National Geographic : 1941 Aug
Tarheelia on Parade Versatile and Vibrant, North Carolina in a Generation Has Climbed New Economic Heights BY LEONARD C. ROY ORTH CAROLINA is a land of amaz ing variety. Look at its map. One end is washed by the Atlantic Ocean. The other meets Ten nessee amid the highest mountain peaks east of the Mississippi River. Between these extremes the State falls into three natural divisions: the level Coastal Plain of rich farmland, the gently rolling hills of the Piedmont where swift streams form the basis of great industrial development, and the Western Highlands, so long a mountain play ground and health resort. Life in these divisions is as varied as their topography (map, pages 184-5). The flavor of the Old South prevails on the Coastal Plain. Venerable plantation man sions recall gay gatherings of "before the war" beaux and belles. Invited to dinner, you may be served with country ham, chitterlings, dia mondback terrapin, wild duck in season, a choice of fresh-caught fish, barbecued pork, or chicken; or "fish muddle" (a fish stew), turnip greens, and "dodgers" (corn-meal dumplings) cooked in "pot likker." On village streets "cousin," "uncle," and "aunt" are often used without regard for kinship. In the Piedmont speech and step are livelier. More men work here by the clock than by the sun. Busy factories abound. The difference stems partly from pioneer days. English and Scottish settlers in the Piedmont lived by the work of their own hands. Germans who migrated from Pennsylvania did the same. The plantation system never de veloped in the Piedmont on a large scale. Isolation bred a distinct type of North Caro linian in the Western Highlands. Remote from government and with their nearest neigh bors often several miles away, the highlanders became self-sufficient and independent, even suspicious of strangers. Slavery meant nothing to them. Many were Union sympathizers dur ing the War between the States. Here Cotton and Water Power Meet After Appomattox, education and industry were hard hit. Not until the eighties did re construction really get under way. Homespun then was giving way to "store cloth," cloth of North Carolina cotton woven in New Eng land and returned to the State for sale. Here were cotton, abundant water power, and a market, men observed. New mills were built, and more and more cotton remained here. The big move forward in North Carolina, however, started only a generation ago when huge power plants elbowed mills from stream banks in the Piedmont. Industries no longer required direct water power. They could be operated as far away as wires could deliver electric current. Then came good roads in the early twenties to lend vigor to the industrial rally. Gone were the days of dusty lanes and mud ruts. In a few years North Carolina ranked high in the Nation in road building. Today hard-surface highways link every county seat of the 100 counties that make the State resemble a huge jigsaw puzzle.* Virginia Dare Trail to Roanoke Island I chose romantic Roanoke Island, scene of the first white settlement in North Carolina, as the starting point of my 10,000-mile tour of the State. Roanoke nestles behind the Outer Banks, the chain of sand-swept islands paralleling the North Carolina coast. In slightly more than a decade, it has moved from the oxcart to the automobile age. At Manteo staff photogra pher J. Baylor Roberts sought in vain an ox drawn cart to photograph amid the maze of automobile traffic in the town's busy shopping center. Along with rubber tires has come concrete street paving to replace crushed oystershells as a top dressing. The old rambling general stores, where you can still buy things from hairpins to harness, now vie with modern spe cialty shops. The Virginia Dare Trail on the Outer Banks has made the island accessible since 1931 to fishermen and hunters seeking sport in the near-by sounds, sea, and marshes. But The Lost Colony, colorful pageant by Paul Green, native of North Carolina, of the fate of Sir Walter Raleigh's colonists here, has been Roanoke's chief lure since the summer of 1937 (Plate XII). Old residents recall that the Outer Banks once were covered with forests. Today trees survive only on the inner, or Sound side. To * See "Motor-coaching Through North Carolina," by Melville Chater, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, May, 1926.