2010 | History of Trains in Charlotte

May 21, 2010 at 8:45 am | Posted in Coming Up | 5 Comments

In 1840 Charlotte was a tiny, unimportant town of less than 5,000 people, but city leaders knew a way to fix that. They connected to a railroad that went through Columbia to Charleston. That single act has done more to put Charlotte on the map than anything else according to our guest, historian Walter Turner. We explore the history and importance of trains in Charlotte. All aboard for a look at the past, present and future of Charlotte’s railways.
Walter Turner
– Historian, North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation

  • Event  |  Free talk on “Railroads Past & Future” at the Duke Mansion, Sunday May 23rd at 3:00pm. 704.714.4400 for more information.

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  1. Can you talk about the Perly-Crockett RailRoad that ran from Marion, NC to the peak of Mt. Mitchell in the late 19th Century/ early 20th Century. I think this was a narrow gauge rail that was used primarily to transport lumber down the mountain.

  2. Your guest has been incorrect in several areas. The definition of high speed is not as he stated among other things. Trains run at the speeds he stated today in the USA. In NC the max speed for Amtrak is 79 on the roads it traverses. The Northeast corridor is higher than that as pertains to speeds for Amtrak.

  3. I enjoyed your program on trains this morning. I grew up riding the Southern Railroad throughout NC, SC, and up to Washington. A while back, before the economic downturn, I heard that the state was considering a train from Asheville to Wilmington. I got very excited, because I have children who live in Wilmington. I thought the train would probably go through Hickory where I live. Now that idea seems to have gone away. I hope it is not dead forever.

  4. The railroad was the premier emerging technology in the midst of the industrial revolution. Had the several lines not been built through what we now call Charlotte they would have brought business opportunity somewhere else. Railroads were subsidized with public taxation, seizure or right of way and adjacent property, the allowance of price setting and monopoly syndicates. Some of the first effective union actions were taken around the mistreatment of labor by railroad magnates.

    Although workers are poorly organized today we continue to see energy conglomerates, banks and speculative cabals, infotainment technologies and diversionary spectacles involuntarily subsidized by environmental plunder, taxation, human rights denial and consumer rights suppression. It makes Charlotte no greater to recount the inevitable and call it historic.

    Trains are fun like watching a space shuttle launch. They also haul mountaintop coal that is poisoning the environment. It feels plenty different to be holed up in a little shack beside the tracks than to be in a sleeper compartment awaiting breakfast prepared by Pullman’s Uncle Toms. There remains an energy conserving place for railroads but Charlotte has not embraced it. If we can’t learn from the fallabilities of technology and the bitter externalities and injustices they have produced it is pointless to recount their advance. Until the old ugly stepsister Amtrak quits blocking traffic on North Tryon and North Graham no reform is in sight. (Charlotte-styled planning consists of insuring that all the entitled parties get their cut. Come back General Sherman and foul their wealth supremacist rails.)

  5. The NC Transportation Museum is one of my favorite places to visit. I would highly recommend a day trip there (and feel free to make a donation while you’re there :-)). Awesome experience.

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