This is a graphic header showing various historic transportation images and the title Moving North Carolina, as well as the subtext, "How we got here. Why we live where we do. Who we are."

Welcome to
Moving North Carolina

This blog offers a fresh perspective on North Carolina history, telling the panoramic story of our state as a tale of evolving transportation and increasing mobility. The blog is a companion to the public television documentary of the same name.

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, why we live where we do, and what has been important to us. It is the story of who we are.

Moving North Carolina is a window through which you can view North Carolina history as you never have before.

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.
  • (Coming Soon) Subscribe and receive a weekly email with a thumbnail description of that week’s post. (And no sales pitch.) A simple click will bring you the big picture and the full story.
A preserved lock on the historic Roanoke Canal

The Roanoke Canal

When rivers were our highways, the Roanoke River system was tantalizingly close to being a 400-mile-long superhighway. It had the potential to connect a bountiful Piedmont with seaports and far-flung markets. But at the fall line, where the river tumbled down to the coastal plain, roiling, bolder-strewn rapids brought heavily laden boats to a standstill. Maybe a canal could circumvent those rough waters…

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The cover page of The Journal of the Internal Improvements Convention, 1833

Internal Improvements and the Soul of America

North Carolina’s 1800s debate over internal improvements – essentially a public policy debate over transportation infrastructure – was often a tactical battle over a specific canal, turnpike or railroad project. But it was also a broad referendum on the soul of America, and that aspect of the 1800’s debate lives on even today.

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A drawing of the steam engine "Raleigh," which ran on one of North Carolina's first railroads

North Carolina’s First Railroads, part 2

As the balance of political power in 1830s North Carolina shifted from the conservative Democratic Party to the progressive Whig party, it became apparent that after years of debate, North Carolina’s first railroads would be built. Left to be decided was where those rail lines would lie on the land and who would build them.

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