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.
Repairing a road with primitive equipment

The Corvée

Under the corvée system, North Carolina constructed and maintained roads by requiring citizens who lived along the route to turn out for work. It was a practice that dated back to the
Roman Empire, and it lived on in the United States until 1913.

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A flat-bottom barge on the Dismal Swamp Canal

The Dismal Swamp Canal – Splash & Ripple

After 63 years of speculation on feasibility of a Dismal Swamp Canal, and after four years of acrimonious debate on government’s role in such an undertaking, actual excavation began. There was no civil engineer engaged. There was no understanding of how many canal locks would be required. There was no estimate of how much the project would cost. And yet…

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A map of the Great Dismal Swamp

The Dismal Swamp Canal – Genesis

With no quality seaports available to them in North Carolina, colonial plantation owners looked longingly at the bustling port of Norfolk as a jumping-off point for external markets. But how could they transport goods north? Hey, why not dig a canal? All that stood in the way was 2,200 square miles of “… a vast Body of mire and Nastiness.”

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Please check weekly for new posts. And if you like what you see. please help spread the word.