Norlina at 100: Centennial event planned Saturday

Sep. 12, 2013 @ 09:00 PM

NORLINA — One hundred years ago, a group of Warren County residents paced off a one-mile square around a Seaboard Air Line Railway depot in northeastern North Carolina and petitioned the N.C. General Assembly for a town charter. They called the town Norlina.

That initiative and legal action gave name to a spot that had been variously know as “Ridgeway Junction,” “Woodyard” or simply “the junction.”

And it incorporated into local legend the murky origin of the name “Norlina.” It could have been the way passengers heard the conductor call out the name of the station: “Next station stop is Nor-lina!” with the middle consonants “th-car” slurred over.

However the name came about, the station stop, the first after a train entered the state from Virginia, became know as “where North Carolina begins.”

On Saturday, residents of Norlina will mark the centennial of the town with a celebration beginning at 10 a.m. and wrapping up around 4 p.m.

Stephanie Wheeler, a Norlina native and gold medalist in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, will speak during the opening ceremonies.

Expectations for the celebration are high. Event coordinator Juel Duke said, “We’re expecting beautiful weather and a big crowd.”

The Norlina Museum is an appropriate setting for the celebration. Norlina grew up around the railroad, and the railroad influenced the town’s history in many ways. Much of that history is preserved in the museum, which is housed, appropriately enough, in a U.S. Department of Defense hospital railroad car.

U.S. 1 between King Drive and West Street will be closed from 9:45 a.m. to 11 a.m. Portions of Hyco Street, Center Street, Grissom Drive, Warren Plains Road, Division Street, Main Street and Liberty Street will be closed for all or part of the day.

Visitors are advised to approach the event on U.S. 158 from the direction of Warrenton, turning off to the right on Division Street. There will be parking near the railroad tracks and in the nearby neighborhoods.


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• 10 a.m.: Parade from King Drive, south on U.S. 1, West Street and Hyco Street, ending at the Norlina Museum. Vendors and exhibitors open for business.

• 10:30 a.m.: Art Show opens in the old Town Hall.

• 11 a.m.: Opening ceremonies at the Norlina Museum. Barbecue cookoff winners will be announced. The sale of barbecue begins at the fire station.

• 11:30 a.m.: Car show judging begins. Train talk by Sears Bugg at the Norlina Museum.

• 3 p.m.: Kayne Riggan performs at the Norlina Museum.

• 3:30 p.m.: Car show awards announced.

• 4 p.m.: Event ends.