LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

Dismal Swamp Canal

Today we take transportation for granted, but it was hard work getting around North Carolina in the early nineteenth century. Image source.

Transportation had always been difficult in North Carolina — both in the east, where rivers and swamps criscrossed the landscape, and in the west, where mountain ranges separated scattered communities. The state was slow to fund improvements, but in the first half of the nineteenth century, North Carolinians gradually built canals and roads to improve transportation and trade. In this chapter, we’ll consider the difficulties of travel, the means of transportation available, and the impact improvements had on the state’s economy.