Plank Roads
   Trying to open up various parts of North Carolina so that farmers and manufacturers could reach far away markets with their products, many cities and businessmen built plank roads or turnpikes, also called "Farmers' Railroads."

   The advantages of these timber roads where low cost of construction (1/10 per mile of railroads) and speed in building. Fayetteville was situated at the head of navigation on the Cape Fear River. Already an active port through steamboats down to Wilmington and thence to international and national markets, Fayetteville had several major plank roads — east to Warsaw; north to Raleigh and south to Albemarle. The longest plank road in the world ran from Fayetteville to High Point to Salem and then on to Bethania in Forsyth County.
   By 1852, the state had chartered 41 plank road companies. See a list of North Carolina plank roads (click here).
   These roads were generally 8 to 15 feet wide with frequent turnouts so that wagons could pass each other. Tolls were charged based on the transportation -- individual rider and horse (one-half cent a mile), one horse wagon (one cent per mile) and two-horse team or wagon (two cents per mile). Click for more information on actual construction of such roads.
   The main negative of plank roads was that they quickly rotted and deteriorated. Most were worn out by 1860 and never rebuilt.


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