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.

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Railroad Survey for Wayne County, 1853

Wayne County railroad map, 1900
1900 map showing the three railroad lines intersecting at Goldsboro.

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.

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Neuse River Map, 1888

Corps of Engineers logo
           US Army Corps of Engineers logo

Waterways have been the primary highways for humans for thousands of years, long before the arrival of airplanes, cars, and trains.

Two of the largest and richest areas of Colonial America were Charleston, SC and the Tidewater region of Virginia, both blessed with natural deep water ports. North Carolina, with its string of barrier islands, was not so lucky.

The Neuse River was one of the few waterways of importance to early European settlers in North Carolina. Despite the emergence of the railroad in the mid-19th century, the Neuse continued as an effective highway for people and goods.

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Wayne County History in Maps: Early America through the Civil War

This is part 2 of a three part series. Click here for part 1.

With the defeat of the British and formation of the United States, the North Carolina General Assembly created Wayne County in 1787 from the former Dobbs County. With a new nation came new demand for surveys of everything from national borders all the way down to private property.

While surveyors combed the nation though, the first maps differed little from the maps of the Colonial Era.

Map of North and South Carolina, 1796, by J. Denison
Click for an enlarged version.                                 North Carolina State Archives

Above: Map of North and South Carolina, by J. Denison, published in 1796.

This map does feature counties but does not show any boundary lines, owing to the fact that comprehensive surveys had not yet been completed across the state.

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Wayne County History in Maps: Colonial Era

Wayne County’s history began in 1787 with its formation from the break-up of Dobbs County. The history of this region stretches back much further however. The following maps highlight the development of North Carolina and also show the slow pace of information hundreds of years ago.

The maps below are from the North Carolina Maps project website. It is a collaboration between the State Archives and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

This is the first of three posts covering Wayne County’s history in maps.

  • The New World
Verrazzano marker, Pine Knoll Shores
NC historical marker, Pine Knoll Shores near the entrance to NC Aquarium.

After the European discovery of North America in the late 1400s, explorers came in droves to chart this new land. The first to lay eyes on what would become North Carolina was the Florentine Giovanni da Verrazzano, who sailed up the Atlantic coast from Florida to New Brunswick in 1524.

In 1585, the same year English settlers arrived at Roanoke Island (the “Lost Colony”), the Americae pars, Nunc Virginia (Americas now part of Virginia) map was published by Theodor de Bry in Germany.

Americae pars, Nunc Virginia map, 1585
Americae pars, Nunc Virginia, 1585                                    UNC, North Carolina Collection

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