Welcome to the Moving North Carolina blog.

This blog – like the public television documentary from which it emerged – offers a fresh perspective on North Carolina history: it tells the panoramic story of our state as a tale of evolving and improving mobility.

North Carolina transportation history – from ancient footpaths to superhighways – is a saga of vehicles and vessels; of animals and engines; of rivers, canals, rails and roads. But far deeper than that, it is a very human story. It is the story of the people who used those modes of transportation to arrive here, to populate the countryside, to prosper, and to coalesce into one special state. Moving North Carolina is the story of how we got here and why we live where we do. It is the story of who we are.

Here’s what you can do on this blog:

  • Click below on one of the most recent posts to read the full story.
  • Browse or search the entire collection on the Searchable Archive page.
  • Peek behind the curtain on how the blog originated on the About The Blog page.
  • Watch a preview of the Public Television documentary version of Moving North Carolina and purchase a DVD or Blu-ray disc on The Documentary page.
  • Comment on any post (at the bottom of the post) or leave general feedback on the Comment page.
A bateau on the Haw River loaded with cotton bales

Bateaux Ruled the Rivers

When rivers were our superhighways, open, shallow draft boats called bateaux did the heavy lifting that drove North Carolina’s economy. They transported the bounty of upland farms to markets on the coast, and they returned with manufactured goods, coffee and sugar.

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Hay wagon on a plank road

Plank Road Fever

In the mid-1800s, North Carolina was gripped by an acute case of plank road fever. By lifting travelers above the omnipresent ruts and mires, wooden turnpikes promised to speed travel, to stimulate commerce, and to bring big profits to the companies that built and owned them.

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A bicycle club in Oxford NC circa 1900

Bicycles Led The Way

When automobile drivers in North Carolina finally started to motor down good roads in the 1920s, they owed a debt of thanks to ardent bicyclists of the 1880s. Bicycle enthusiasts were early activists for what would become the Good Roads Movement.

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