xt7p2n4zkm75 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7p2n4zkm75/data/mets.xml North Carolina Federal Writers' Project, North Carolina 1988 Compiled and written by The Federal Writers' Project of the Federal Works Agency, Work Projects Administration, for the state of North Carolina; Sponsored by North Carolina Department of Conservation and Development; With a new introduction by William S. Powell; Other contributors include: William Stevens Powell, 1919 of the North Carolina Department of Conservation and Development; xiv, xxxiv, 601 pages: 66 pages of plates, illustrated, map, 24 cm; Reprint, Originally published Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, c1939, Originally published in American guide series; Includes bibliographical references (p. 573-577) and index; Bert T. Combs Appalachian Collection; UK holds archival copy for ASERL Collaborative Federal Depository Program libraries; Call number F259 .N886 1988 books English Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press This digital resource may be freely searched and displayed in accordance with U. S. copyright laws. North Carolina Works Progress Administration Publications North Carolina: The WPA Guide to the Old North State text North Carolina: The WPA Guide to the Old North State 1988 1988 2015 true xt7p2n4zkm75 section xt7p2n4zkm75   $6* $P’
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William S. Powell, professor of
l history emeritus at the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
received his A.B., B.S. and M.A.
degrees from the University of
North Carolina. In addition to
teaching, he served in the North
Carolina Collection at the
University of North Carolina for
22 years. From 1951-58, he was
the assistant librarian and then
served as curator from 1958-73.
An active member of several
historical societies and
commissions, Powell lives in
Chapel Hill with his wife, Virginia.
Front Cover Arr:
"Engineering." One of four murals for North
Carolina State University by James McLean,
1938. Restored by the artist, 1980. Gift ot the
artist. North Carolina State University, Raleigh. A

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F. C. HARRINGTON, Commissioner
FLORENCE Kama, Assistant Commissioner
HENRY G. Ansnmzc, Director of t/ze Federal Writers' Project

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 The W PA Grade to the Old North State
Compiled and Written by _
for the State of North Carolina
Sponsored by
with a New Introduction by

  ` Y
  Copyright, 1939 North Carolina Department of
  Conservation and Development
  Copyright © University of South Carolina 1988
  Published in Columbia, South Carolina, by the
  University of South Carolina Press
  First published by the University of North Carolina
  Press, Chapel Hill, 1939
  Manufactured in the United States of America
  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  North Carolina : the WPA guide to the Old North State / compiled and  
  written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Federal Works Agency, '
  Work Projects Administration, for the state of North Carolina ; r\
ggji sponsored by North Carolina Department of Conservation and gz
if Development ; with a new introduction by William S Powell.  
gg; p. cm.
  Reprint. Originally published: Chapel Hill : University of North gg
  Carolina Press, c1939. Originally published in series: American .;
  guide series. gf
  Bibliography: p.  
  Includes index. 4,;.
  ISBN 0-87249-804-X. ISBN O-87249-605—8 (pbk.) A-I
  1. North Carolina. 2. North Carolina—Description and travel- `  
  -Guide-books. I. Federal Writers' Project (N.C.) H. North  
gl, Carolina. Dept. of Conservation and Development.
  F2s9.N886 1988 jp \
  91 7.56*0443-dc 19 88-17763 ; ‘
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I N 1939 North Czzralinm A Guide to the Old North State, was
published as an early volume in the American Guide Series.
Compiled and written by the Federal Writers` Project of the Work
Projects Administration, it was sponsored by the North Carolina
Department of Conservation and Development and published by the
University of North Carolina Press}
To some the question might occur: "Why reprint a guidebook that .
is nearly fifty years old?" The answer: Because it gives us a very close
look at North Carolina on the eve of extensive changes which forever
altered the state.
While this new printing ofthe state’s hrst guidebook may be used to
note changes that have occurred over the past halfcentury, it is certainly
not intended to be used as a pocket companion with the latest infor-
mation for a tour of the state. Highway route numbers have changed
__,r_ and, indeed, highways of four lanes and more have replaced many old
  roads. Many railroads have disappeared as have houses, churches, and
In other public structures mentioned in 1939. Notable changes ofthe past ‘
Q; half century would now hll a book the size of the original one. Cross-
»~é road communities have flourished into towns and cities, shopping malls
Q (a thing undreamed of in those far-off days) have proliferated, while
, colleges have blossomed into universities, and community colleges have _
SI spread across the state so that now no one is more than thirty miles from
E. one. Yet art galleries, museums, historic sites and parks, public and _
Q private gardens, and local craftsmen at work all exist now just as they did I
  then, and the hrst guidebook can suggest the origin of these features  
\ which have since grown large. It can also very clearly testify to changed  
j F
{P ‘ A revised edition under the editoiship of Blackwell P. Robinson was published by the  
+\ University of`North Carolina Press in 1955 omitting some of the material in the earlier  
gl edition and adding new information in many places. G
j ~}

  (vi) WILLIAM s.1>ow1zL1,
  attitudes towards race on the part ofTar Heels. The guidebook certainly
  provides basic information about many people, places, and events ofthe
  past that are as interesting and useful today in one way or another as
  ever. It can also be a handy source to answer general questions about the
  stare and perhaps even to win a wager from someone who might not
  have discovered the variety of useful information it contains. Finally,
  who has not pulled a nineteenth—century gazetteer from a shelf and
  found pleasure in looking up what was said so very long ago about
  places familiar today? Like the classic Baedeker guides of many parts of
  the world, any good guidebook grows more fascinating with age.
  What’s in the Guidebook?
  By way of introduction to North Carolina, Part I consists of Hfteen
  essays contributed by a number of specialists. Newspaper editor
  lonathan Daniels opens with "Tar Heels All" setting the stage by ex-
  plaining a bit about the state’s natural setting, its products, its people
  and their characteristics, and their attitude towards their past. Following
  this is a section devoted to the natural setting in considerable detail. The
  lay ofthe land, climate, flora, fauna, and natural resources are described
  by experts in lay language. An excellent, concise statement on the
  Indians of the North Carolina region ranges from their first contact
  with whites through the creation of the reservation for the Cherokee;
  additional contemporary information appears elsewhere in the guide-
  book, of course. The longest of these introductory essays is the one _
  devoted to the history ofNorth Carolina by Professor Hugh T. Lefler.
  As the acknowledged master of the state’s historians, he treats the
  subject chronologically and his essay rates as a superior statement in
  brief form of a complex subject. ‘
  A section devoted to the "Negroes" reviews the history of blacks in
  North Carolina from the seventeenth century to the 1930s and “tells it
  like it was." While this account is factual, generally presenting infor- l
  mation not often recorded at the time, it does not fail to point out the
  indignities inflicted upon blacks in health care, education, recreation, ,
  and public transportation. Something of the nature and signihcance of  
  this material may be suggested by the fact that it is a subject entirely  
  omitted in the 1955 revision ofthe guidebook.  
fi? i
  r   ..    ..... .  ... - . .  

As would be expected in any work dealing at length with North
Carolina, there is a careful treatment of agriculture. Early eighteenth-
century farming and the role of good farmland in enticing settlers are
discussed. The variety of crops, the influence of local farm journals,
economic and social problems, and the role ofstate and federal agencies
are also covered. As important as this subject has been to North Carolina,
it was referred to only briefly in the second edition of the guidebook.
Very appropriately, yet virtually unique even for a book of this nature,
is a detailed discussion of modes oftravel. Beginning with a description
of Indian trails through thick forests, it continues by discussing the use
of canoes and small boats of various kinds and hnally ships. The descrip-
tion of inadequate roads through woods and swamps and into the
backcountry approaching the forbidding mountains makes one wonder
how the country was ever settled by Europeans. The use of horses, carts, ·
wagons, and stagecoaches, the accommodations offered by widely
separated taverns and inns, and before the middle of the nineteenth
century the building of plank roads and railroads conjures up images
of slow progress. In the twentieth century came the Good Roads
Movement, and as this guide to the Old North State went to press at
the end of the third decade of the twentieth century, airports were just
being equipped for night flying.
lndustry and labor were treated together with both historical and
contemporary information. The varied industry of the state was em- _
phasized and the recent value of production cited. The contemporary `
concern over child labor was reflected in the nature ofthe information
presented on that subject, yet the limited influence of organized labor in
the state was only implied in statements concerning the aftermath of
unrest in textile mills.
The discussion ofpublic education briefly reviewed the subject up to
the opening of the twentieth century with most ofthe emphasis being
placed on the amount ofmoney appropriated for schools in the 1930s,
teachers’ salaries, enrollment hgures, busing, college entrance require-
ments, adult education, and the growing number of school buildings
being constructed. There also was a brief recitation of institutions of
higher education and special facilities for the handicapped in various
A section on religion, except for a Hnal paragraph with some very

  (vim WILLIAM s. Powatr,
  brief references to membership and the variety of denominations, was
  entirely historical in nature. Ranging from Thomas Harriot’s 1585
  observation of the Indians’ belief in immortality, through the role of
  Quakers and Anglicans in the early history of the colony, and with
  references to many of the smaller sects that arose in later years, this
  material nts into a general historial review of North Carolina’s past.
  The Hnal five entries in this introductory material reflect some original
  research into at least one new subject in the state’s past for consideration
  in the 1930s-sports and recreation. This must have delighted a host of
  readers who discovered it; they undoubtedly were surprised to hnd such
  a subject covered in a book of this nature. Based upon eighteenth- and
  nineteenth-century sources, accounts are given of numerous sports,
  ranging from horse racing, hunting and hshing, wrestling, tenpins, and
  assorted ball games, to card games. Many of these are described in detail.
  Under the rubric "Folkways and Folklore,” a wide range of superstitions
  and beliefs, celebration customs, traditional ballads, songs, and practices,
  and speech patterns are cited. These are timeless topics, and this material
  is just as appealing today as ever. "Eating and Drinking" is another fresh
  topic just being recognized as worthy of discussion in the 1930s. Ranging
  across the sweep of North Carolina history, the information presented
  here was drawn from travelers’ journals, family letters, tradition handed
  down for generations, and quite likely from the childhood experience of
  the author. Regional dishes or specialties, as well as food considered to
  be typical of the whole state, are discussed. So are foods especially
  appropriate for a particular season. Drinks from assorted sources-
  grapes, apples or other fruit, grains, persimmons, or some secret family ,
  concoction—found their partisans. Drinking time ranged from before j
  breakfast to just before bedtime. ,
  Perhaps consciously rising to a new plane, the section entitled “The ,
  Arts" discussed creative writing, poetry, history, biography, drama, and `
  other miscellaneous classihcations, citing authors and titles and explain- Y
  ing the objectives of many of the writers. Some of the numerous  
  periodicals that originated in the state and some other publications of  
  signihcance beyond the bounds of North Carolina to which Tar Heels  
  contributed are covered. The subject of this section is broad, and it  
  includes information on the theater, music, painting, sculpture, and  
  handicrafts. For the most part, these were topics seldom given wide  
$2; ·
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consideration in North Carolina prior to the 1930s, so they are pioneer
accounts of subjects destined soon to become signihcant. In this instance
the compilers of the guidebook were quite forward looking.
Finally the section on "Architecture” was also significant. It foretold
the coming concern for historic preservation in the state. By identifying
and describing important structures, both public and private, it fostered
an appreciation of a segment of the state’s cultural heritage heretofore
recognized by few North Carolinians. It may well have been this feature
which contributed to support for the reconstruction of Tryon Palace in
New Bern a few years later.
Thirteen Cities and Towns Worth Knowing .
The compilers of the guidebook concluded that the ten largest cities
in the state were entitled to a special treatment of their own, apart from
being featured as a stop on a longer tour. A few smaller towns were so
highly appreciated that they, too, deserved more than a casual look. To
avoid even the appearance of favoritism, these special places were treated
in alphabetical order. Asheville headed the list, followed by Chapel Hill,
Charlotte, Durham, Edenton, Elizabeth City, Fayetteville, Greensboro,
High Point, New Bern, Raleigh, Wilmington, and Vlhnston-Salem.
Leading off the section on each of the towns is a compilation of X
significant information about railroad and bus stations, city buses (the
fare ranged from 5¢ to twice that), taxis (up to four passengers for 25¢),
radio stations (only Winston—Salem boasted two—most had none at all),
sports and recreation facilities, a schedule of annual events, and sources
of additional information. g
In the more leisurely days of the 1930s towns still had a recognizable , 
“downtown" with a business section, and it was from this center that the
town developed. For each ofthe thirteen, there is a sketch map indicating  
the location of points of interest. The text that follows presents a concise  
history of the town, and then, keyed to the map, there is information  
about municipal or county buildings, churches, theaters, and libraries.  
Cemeteries, museums, parks, gardens, monuments, schools, natural  
features, homes of architectural distinction or of notable persons, some  
important businesses, and sites where signihcant events occurred are  
z 2
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  described more or less in the order that they might be encountered on a
  tour. Such facts as open hours (or an indication of those places that are
  private), fees, and suggested special arrangements for a visit are noted.
  Concluding the account of each town is a list of points ofinterest in
  the environs. It is worthy of note that visitors to Chapel Hill were
  advised that Duke University was worth a visit. But to indicate total
  impartiality, those who found themselves in Durham were advised to go
  to Chapel Hill to visit the University of North Carolina.
  Each of these delightful vignettes of a town is unique. There is no ‘
  other such concise and accurate glimpse at their history and setting.
  There also is a nostalgic aura about each entry that will make many
  readers wish they could be transported back in time to enjoy a visit
  Seeing the State in Thirty Word Tours
  Aside from this book’s use just for reading pleasure and for reference,
  it may also be used on an imaginative tour of North Carolina. The
  largest portion ofthe Guide is devoted to a carefully planned series of
  thirty tours designed to sweep across the state in dilferent directions.
  Although the numbered highways described are seldom now the main
  routes, it is still possible to Gnd them—perhaps even to enjoy them since
  they are less heavily traveled today and they lead through parts of the
  state that still have some resemblance to the rural state North Carolina —
  used to be. A reading passenger, following the precise directions in the j
  Guide, and a driving passenger, eyeing the odometer, might constitute V]
  the minimum participants in such an expedition, but the reward would r
  be worthwhile. Spotting points of interest cited fifty years ago, observing _i
  how little or how much has changed, and becoming aware of what  
  passing time has wrought can serve as an introduction to a new aspect of  
  travel. The fusion ofthe past and the present can be appreciated more  
  clearly this way than in any other.  
  The tours generally are laid out to run from north to south, and  
  usually are a little over a hundred miles in length. Some in the far west, V
  however, are as short as thirty miles, but one from east to west through  
  the middle of the state is 613 miles. It is easy enough, nevertheless, to  ,
  "join" a tour at any convenient point. Each descriptive entry for a site or A 
  a town notes the mileage from the beginning point of that tour. _ 
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Since this is a good guidebook, it contains interesting and accurate
information. Population, usually as of 1930, and altitude are standard
facts nearly always reported. The condition of roads ("graveled," for
example) and the kind ofcountry through which they pass ("a region of
cultivated Helds" or"dense woodlands") are frequently reported. Pioneer
settlements, evidence of Indian occupation, and early travel routes are
noted. Countless Civil War (very carefully referred to as the “War
between the States") sites of camps, cemeteries, skirmishes, and battles
are pointed out. Buildings worthy of IIOIC are described as to material
used in their construction, size, and use. Industries, of course, are
identihed as communities in the Depression years of the 1930s took
great pride in the advancement ofindustry. Waterfalls, mountains, and
lakes are dealt with in considerable detail. Camping, picnicking, swim-
ming, and boating facilities are pointed out. Sites worth seeing and facts A
worth knowing not directly on the route are also mentioned with
directions given to Hnd them. Entries also contain numerous cross
references to tie together related information from one subject else-
where in the book to another. Occasionally tourist homes are
mentioned, but motels in the 1930s were unknown. But above all there
is history, and the facts are clearly based on careful research. There also is
tradition and folklore, but these are distinguished from fact. The
quantity of information in this book is amazing.
In a separate section are briefentries on the Great Smoky Mountains ,
National Park and on the National Forests in the state. These appear to
have been added as an afterthought which, indeed, they may well have
been as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was not dedicated
until September 1939. A chronology of signincant events in North
Carolina and a bibliography ofsuggested readings round offthe text of `
this Guide. Finally a detailed index makes it possible to find hundreds of j 
subjects easily.  
How the Guide Was Compiled  
J The Depression that began in 1929 resulted in widespread suffering  
¤ as businesses failed and workers lost their jobs. Conditions grew steadily  
  worse, and beginning in 1933 under the administration of President  
  Franklin D. Roosevelt a "New Deal” program was inaugurated. Intended  
I to provide economic reliefas well as to produce social reform, it resulted  
J ._._, _.. _.___ .

  7 5
  ·  ~s
  (xii) WILLIAM s. rownu.  
tene  .~:
  § i
  in a great many new national programs. One ofthe agencies created was  
  the Works Progress Administration which established the Federal  
  Writers’ Project. Its purpose was to provide worthwhile work for un-  
  employed writers, nevertheless, whatever it undertook was expected to  
  be of "social usefulness." This description was deemed appropriate for a y  1
  series of regional guidebooks, and that idea was advanced. It soon , 1
  became apparent, however, that a series of individual state guidebooks Q Q
  would be more useful than regional ones, and that volumes of a more g a;
  limited scope could be produced more effectively, both for the benefit  
  of the writers and for those who would make use of them.  
  In October 1935, Edwin A. Bjorkman of Asheville, 70-year-old    
  Swedish-born journalist, literary critic, and translator, was named    
  director ofthe North Carolina Federal Writers’ Project. Bjorkman had    
  settled in Waynesville in 1925, and he established headquarters in A 
  Asheville for the Federal Writers’ Project which was destined to produce  ·
  other works in addition to the North Carolina volume in the American  
  Guide Series. Asheville was made the headquarters, one of his critics , ·
  maintained, instead of the more logical state capital because Bjorkman    v`
  had a very young, fourth wife there. While the director possessed  
  admirable literary talent and was certainly interested in producing the  
  Guide, he lacked the organizational ability necessary for so complicated   I
  an undertaking. William C. Hendricks, an experienced journalist, was  
  hired (but not as a "relief’ worker) to supervise preparation of the -
  guidebook.   .
  An organization similar to that of a newspaper with an editor and   R
  “reporters” was soon in place. The state was divided into regions with  
  district ofhces in Elizabeth City, New Bern, I/Wlmington, Raleigh, _.'
  Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Asheville. Three regional offices to  
  stress the Coastal Plain—agricultural, Piedmont-industrial, and Moun—  
  rain-scenic parts ofthe state were also created with district supervisors  
  located in Raleigh, VWnston—Salem, and Asheville. _1
  Some experienced writers were employed even though they were not  
  othenvise unemployed, but the field work was carried on by teachers,  ._
  librarians, clerks, lavwers, salesmen, former executives, writers, and  {
  others who needed gainful employment. These Held workers engaged  
  in research, conducted interviews, determined mileage, and gathered  ·
  other essential information which was then sent to the regional oiiice to  
  be polished and put into iinal form.  
az.- ii

  A field supervisor worked for a few months beginning in February
  1936 and then took over as tours editor, after which work began with
  great seriousness. Faculty members at the University of North Carolina, i
  Duke University, North Carolina State College, and elsewhere were  
  prevailed upon to make special contributions in their fields. For
  example, Professor Lefler of Chapel Hill wrote the section on history,  
  Professor Louise Hall at Duke wrote on architecture, and Professor {
  B.W. Wells of N.C. State wrote on natural history  
  Guidelines for the complete series of state guidebooks were issued f
  from Washington, and each state was expected to adhere to them. North _
  Carolina proved to have so many unique qualities and points of interest  
  that the information collected could not readily be adapted to direc- {
  tions compiled by people unfamiliar with the state. To overcome this  
E handicap, the national director named William T. Couch, director ofthe i  
  University of`North Carolina Press, to make final decisions. Couch, a  
g native of Virginia, was familiar with North Carolina, and he contributed  
  in many important ways to the accuracy of the Guide. Z}
  Unlike the work in some ofthe other states where labor unrest caused  
I delays and where lack of funds and local support threatened to delay or  
  even end the project, in North Carolina there were few causes for  
  concern. As the manuscript began to take shape consideration was given  
; to publication. Some of the other state guides were published by  
g commercial firms, such as Viking Press which issued the Tennessee   ,
  guidebook in December 1939. The University ofNorth Carolina Press  
  at that time was building a national reputation for its Southern regional  
  studies, and it seemed logical that publication ofthe guidebook should  
  join the list ofimportant books that it issued. A state agency, the North  
_ Carolina Department of Conservation and Development, agreed to Q!
I   sponsor publication ofthe Guide as a means of publicizing the state and  
  encouraging industrial development and tourism. The University of  
  North Carolina Press became the publisher, Governor Clyde R. Hoey Q
’ provided a foreword, and the preface was signed jointly by Edwin  
: Bjorkman as state director and by W. C. Hendricks as state editor. While  
  many copies were used for promotional purposes bythe Department of  
Y, Consewation and Development, many more were sold at $1.50 by the  
  Press and through bookstores. By 1954 the Guide was out ofprint, over  
‘ i 14,000 copies had been distributed. A revised edition was published by  
the University ofNorth Carolina Press in 1955, but it has also long been  
I i
W l

  , 3
  · {
  (xm WILLIAM s. 1¢0wELL  
*?;?é a t
  C . . c . . . . . yl
  out of print. Copies ot either edition which turn up in the hands of i {
  dealers are snapped up quickly. This 1988 reprint ofthe original edition i l
  is issued in res onse to 21 rowin need amon the eo le ofthe re ion,  
wl. P g E S P P E _  y
  particularly those who have moved to North Carolina in recent years  Q
  . .  ` 1
  and who want to know what the state was like before they arrived.  j
  8 1
  W1LL1AM S. PowELL  J
BEE e_;
  Chapel H ill * 
  Flzmmy 20, 1988 A
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