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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Durham in Durham County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

American Tobacco Trail

 
 
American Tobacco Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, November 10, 2018
1. American Tobacco Trail Marker
Inscription.  Durham was established in the 1850's when the North Carolina Railroad extended its tracks westward across the state. The new town became the destination for farmers in the area to bring their tobacco crops for sale and transport to the factories.

By 1860, Durham consisted of the railway station, a post office, three stores, a carpenter shop, two bars, a tobacco factory, and a few houses. Robert E. Morris had begun to manufacture smoking tobacco here in 1858. In 1860 he sold his factory to John R. Green who started production of "Bull Durham Smoking Tobacco," a brand destined to become the most popular of its kind in the world. In 1869 William T. Blackwell and John R. Day took over the business and expanded the Bull Durham plant into the world's largest tobacco manufacturer. Washington Duke began making cigarettes in 1881 on his small farm in northern Durham; by 1884 he became the first manufacturer to mechanize cigarette production. Mr. Duke helped start cotton mills and machine shops to support his growing business. His son, James B. Duke, formed the American Tobacco Company.

Six rail lines came into Durham in the late
American Tobacco Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, November 10, 2018
2. American Tobacco Trail Marker
nineteenth century, bringing tobacco leaf from eastern and southern North Carolina and South Carolina farms to the American Tobacco plants for processing. The last rail line, owned by Norfolk Southern, was constructed in 1905-06. It ran into Durham from Chatham County through what is now the Lake Jordan reservoir. In Wake County, that RR line met the main Florida-bound tracks of the Seaboard Coast line. When Lake Jordan was constructed, the original line was moved east onto higher ground where the route remains today.

In the second half of the Twentieth Century, more and more commercial freight was carried by truck rather than by rail car. Interstate highways replaced the railroads, and rail lines were abandoned. When the American Tobacco factory shut down in Durham in 1987, Norfolk Southern began removing track from its rail corridor. Sections of the corridor were sold off; one large parcel became part of I-40.

But the corridor was saved by volunteers, local governments, and the State. Today the 23-mile American Tobacco Trail routes through Durham, Wake, and Chatham counties, from downtown Durham at the old American Tobacco factory site to Bonsal in Wake County. It serves bicyclists and pedestrians and, in the southern sections, equestrians as well. A 4-mile section of trail in Wake County is maintained with engines and rolling stock as the New Hope Valley Railway, preserving a piece of railroad history.

[Image captions:]
Washington Duke stands at the door of the log barn that was the first Duke tobacco factory. It burned and has been reconstructed.

The Durham Bull was known throughout the 1870's and 1880's. The baseball term "bullpen" originated with a painting of the Durham bull in the area where the pitcher warmed up.

A steam locomotive passenger train roles at Durham's Union Station. As many as 26 passenger trains per day once stopped here.

The tracks of the North Carolina Railroad passed by the front of the Duke Tobacco Factory.
 
Location. 35° 59.429′ N, 78° 54.378′ W. Marker is in Durham, North Carolina, in Durham County. Marker is at the intersection of Blackwell Street and Morehead Avenue, on the right when traveling south on Blackwell Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 461 Morehead Avenue, Durham NC 27707, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. John Sprunt Hill (approx. 0.2 miles away); Durham's Station (approx. 0.2 miles away); North Carolina (approx. 0.2 miles away); Emanuel J. Evans, 1907-1997, and Sara N. Evans, 1905-1986 (approx. half a mile away); Five Points Loan Company (approx. half a mile away); Visionary Leadership in the New South (approx. half a mile away); Dr. Bartlett Durham (approx. half a mile away); Dedicated to Those who Served in the World War (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Durham.
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceRailroads & Streetcars
 

More. Search the internet for American Tobacco Trail.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 18, 2019. This page originally submitted on November 12, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 63 times since then and 38 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 12, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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