History To-Go: Early Travel

Before there were cars and airplanes to help us travel short and long distances quickly, traveling was much more time consuming. Most people who needed to travel short distances in North Carolina walked or rode their horse. If your destination was somewhere farther away or if you needed to transport something with you, a horse drawn wagon would have been your best option. Horse drawn wagons were especially important if you were taking a very long journey or moving to a new place – they had room to store all of the supplies that you would need for the weeks or months you’d spend on your trip. By 1840 North Carolina had its first railroad, the Wilmington & Weldon, which at the time was the world’s longest railroad! Other parts of the state were slower to get railroads, however, and while the North became well connected by railroad lines, the South relied on other means of transportation more heavily. In North Carolina, this meant plank roads and steamboats. Plank roads were exactly what they sounded like, long roads made of wooden planks that made traveling via horse or wagon much easier. Plank roads, like the 129-mile-long Fayetteville and Western, were often toll roads. This meant that travelers had to pay to use them based on the number of miles they traveled and the number of horses they were using. Not long before the first rail and plank roads came to North Carolina, the state began to experiment with steamboats. The first steamboat was launched in Fayetteville and could carry 100 tons of cargo and 30 passengers. Steamboats allowed people and goods to get down the Cape Fear River to Wilmington more quickly than ever before and became an important part of North Carolina’s economy. 

May's "History To-Go" box features Early Travel! You can come by the museum starting Tuesday, May 2, 2023 to pick up a box (limit 2 per family). Limited supplies, so come early!  You can select the links below to access the box contents if you cannot get to the museum to pick yours up!

Thanks to funding from the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex Foundation Inc, and the Arts Council of Fayetteville we are offering FREE "History To-Go", take home craft kits. 

NEXT MONTH: Historical Foodways