Important Message about LEARN NC

LEARN NC is evaluating its role in the current online education environment as it relates directly to the mission of UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education (UNC-CH SOE). We plan to look at our ability to facilitate the transmission of the best research coming out of UNC-CH SOE and other campus partners to support classroom teachers across North Carolina. We will begin by evaluating our existing faculty and student involvement with various NC public schools to determine what might be useful to share with you.

Don’t worry! The lesson plans, articles, and textbooks you use and love aren’t going away. They are simply being moved into the new LEARN NC Digital Archive. While we are moving away from a focus on publishing, we know it’s important that educators have access to these kinds of resources. These resources will be preserved on our website for the foreseeable future. That said, we’re directing our resources into our newest efforts, so we won’t be adding to the archive or updating its contents. This means that as the North Carolina Standard Course of Study changes in the future, we won’t be re-aligning resources. Our full-text and tag searches should make it possible for you to find exactly what you need, regardless of standards alignment.

street view with streetcar

By the first decade of the 1900s, electric streetcars linked the downtowns and residential parts of many American towns. This photograph was taken in Lebanon, Indiana, in 1909. About the photograph


Sstreetcar to Bloomsbury Park, Raleigh, 1913. Carolina Power and Light (CP&L) Photograph Collection (Ph.C.68), North Carolina State Archives. .

Railroads reached Asheville in 1880 (from Salisbury) and in 1886 (from Spartanburg). The city soon gained popularity as a tourist and health resort, but the two-mile trip from the train depot to downtown remained a difficult one for visitors and citizens alike. The journey required climbing hills that were a 10.5 percent grade, too steep for horsecar operation.

E. D. Davidson of Long Island, New York, who had financed a horsecar system in Halifax, Canada, visited Asheville in 1888 to explore opportunities. The city soon authorized a charter for an electric railway that would include lines from Public Square (now Pack Square) to various sections of the city, including the depot that served the Western North Carolina Railroad. Davidson agreed to build the system in collaboration with Frank Sprague, builder of the Richmond streetcar system. John Barnard helped supervise construction and became the company’s general manager.

The line to the depot opened on February 1, 1889. From the Public Square, the line extended down South Main Street (present Biltmore Avenue) and Southside Avenue, and then was routed onto Depot Street (west of present-day McDowell Street) to the depot, located on flat land in the railroad yard.

two women getting on a streetcar

A woman helps a child onto a streetcar in New York City, 1913. About the photograph

A number of railway companies organized and built streetcar lines to emerging neighborhoods and outlying areas, including the Sulphur Springs resort and Biltmore Village. By 1907 Asheville led the state by carrying three million streetcar passengers, compared to Charlotte and Wilmington with two million each. By 1915 the street railway reached its maximum size, operating forty-three rail cars on eighteen miles of track, including one to the newly opened Grove Park Inn and the surrounding upscale neighborhood. Thomas Wolfe described the city’s streetcars in his short story “The Lost Boy”: “The streetcars ground into the square from every portion of the compass and halted briefly like wound toys in their old familiar quarterly-hour formula.”

Following Asheville in establishing electric streetcar service were Winston (July 1890), Charlotte (May 1891), Raleigh (Sept. 1891) and Wilmington (1892). In 1900 most of Asheville’s railways were consolidated into the Asheville Electric Company, renamed Asheville Power and Light Company in 1912. In 1926 the company was sold to Raleigh-based Carolina Power and Light Company. The electric streetcar system in Asheville ceased operation in 1934, supplanted by buses.