The railroad is the single most important development in the history of both Wayne County and North Carolina. With no natural deep ports and a string of barrier islands, our state was commonly regarded as a rural backwater for much of its early history.
The railroad created Goldsboro and Mt. Olive while bringing about the end of Waynesborough, the original county seat. As William Sherman made his way north from Georgia in late 1864, his main objective was Goldsboro and its intersection of major rail lines.
Within a fifteen year span, three lines ran through Goldsboro: the Wilmington & Weldon (completed 1840) running north and south, the North Carolina Railroad (completed 1856) running to Charlotte and the Atlantic & NC Railroad (finished 1858) to Beaufort.
Survey for the Atlantic & NC Railroad
The A & NC formally began in 1852 with the approval of the North Carolina General Assembly and work began soon after in preparation for construction.
The above map is a geological survey done by Walter Gwynn in 1853. It begins in Goldsboro and runs to Beaufort, a distance of more than one hundred miles.
Above is the section between Goldsboro and Mosely Hall (today LaGrange). The Neuse is shown as a small hump in the bottom left corner. Stony Creek is outside of town to the east, although today it is centrally located.
In the middle of this section is “Walnut Pocosin” along with an arrow indicating the general direction of water runoff. A pocosin is a type of wetland found all throughout eastern North Carolina. The word comes from the Algonquin language and translates to “swamp-on-a-hill”.
If you reorient the map to align with North, this pocosin, halfway between Goldsboro and LaGrange, would be in the Elroy area.
If you look at a modern US Geological Survey topographical map of the area lo and behold there is a “Walnut Pocosin” to the northeast of Elroy.
The Atlantic and East Carolina railroad line running through the pocosin is the old A & NC line, although the track itself has been replaced countless times over the past 150 years.
Previous railroad & map posts: