WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The early 1800's saw Wilmington as a port city that was bringing in goods, but needed an easy way to get them to and from the area. Activists drummed up some support for possible railroads, and had to overcome a number of skeptics and the elements to get it rolling.
"Enormous undertaking," says Mark Koenig of the Wilmington Railroad Museum. "There was obviously a lot of surveying that needed to be done through lands that were basically virgin forests. Trying to attract investors that weren't altogether sold on this newfangled way of transportation (was hard)."
When the Wilmington and Weldon was completed in 1840, it was the longest continuous railroad in the world at 161 of track. "Instead of taking 3 or 4 days to get to Virginia you could make the trip in a day," adds Koenig.
The railroad industry allowed Wilmington to boom and grow, and would actually shape and create towns along its path northward. These stations along the way were the foundation for places like Castle Hayne, Rocky Points, Wallace, Goldsboro, and many more.
The fame of the Wilmington and Weldon may have come via Robert E. Lee who saw the railway as the "lifeblood of the Confederacy."
If you'd like to learn more about the rich history of railroads in our community you can visit the Wilmington Railroad Museum on Nutt St in downtown Wilmington.