RAIL: The Railroad and Incarcerated Laborer Memorial Project

Sun, Aug 1, 2021
This event has already occurred.
Online w/ Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA)
Western North Carolina Historical Association

The construction of the Mountain Division of the Western North Carolina Railroad is widely considered one of the greatest human accomplishments in regards to both engineering and construction ever undertaken at the time it occurred. The project took place over a period of several years in the late 1800s. Many people are aware that the railroad provided the first dependable access to and from much of Western North Carolina for the rest of the state as well as much of the nation. Many also know the names of some of those who were instrumental in seeing through the completion of this ambitious project. Names such as Colonel Alexander Boyd Andrews, of Andrews’ Geyser fame. However, what most people are unaware of is that at least 95% of the labor which built the railroad across the Blue Ridge Escarpment was completed by inmates from the North Carolina State Penitentiary… and approximately 98% of those inmates were African American men… the majority of whom were unjustly imprisoned…

This project was created to share the true story behind this human endeavor and to honor the memory of those who labored and those who died here.