Wayne County History in Maps: Post-Civil War to Present

This is the final post in a three part series. Check out Part I & Part II.

Wayne County map 1881
Click to enlarge. Courtesy North Carolina State Archives.

With the end of the Civil War, investment in the shattered state railroad infrastructure began again. Work also resumed on dirt roads across the county, many of which survive today, although paved over.

The map to the right dates to 1881 and exhibits dozens of roads, in red pencil, along with the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad line running north and south.

Curiously absent are the North Carolina and Atlantic & NC Railroad lines running east and west. Both lines had been in existence for over twenty years when this map was drawn.


1900 NC railroad map
Click to enlarge.  North Carolina State Archives.
1900 NC railroad map, Wayne County inset
Click to enlarge.

Above is a railroad map of North Carolina published in 1900. This is roughly how the state looks today although Wayne County (inset right) is a little “fatter” with straighter lines than its actual boundaries should be.

There are no roads shown but it does accurately represent the Wilmington & Weldon (green), North Carolina (red), and Atlantic & NC (yellow) railroad lines.

Goldsboro, Mount Olive, Pikeville, Fremont, and several other towns found today are represented. Two are no longer found in modern maps- Copeland, just east of Rosewood, and Best’s, near the Lenoir county line.

1916 Wayne County soil survey map
Click to enlarge.  North Carolina State Archives.

The above map is a soil survey published in 1916 by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. It is a complicated map, taking data from the NCDA, US Geological Survey, and the US Bureau of Soils, a now defunct unit of the USDA.

While it does show roads, waterways, and railroad lines, the map’s main purpose is to reflect the different soil types found in Wayne County. Each color represents a distinct soil type, including “Kalmia sand”, “Portsmouth loam”, “swamp”, “Thompson silt loam” and “Norfolk fine sandy loam”. Loam is a type of soil composed of sand , silt, and a small amount of clay.

1920 Wayne County rural mail delivery routes map
Click to enlarge.  North Carolina State Archives.

Above is a rural delivery route map published in 1920. This is one of the earliest and most comprehensive surveys of Wayne County roads.

The county is divided into seven mail delivery districts- Dudley, Fremont, Goldsboro, Mount Olive, Pikeville, Saulston, and Seven Springs. Each district has its own route sub-divided into sections with distances listed on the map.

The small dots scattered around the roads are buildings, mostly houses and a few schools, churches, and stores. At this point in time, the roads did not yet have official number designations. That would come over the next decade.

1930 Wayne County road survey map
Click to enlarge.  North Carolina State Archives.

The map above is a road survey published in 1930 by the State Highway Commission. At this time Wayne County had one hundred miles of state highways, shown as solid black lines. These roads are still highways today though most have new number designations.

Highway 10, running east and west, is now Hwy 70. 40, running north and south, is today Hwy 117. 102, from southwest to northeast, is now Hwy 13. The only road with the same number today is Hwy 111.

There are four different road types shown. All of the state highways (solid black lines) were hard surface, i.e. paved. Gravel roads (black and white lines) had been graded and topped with gravel to resist erosion. Graded roads (double black lines) had been smoothed over. Unimproved (double dashed black lines) were a hodgepodge of dirt lanes of varying quality and susceptible to flooding and erosion.

1936 Wayne County road survey map
Click to enlarge.  North Carolina State Archives.

The 1936 road survey (above) differed little from the 1930 map. There were more paved highways, including 222 in northern Wayne and several communities had begun to pave their downtowns, seen in the insets around the edge of the map.

Paving Center Street, 1928
Paving Center Street, 1928. The man standing second from left is Zeno Hollowell, city manager and former mayor when the railroad tracks were removed (quasi-legally) in 1926.

1940 Wayne County Federal Writers Project road map
Click to enlarge.  North Carolina State Archives.

This map is a simple affair, published in 1940 by the Federal Writers’ Project, a part of the New Deal giving unemployed writers jobs. One of the best known results of this project were detailed state overviews, including a volume on North Carolina.

This particular map is not included in the volume on North Carolina. It may have been included in a separate tour pamphlet or used by the writers themselves while traveling through the area.

The highways shown all have the numbering recognizable to residents today, except for Hwy 13, which was still known as 102 in 1940.

Maps have never been more important or as accessible as today. The way we consume that information has changed drastically though.

GPS on our phones along with products like Google Maps (above) not only show us roads but also gives us directions and can even show us a satellite or street view.

It is an interesting inverse- as map data becomes ubiquitous, our ability to read and comprehend them seems to be fading.


Previous map posts:

1 thought on “Wayne County History in Maps: Post-Civil War to Present”

  1. Great source for maps is UNC’s site, https://web.lib.unc.edu/nc-maps/. Their collection of soil survey maps, like the one you have above, can be downloaded, opened in Google Earth, overlaid and faded in and out. It’s fascinating to compare hand drawn maps from over one hundred years ago to current aerial photos.


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