Today's highways pass over our states many rivers on bridges so efficient that the driver is scarcely conscious of the flowing water below. But before bridges were common – that is, through most of our North Carolina history – crossing a river often meant relying on a private ferry, an indispensable component of travel all across our state for hundreds of years.
In 1849, legislation created The North Carolina Railroad – at least on paper. But before tracks could actually be laid, someone had to decide exactly where the line would run. Some of those decisions were driven by engineering considerations. Some decisions were shaped by demographics. And some decisions – we should not be surprised – were influenced by the voices of those with money and power.