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Roanoke Rapids City

Roanoke Rapids City Hall is located at 1040 Roanoke Avenue, Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870; phone: 252-533-2840.

Beginnings [1]

It was against this background of the railroads and the Roanoke Canal that industrialists first began to eye the potential for industrial development in the Roanoke Rapids vicinity during the late 1880s. These men were part of a national trend that saw northern capitalists investing in industrial plants, especially textile mills, in southern states. While textile manufacturing, both woolen and cotton, was not unknown in antebellum North Carolina, it was limited in both size and geography. An influx of capital after the war along with a marked increase in cotton acreage encouraged an acceleration in the construction of cotton textile factories. After the 1880s, the industry proliferated, building an average of six new mills a year for the rest of the century. Furthermore, during the late nineteenth century textile manufacturing spread from piedmont counties, where the earliest mills had relied on water power from dams, to localities in eastern North Carolina where flatter landscapes provided far fewer sites capable of generating the horsepower needed for the operation of financially viable textile mills. While the first mills in Roanoke Rapids did utilize water power, later mills relied on the relatively recent introduction of electricity, produced locally by water turbines along the Roanoke River. It was as part of this rapid late-nineteenth century industrialization of the "New South" that first attracted investors eyes to the falls of the Roanoke River.

  1. Thomas R. Butchko, consulting architectural historian, Roanoke Rapids Historic District, Halifax County, North Carolina, nomination document, 1998, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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