Rocky Mount, North Carolina
Rocky Mount was built near a set of rapids on the Tar River. The name Rocky Mount might bring to mind some sort of prominence or outcrop of stone on a hilltop but the land in this part of North Carolina is dead flat. The name seems to have been derived from the rocks in the rapids on the Tar. Rocky Mount was the site of the first textile mill built in North Carolina. Rocky Mount Mills was built in 1818 next to the rapids and powered by water. The original mill was destroyed by general Sherman's troops at the end of the civil war. A new mill was built on the site of the old sometime after the war. That mill is currently closed and fenced off. There is a historical plaque next to the mill on the roadside but no access. Several other textile mills were built in Rocky Mount in the late 19th and early 20th century. Rocky Mount also became a major tobacco market and rail transportation center with a large rail yard and shops built on the Southern edge of town.
All of the textile mills in Rocky Mount are now shut down and the tobacco market is closed. The rail yard is still operating but employment at the shops has been drastically reduced. In spite of this, the population of Rocky Mount continues to grow. I'm not entirely sure what's driving the growth. All of the growth and almost all of the economic activity however, has been on the edges of town particularly on the Northern and Western edges near the 64 and 95 freeways. Downtown Rocky Mount is largely vacant and burned out houses and empty lots are scattered throughout the Southern and Eastern neighborhoods.
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