Experimental in North Carolina
The Carolinas were among the early states to try and launch railroads. North Carolina especially needed such transportation. But political differences between Eastern and Western portions of the state, as well as between Whig and Democratic political parties, inhibited implementation.
In 1827, President Joseph Caldwell of the State College (now
UNC) wrote and published newspaper articles promoting railroads over
canals and turnpikes (also see plank roads).
At this stage in business development, individuals wanting to set up corporations had to win legislative approval for their company. While the state legislature would authorize the creation of many railroads, most would never raise the capital or ever begin operations.
There were two experimental railroads built using horse-drawn carts over wooden rails. These were constructed at Fayetteville and at Raleigh.
In January 1830, a small railroad demonstration was set up at the Fayetteville Town Hall. A two-seat passenger car and small locomotive were set up on a circle of rails. Adults were charged 50 cents for a ride and children were charged 25 cents. This was the first demonstration in North Carolina of a steam locomotive.
In December 1830, the North Carolina General Assembly chartered many railroads, including the Fayetteville Rail Road Company, which was to built a railroad from Fayetteville to the Cape Fear River (about a two-mile section) at Campbellton. Construction began in March 1834.
In July 1834, townspeople rode on a completed half-mile section in a passenger car drawn by a horse. By September 1834, the railroad was completed from Campbellton to Willkings & Company's Auction Store in downtown Fayetteville. Cars were drawn by horses.
Officers were: (1831) Edward L. Winslow, president; Directors: John H. Hall, George W. Hutton, Constant Johnson, Edward W. Willkings, Warren Winslow.
(February 1834) James Seawell, president; Directors: Thomas N. Cameron, Hugh Campbell, James Seawell, Williamson Whitehead (treasurer), Edward W. Willkings.
The Raleigh experimental railroad carried quarried stone in wooden carts drawn by horses over the rails to the new state capital being built.
In Raleigh, a company was set up in mid-1832 for this experimental railroad.
The officers of the Experimental Rail Road were Joseph Gales, president; J. C. Stedman, Treasurer; Alfred Williams, secretary; and managers/directors: William Polk, Thomas Cobbs, E. P. Guion, Henry M. Miller. The company was incorporated by the General Assembly in late 1832.
Construction contracts were issued in Fall 1832 and the experimental railroad line of 1.25 miles of wooden rails started operating in 1833. On Sundays, passengers could ride on this horse-drawn experimental railroad.
In 1833, John Primrose served as treasurer, being replaced in June/July 1834 by B. B. Smith.