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WARREN COUNTY HISTORY

Situated along the major routes of Interstate 85 and the historic U.S. Hwy. 1, Warren County serves as a gateway to the Carolinas from the north. It has a significant historical heritage evidenced by the plantation homes, registered historical sites, preserved architecture within the county and the many important leaders that have come from the area. Four governors as well as several attorneys general and Supreme Court justices have come from Warren County. The birthplace of Nathaniel Macon, the state's only speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is Buck Spring Plantation, which has been partially restored and can be visited.

Formed from the division of what was previously Bute County in 1779, Warren County was named in the honor of Dr. Joseph Warren, a patriot who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The county was one of the most wealthy regions within the state and eastern part of the nation in the mid-1800s. Due to agriculture related to tobacco and cotton, plantations flourished, and growth expanded into the towns. In addition to agriculture, many came to Warren County to enjoy the healing benefits of sulfur springs and stay at hotels located there. Annie Carter Lee, the daughter of General Robert E. Lee, was a frequent visitor. Amenities at these spas included bowling, ballrooms and card games.

Horseracing at two tracks also attracted many to the area. Great horses, including Triple Crown winners, can trace their lineage to Sir Archie, who was trained and raced here at one of the first racetracks in the state in the early 1800s. Railroad expansion improved the ability for crops to be shipped to market, including timber and related materials, and brought further growth including the development of Norlina.

Warren County has three incorporated towns. Warrenton, located on U.S. 401 and U.S. 158, was founded in 1779 and serves as the county seat. Over 90 percent of its buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Warrenton served as a place for trade and entertainment for the plantation owners. Large homes were built in the town with many remaining from the early and mid-19th century. Prestigious academies for men and women were chartered, one of the earliest being The Warrenton Male Academy, formed in 1788. Commercial and government structures in the town date back to the late 19th century and early 1900s.

The development of railroad lines and depots led to the growth of Norlina and Macon, the other two towns in Warren County. The town of Macon, located on U.S. 158, developed around a depot for the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad. The depot was built circa 1839, and the town was incorporated in 1889. Macon's namesake is the former U.S. Speaker of the House Nathaniel Macon.

Located on U.S. 1, 158 and 401, Norlina was born out of land developed for a terminal to connect the Seaboard Air Line and the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad in the late 1890s. Initially the area was known as Mount Regis. Norlina was incorporated in 1913. Hotels serviced the many passengers that passed through the town daily, and the commercial district centered around the depot. During the early and mid-20th century, Norlina saw many travelers passing through its community due to being located on a major north/south route by rail and by road. Norlina currently has a railroad museum honoring the town's heritage.

Important to the economic growth for Warren County, more recent history includes the impounding of two major lakes along the North Carolina and Virginia border. Significant areas of these lakes, Kerr and Gaston, lie in Warren County. Kerr Lake has over 50,000 acres and 800 miles of shoreline. Lake Gaston encompasses 20,000 acres and 350 miles of shoreline. Kerr Lake serves as a water source for Warren County, and both lakes provide hydroelectric power. Camping, fishing and boating activities as well as housing being developed around the lakes have brought visitors and new residents to the county.

The towns and other areas of the county are being revitalized, and many structures are being restored. The Chamber encourages you to take advantage of the many points of interest related to our county's heritage: touring historical sites, shopping in our towns, attending cultural events or playing on our lakes. Browse the Web site's calendar to see dates for events to help you explore more of what Warren County has to offer.

130 N. Main St., P.O. Box 826, Warrenton, NC 27589 | Phone:(252) 257-2657 | info@warren-chamber.org