Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

The Town That Said "No"

Posted March 20, 2007

Wow!  What a story!  Carthage.  Ever been there?  Moore County seat.  Population:  fewer than 2,000.  Gateway to golf and pottery country.  Neat little courthouse you drive around.

But Carthage could have been a whole lot more.  Carthage was supposed to be the home of the University of North Carolina but town leaders nixed the idea for fear that locomotives would not be able to make it up the hill into town.  Opportunity number one squandered.

Now opportunity number two.  Did you know that Carthage was eyed by Henry Ford as the site for his motor vehicle plant?  Ford wanted to buy an old buggy plant and convert it into an auto assembling facility.  But the owner of Tyson Buggy Company turned down Ford's offer.  So Mr. Ford took his business to Michigan and the rest is history.  Can you imagine what the NC economy would be like if the Tyson's had sold out?  By the way, that old buggy plant burned down a few years after the Ford offer.

Just a little bit of interesting history!


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  • nerdlywehunt Mar 21, 2007

    NC came up with the best end of the deal, no doubt! Cary could learn some lessons from this community! Car is everything it pretends NOT to be. The corruption by local sleeze politicians and the lack of quality growth is astounding. Why don't you "news" folks do some stories on how the developers are calling all the shots while expecting the taxpayers to foot the bill????

    Oh that's right, Jim Goodman is one of them...............

  • drnc Mar 20, 2007

    Did NC have train service in 1795? I'd like to see some documentation on that aspect of the tale.

  • hobbylar1 Mar 20, 2007

    I'm sure that some individuals in Carthage have mixed feelings about what might have been. I've seen the historical marker for the Buggy company when driving through Carthage. Pleasant and scenic town. Wish there were some restaurants beside BBQ or fast food. Each town often makes its destiny on some decision.

  • fishnett5977 Mar 20, 2007

    I agree with Wolfy1 too - I'm glad its such a cute little town - I like to look at the old houses when we go through there on our way to see our grandsons in Kannapolis! If it had became like Detroit - I WOULDN'T be driving through there, that's for sure!!! Every thing happens for a reason!

  • urbudelar Mar 20, 2007

    The two events are unrelated. Obviously the UNC connection came first and then the automotive angle followed many years later.

  • What The Deuce Mar 20, 2007

    I agree Wolfy1, I would rather NC be the way it is than be like Detroit. I think we came out of that on the good end as well.

  • Wolfy1 Mar 20, 2007

    Hmm...automotive we could be like Detroit? I'd say, we came out on the good end of that deal.

  • RaleighRob Mar 20, 2007

    I'm confused by the first story. The University of North Carolina opened its doors in 1795. But locomotives weren't around till almost halfway into the 1800s. So this story is somewhat suspicious to me.

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