Friday, February 2, 2024

The State Archives to Host Virtual Program on Western N.C. Railroad and New Research on Incarcerated Labor

Feb 2, 2024

Recently released prison records may offer clues for a project that will memorialize incarcerated laborers who died building the Mountain Division of the Western N.C. Railroad from Old Fort to Ridgecrest.

These records, housed in the N.C. State Archives, have provided additional information about those working, and at times dying, under dangerous conditions.

An upcoming virtual Lunch & Learn program hosted by the State Archives, “The RAIL Project: New Discoveries in the State Archives,” will present some of the early findings.

Dr. Darin Waters, deputy secretary for the N.C. Office of Archives and History, will introduce this Black History Month program.

Lead researchers for the RAIL project, Dr. Dan Pierce, history professor at UNC Asheville, and Steve Little, Mayor of Marion, will discuss the scope of the project and how discoveries are shaping plans for the project’s future.

The event is scheduled Friday, Feb. 16, from noon to 1 p.m. Register in advance:

About the State Archives
The State Archives serves as the custodian of North Carolina's historical records, preserving and providing public access to a wealth of archival materials. Through its diverse collections, educational programs, and exhibitions, the State Archives plays a crucial role in promoting an understanding and appreciation of North Carolina's rich historical legacy.

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) manages, promotes, and enhances the things that people love about North Carolina – its diverse arts and culture, rich history, and spectacular natural areas. Through its programs, the department enhances education, stimulates economic development, improves public health, expands accessibility, and strengthens community resiliency.

The department manages over 100 locations across the state, including 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, five science museums, four aquariums, 35 state parks, four recreation areas, dozens of state trails and natural areas, the North Carolina Zoo, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, the African American Heritage Commission, the American Indian Heritage Commission, the State Historic Preservation Office, the Office of State Archaeology, the Highway Historical Markers program, the N.C. Land and Water Fund, and the Natural Heritage Program. For more information, please visit

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