About the Blog
This blog is the story of our state as seen through the lens of North Carolina transportation history. It is a companion to the public television documentary Moving North Carolina.
Moving North Carolina: The Documentary and Moving North Carolina: The Blog both tell the same story: How the evolution of transportation in North Carolina shaped our state. Both cover a gamut of transportation modes from from ancient trading paths to modern superhighways. And both go beyond the mechanics of evolving mobility to illuminate the very human elements of the story. In that sense, they complement each other, but…
While the blog and the documentary tell the same story, they are very different experiences.
The public television documentary takes you for an entertaining ride on which you simply sit back and enjoy the scenery as 300 years of history fly by. The blog, on the other hand, puts you in the driver’s seat. It lets you explore the terrain on your own. Wander down the trail of any topic you find intriguing. Move at your own pace. And linger for a closer look wherever you wish.
Unlike the linear, chronological arc of the documentary, the blog will be a collection of seemingly random vignettes. Articles will hopscotch through our history with no predictable sequence of time frame, geography, or topic. You might think of the blog as a mosaic. Each blog post will be one discrete tile that allows the reader to savor the details of a historic scene, an event, or a human experience. But as the self-contained tiles accumulate over the coming weeks, collectively they will begin to coalesce into a colorful mural that depicts a panoramic view of the vital role of transportation in North Carolina history.
The blog will offer more archival images and more time to savor them
Both blog and documentary feature archival photographs and images drawn from public and private collections across the state and beyond. In the video documentary, the images sweep by as the story catapults forward in time. But viewing the blog, you can linger over an interesting photograph, examining, studying, savoring. In addition, many wonderful photos and illustrations could not be used in the broadcast because they did not measure up to the strict technical demands of high-definition television. But they look great on a computer screen, and you will see them in this blog.
More stories told in more detail
Free of the time constraints of broadcast television, the blog will add rich detail to stories glossed over in the video, and it will introduce entirely new stories and characters. Many stories we researched to be part of the documentary were cut from the final television version because of the need to keep the show at one hour in length. But this blog has no such limitation. Stories, personalities, anecdotes, and archival photographs edited out of the video will live again on this site. In addition, the blog’s many external links will open up even more avenues of exploration beyond the blog.
And more of the human side of transportation
Much of the material edited out of the video was in the form of comments by period observers and participants, and it was a significant loss. Quotations taken from personal letters, journals, memoirs, and newspapers offer human insights and perspectives that transcend bare facts and statistics. They add color and texture to our understanding of times that we cannot personally experience. They go beyond the story of how we have moved to illuminate the humanity inherent in why we have moved.
For the best experience, watch the documentary to get the big picture. Then take a deep dive into the blog.
Who is behind Moving North Carolina?
My name is Michael Sheehan, and I created Moving North Carolina. I produced and wrote the documentary, and I am solely responsible for this blog.
As a television producer/writer, I am always looking for good stories to tell – especially North Carolina stories. Several years ago, having read some materials on the historic effects of transportation on people’s lives, I began looking into the history of transportation in North Carolina from ancient trading paths of the indigenous peoples to modern superhighways. What I discovered was a fascinating tale, not so much about the mechanics and infrastructure of North Carolina transportation history – as interesting as that can be – but about the people whose lives were affected by their ability, or their inability, to move across the land.
Captivated by these very human stories, I set out to create Moving North Carolina, a public television documentary that would illuminate how improving mobility is a critical thread woven through the tapestry of North Carolina history. After a full year of research, I felt it would take a three hour mini-series to do justice to the wealth of material available, and I began to write that series. In the end, budget constraints and the demands of UNCTV’s broadcast schedule conspired to limit the documentary, which I had named Moving North Carolina, to a scant one hour in length. That required me to make many hard choices about which stories could be told and which, to use the film term, “ended up on the cutting room floor.” This blog is my chance to share those “lost” stories with you.