Rockingham Depot 1910
|Located in a direct line from Wilmington (east) to Charlotte (west), Richmond County became an important rail link early in North Carolina history. When it later developed that a major north-south railroad crossed this east-west line in Richmond County, a major large rail center quickly grew in Hamlet. During World War I, train loads of soldiers would pass through Hamlet, met by volunteer groups with food and refreshment. There are many pictures of these and other railroad events in the recently published “More Than A Memory” available at the Hamlet Library. Today, railroading is not as important in Richmond County, however still a major industry.The original Hamlet Passenger Station, seen below, built at the turn of the century – 1900, is on the National Register of Historic Buildings.In those days, Hamlet had several large hotels to serve passengers traveling from New York to Miami, and points in between. The Hamlet Opera House, now being reconstructed, was the site for performances by many of the nation’s great. Circuses would use the stop to exercise their animals, and parade main street.The Richmond County Historical Society supported the City of Hamlet in its plans to relocate and renovate the old Seaboard Airline Railway depot. The City of Hamlet took leadership in the project, applying for North Carolina Dept. of Transportation and other grants including the Cole Foundation.
The total costs were approximately $11 million.By 2004, the station has been relocated and restoration completed, as seen at the right. The restored building features a railroad museum, a large room for community use, and a park. An extensive collection of railroad artifacts can be seen at the National Railroad Museum located at 23 Hamlet Avenue in Hamlet.
Rockingham, six miles away, did not have the large rail industry enjoyed by Hamlet, but nevertheless was an important center due to the large textile industry. At one point, in the 1920’s, Rockingham was the site of the Rockingham Railroad Company, a small railroad line from Rockingham to points in South Carolina.
In 1999 the Historical Society was offered the old Rockingham Seaboard RR depot, above, with the condition the building be moved. Built in 1891, the station was closed in the 1970s. The Society acquired property for the station. The station was moved in 2004 and restoration is now complete.
The restored Rockingham Seaboard Rail Road depot is now located at the intersection of US Highway 74 and US Highway One overlooking the same tracks it once served, about 400 yards further East of its original location. A formal Historical Society dedication was held in the Spring of 2007.
Richmond County Historical Society
P. O. Box 1763
Rockingham, N.C. 28380