Railroads move people and freight. Throughout North Carolina, towns and communities sprouted around railroad depots and terminals. Some towns even moved to be closer to the railroad. That is part of the story of Oakboro.
Named for a large natural salt lick that attracted deer and buffalo, Big Lick had a post office by 1860 and was incorporated by 1879. Big Lick would grow to a community of about 300 people.
But then the railroads came. In the early 1910s, the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway (WSSR) built a 90-mile line running from Winston-Salem south to Wadesboro. A new station was built 1.5 miles south of Big Lick at a location then known as Furr City. In 1915, Big Lick's post office closed; the town's charter dissolved four years later.
Furr City was located at the intersection of five rural roads and had been locally known as 'Five Roads' before the railroad. When the WSSR came through, a freight and passenger depot was put in. 'Furr City' was named after C.C. Furr, who owned a store nearby. The name Furr City didn't last long, as in 1915, the community's name changed to Oakboro when the new town was incorporated. That same year, a Post Office was established in Oakboro, with the former Big Lick Post Office mail would now route through Oakboro.
Today, Oakboro is a growing community of over 2000 residents with an active downtown. A mix of restaurants, shops, and other businesses (including a popsicle factory) are found along the walkable North Main Street. Oakboro is home to two museums - the Oakboro Regional Museum of History and the Oakboro Railroad Museum. The Oakboro Railroad Museum is open on Sundays from 2 to 4 pm.
|The Oakboro Railroad Museum is located in the restored former Oakboro Rail Depot. The museum and the grounds around it were funded by a grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation Enhancement Program.
Located inside the restored rail depot at the 'Five Roads' intersection that the town grew from, the Oakboro Railroad Museum is home to the town's original Western Union telegraph, many railroad artifacts, and a restored caboose.
|Some of the items inside the Oakboro Railroad Museum.
Though Big Lick may no longer be its own town, Oakboro celebrates its past with the annual Big Lick Bluegrass Festival in April.
Oakboro's Blueway Parks are two kayak/canoe landing sites about eight miles apart on the Rocky River. The Rocky River Blueway is part of the Carolina Thread Trail system.
|Oakboro General Store & Hardware has been in operation since 1996.
As the Charlotte region grows, Oakboro will do the same. Oakboro is located about one hour east of Uptown Charlotte and has become a great place for many young families to call home.
All photos taken by post author - July 2023.
Sources & Links:
- My personal Oakboro Photo Album on Flickr ---Updated occasionally
- Town of Oakboro
- Winston-Salem Southbound Railway ---WVNCRails.org
How To Get There: