Rocky Mount, NC

Rocky Mount NC is located in Nash and Edgecome Counties...

2016 Best Guide to Rocky Mount, NC

December 16, 2015

Rocky Mount is located in the two counties of Nash and Edgecombe in the eastern part of North Carolina, about an hour's drive east of Raleigh. It was built on a 20-acre plot along the Tar River, at the point of a series of rapids.  Unlike its name, the town isn't rocky at all.  It's actually considerably flat.

With a population of 57,000, the town has grown to become a progressive district known as the Rocky Mount Metropolitan Area that includes Wilson, and bringing it to more than 200,000 strong in population.

Rocky Mount was first inhabited by Tuscarora Indians.

A post office was established in 1816 in Rocky Mount NC, with incorporation following some 50 years later. The post office was built at the Falls of the Tar River where a rocky cluster of ground exists. The state's first cotton mill (Battle's Mill) and small church also rested there.

In 1818 the town was founded by Joel Battle and two additional partners. It was built upon one of the first cotton mills in the state. Battle owned the mill until his death in 1829, when it was passed to his children. The mills operated under slave labor through the early 1850s, when women were employed to replace them.  They earned about $2.50 per week and lived nearby in small row houses.

The Rocky Mount Mills were known for being "spinners of high grade ply yarns" was established near the rapids, taking advantage of the water to produce power to run the mill.  The company opened with 37,756 spinning spindles, and 17,964 twisting spindles.

The mill was destroyed by Union forces in July, 1963.  After the Civil War, a new mill replaced it. It quickly began producing about 500 pounds of cotton yarn daily, including 1,200 yards of shirting. 

Today, however the mill is inoperable, like much of the businesses in town.

Just like most small American towns, the railroad brought industry. In the 1840s, the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad passed just a couple of miles east of town, connecting Rocky Mount to all eastern seaboard cities and towns. It also acted as the hub for those travelers who where headed east and west. Interestingly, it was the longest railroad in the world at one time in its existence.

During the Civil War the cotton mill, rail bridge and several buildings in Rocky Mount were destroyed by Union soldiers, and the town suffered immensely. But, in 1867 it incorporated to become an official town.

A fire demolished the Rocky Mount Mills in 1869, forcing William Battle to rebuild.  But, by the early 1880s, Battle turned the mill over to a board of trustees.  Thomas Battle became president and the mill once again thrived.

During the 1800s Rocky Mount was home to a large tobacco industry. In fact, it was considered as the world's largest tobacco market. This spurt of economic growth was welcomed as the first bank opened in 1889.

By 1900 the town had a population of more than 3,000. Along with the railroad, bank, library, hospital, YMCA, hotel, newspaper, school and cotton mill, it also featured excellent, fertile ground.

Rocky Mount incorporated as a city in 1907. By 1910 the population had doubled in size.

The Historic Rocky Mount Mill Village, a conglomeration of old homes built in the late 1880s and early 1900s for the mill workers, is a nationally recognized place.

The creation of City Lake, a reservoir for the town's water supply occurred in the late 1930s. The high school was built and opened in 1953, followed by the Wesleyan College in 1960, and two community colleges by the late 1960s.

Nash General Hospital opened in the early 1970s as the first one in the state featuring private rooms. By then, the town as an All-American City. A new post office and airport were added.

Wesleyan College is located in Rocky Mount NC.

And, no review of Rocky Mount NC would be complete without mention of Leonard Rawls and Jim Gardner, founders of the Hardee's restaurants.

The city is serviced by the Amtrak railway, and the Rocky Mount-Wilson Airport.

Today, Rocky Mount is in a terrible economic slump. Check out the video above for more information. It essentially consists of fenced mills no longer working, boarded up shops, burned out houses, aging lots, and lagging businesses.

The Rocky Mount Mills closed in 1996, causing irreparable damage to the local economy, as more than 300 people lost their jobs. A once thriving tobacco industry is no more, and the large rail yard is an eye sore, though it still provides a service. 

Crime runs rampant in Rocky Mount, what with two to three times the U.S. average in violent crimes and property crimes.  While murders are down from the first decade of the 2000s, assaults have risen.  Many of America's "Most Dangerous" lists include the city.

With 100 being the safest number on Neighborhoodscout.com's crime index, Rocky Mount scored a very low 3.  That means it is safer than just 3% of all cities in America.  Your chances of becoming a victim of crime in the city is 1 in 91.  The North Carolina average is 1 in 292. 

Information comes in part from research done by David A. Norris,  NCPedia.org.

Quick Facts About Rocky Mount, NC

Population: 57,000

Medium Age: 39

Medium Household Income: $37,400

Home Values: $113,000

Rocky Mount NC Zip Codes

27801
27802
27803
27804
27815

Towns Near Rocky Mount NC

NASHVILLE, NC
ELM CITY, NC
ENFIELD, NC
BAILEY, NC
CASTALIA, NC
SHARPSBURG, NC
SPRING HOPE, NC
WHITAKERS, NC
WILSON, NC
MACCLESFIELD, NC
BATTLEBORO, NC
PINETOPS, NC
RED OAK, NC


 

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