Burlington, NC

Burlington, situated in Alamance County, is a small town made up of only 1 square mile.

2018 Best Guide to Burlington, NC

July 21, 2018

The early settlers of the area of modern day Burlington were Quakers, Scots Irish immigrants, and German farmers. In the 1850's, the North Carolina Railroad needed to find land where they could build and do maintenance on their track. The area they chose is a little ways past modern day Graham.  

The company finished the track in 1856, and decided that Alamance County was in perfect position for repair shops. In 1859, they began working on the repair shops, and immediately after a bank, a church, a hotel, and a restaurant were built. When the repair shops were finished the town had around 72 buildings. 

The town became known as "Company Shops", and were chosen to be the railroad's headquarters. The Company Shops closed in 1886, and the North Carolina Railroad gave the operation to Spencer, North Carolina.  

Since the Company Shops were no longer open they decided that a new name was needed. The Company Shops became Burlington in 1893 when the city was incorporated.

Founded in 1886, Burlington NC is located in Guilford and Alamance Counties, North Carolina and is part of the Greensboro-Winston Salem-High Point triad statistical area. There are about 51,000 people living in Burlington NC, while the entire metropolitan entails 150,000 people.  

Burlington's total land area is about 25 square miles. The elevation is 633 feet above sea level.

Much of the early history of Burlington involves Quaker settlers, Scottish-Irish immigrants and German farmers who arrived here in the 16th century via the "Great Wagon Road". Also, several Revolutionary battles occurred in Burlington NC, including the War of Regulation, Battle of Clapp's Mill, Battle of Lindley's Mill, and Pyle's Defeat. 

During the mid part of the 19th century the railroad came to town, linking Goldsboro and Charlotte, and became a maintenance stop for trains. The town became known simply as Company Shops in 1858. The first train arrived in Alamance County in January, 1856, on this North Carolina Railroad.

Today the track extends for 317 miles from Morehead City in the east to Charlotte (Piedmont area), and is owned by the state. The Amtrak Carolinian and Piedmont trains provide connection with Baltimore, Raleigh, New York, Charlotte, Washington, Philadelphia, and Richmond.

The North Carolina Railroad Company moved to Spencer, NC in 1886, ending a quarter-century's run for Company Shops. After much of the town's buildings became vacant with the railroad's exit, the people decided a new name was needed. So, in 1893 the town was incorporated as Burlington.

The Piedmont Triad International Airport is located in nearby Greensboro, while Raleigh-Durham International rests opposite, placing Burlington central to both.

By the 1920s, several dozen cotton mills were built in Burlington and the town was thriving. Burlington NC soon became known as "The Hosiery Center of the South". Edwin Holt had created Alamance Cotton Mill some 80 years earlier. Holt's Burlington Industries employed about 15,000 people and became known throughout the world for its textile production. It soon became Burlington Mills and was the largest textile firm in the world.

As the Great Depression grasped the nation, the cotton industry crashed. So, Burlington Mills took a leap into manmade fiber. Rayon was the product and the company would soon dominate this one as well.

During World War II, Burlington saw plenty of new faces in town courtesy a new aircraft factory. When the war ended, Western Electric brought new jobs with its electronics factory.

During the 1950s Burlington developed a new reservoir after a major water shortage struck. Another was built soon after and the town is now known and admired for its excellent water supply.

After the economy tanked in the 1970s, severe unemployment struck Burlington NC. But, once again the town fought, creating an attitude for non-reliance on a single industry. A medical diagnostic company arrived and created additional growth for the town.


The median resident age in Burlington is 40 years. The median estimated household income is about $36,000 making it about $14,000 less than the North Carolina average. The estimated per capita is about $22,000. The average price for a home in Burlington is about $129,000 (2013) which is $26,000 less than the North Carolina Average. Expect to pay about $710 a month for rent.

The racial makeup of Burlington is 52% White, 30% Black, 13% Hispanic, 3% Asian, and 2% other. 83% of the population are high school graduates, with 23% holding a Bachelor's Degree or higher. 44% are married, 4% are separated, 13% are divorced, 6% are widowed, leaving 33% that have never been married.

Towns Nearby

Glen Raven, NC
Graham, NC
Elon, NC
Elon College, NC
Alamance, NC
Haw River, NC
Green Level, NC
Gibsonville, NC

Alamance County

Burlington belongs to Alamance County in the central part of North Carolina. The county is part of the Burlington, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area. Alamance County has a population of 154,000 and the city Graham, with a population of 14,100, is the county seat.

Great Alamance Creek, what Alamance County was named after, was where the Battle of Alamance took place. It was a pre-Revolutionary War battle where a militia led by Governor William Tyron destroyed the Regulator movement. Alamance County was the site of many Revolutionary battles including: Battle of Lindley's Mill, Battle of Guilford Court House, Pyle's Massacre, and the Battle of Clapp's Mill.

In the early 1800's the textile industry began to rapidly grow, and the need for transportation increased. In the 1840's, a railroad was built through the county to connect Raleigh and Greensboro, and the county officially formed from part of Orange County in 1849.

During the Civil War Alamance County split from the Union and joined the Confederacy. No battles took place in the county itself, but the county did send many soldiers to war. After the war the county received national attention for the murder of Wyatt Outlaw (an African American Town Commissioner) by members of the Ku Klux Klan. The men were arrested, but all charges were dropped.

Alamance County borders Caswell, Orange, Rockingham, Chatham, Randolph, and Guilford counties.

Alamance County is made up of 435 square miles. 424 of which is land with the remaining 11 as water.


The population of Burlington, NC is about 50,000. The population of the town has been rapidly increasing since it's founding.


The elevation of Burlington, NC is 633 feet above sea level.

Zip Code

The zip codes for Burlington, NC are 27215, 27216, and 27217.

Area Code

The area codes for Burlington, NC are 336/743.

Politics and Religion

Historically speaking Burlington and Alamance County have voted mostly Republican, with 57% going to Mitt Romney during the 2012 Presidential Election. This represents the trend for the previous four or five elections.

As of 2010, 58% of the population are religiously unafiliated (Nones). About 39% are Protestants, Catholics make up around 2%, and 1% other.


The unemployment rate for Burlington is about 5% (2015), making it the same as the state average of around 5%. Manufacturing, retail, and construction make nearly 50% of the most common industries in the town.

Newspaper & Obituaries

The Times-News is the primary newspaper that covers the Alamance County area.