Welcome to the Blog
This is the first post in a weekly blog that will help you see North Carolina history in a unique and refreshing way.
Where this blog started
There are many ways of looking at North Carolina’s long and colorful history. This NC history blog and the public television documentary from which it grew both examine our history through the lens of transportation. As transportation evolved from ancient trading paths to superhighways, ripples of change swept through our culture, our economy, and even our geography. Mike Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University explains why improving mobility matters.
Over the sweep of history, a strong link can be seen between advancements in transportation and improvements in the economy. Faster, more reliable, versatile, and less expensive (per mile traveled) methods of moving both people and products are keys to an expanding economy and higher standard of living.
With the blog, you are in the driver's seat.
The blog and the documentary tell the same story of how transportation shaped our state, but the blog adds two important new dimensions.
First, where the documentary was a lightening-paced chronological journey across 300 years, the blog is an opportunity for a deeper dive into far more detail, at your own pace. You might think of it as a mosaic. Each blog post will be one discrete tile that captures a historic scene, event, or human experience. But as those tiles accumulate over the coming weeks, collectively they will begin to coalesce into a sweeping mosaic mural of North Carolina history.
And second, unlike the documentary, this blog allows you the reader to use your own initiative to explore topics of interest. Your own interests might lead you, for example, to immerse yourself in topics like railroads, or steam boats, or historic personalities. Explore, or skip over. When you find something interesting, linger and savor. With the blog, you are in the driver’s seat.
For more background, see About The Blog. If you are interested in viewing a trailer for the documentary, see The Documentary. From that page, you can also purchase a DVD or Blu-ray version of the documentary. This is a great way to get the big picture while you deep dive into the details of the blog.
What lies down the road
In the weeks ahead, this blog will be a window into North Carolina history as you have never experienced it. You will see a caravan of transportation infrastructure, propulsion, and conveyance. There will be trails, rivers, roads, plank turnpikes, canals, rails, and highways. There will be human feet, horses, oxen, and motors powered by steam, electricity and internal combustion. And there will be rafts, wagons, stage coaches, bateaux, steam boats, railroads, bicycles, buggies, horseless carriages, automobiles, and aircraft.
But most important, there will also be the people who moved to and across (and sometimes from) our land using those technologies. The mechanics of transportation are fascinating, but that story pales in comparison to the human experience. Because transportation is at its core a human story. In North Carolina, that experience included the travails of arriving here, the choice of where to settle down, the frustration of inability to reach markets, the vision of how improved mobility could lead to economic progress, and the embracing or resisting of new ways to move across the land. The men and women who shared these – and other – transportation experiences are the backbone of our story. There will be visionaries and reactionaries, heroes and scoundrels, the celebrated and the unsung. You will see and hear them on this blog, and you may be surprised at who shows up to have their say.
We hope you enjoy the blog, and we hope you will participate in it.
If you love North Carolina and are interested in who we are as a people and as a state, we think you will enjoy this Moving North Carolina blog. It is also our hope that you will go beyond reading it to participate in it. Please help spread the word by sharing the blog with others who might find it interesting; they can find it at www.movingnorthcarolina.net.
And please feel free to comment on any post, to share local knowledge or perspective on a topic, to suggest transportation-related topics, or to make suggestions on how to improve the blog. You can comment on specific posts at the bottom of any post (including this one). Or you can leave general feedback on the Comment page. I am listening, and I look forward to hearing from you.