Railways & Historic Sites
Thomasville was established in 1852 primarily because of construction on the North Carolina Railroad. The Civil War, the furniture industry, prohibition, the Vietnam War and many more events have shaped the more than 163 year history of the Chair City. Fortunately many of the historical documents, pictures, buildings, landmarks, sites and attractions have been preserved over the years making it fun and interesting to learn of Thomasville’s rich history. Individuals and groups from school age to retirees to motor coach fleets arrange for guided or self-guided tours of the area.
While some things have come and gone, the NC Railroad continues to flourish and that is another big draw to the area. Thomasville is considered one of the top spots in North Carolina for rail fans to gather because of the high volume of trains, unique heritage units, steam engines and the like passing through. Adjacent to the tracks is a passenger depot (circa 1870) that has been converted to the Visitors Center with an Advanced Train Control System monitor to see where trains are, free parking, public restrooms, various restaurants, a band stand for picnicking and unobstructed views with beautiful scenery in the foreground and background for taking pictures and videos of passing trains. In fact, Thomasville’s annual Rail Fan Day is the first Saturday in November and gets participation from both Amtrak and Norfolk Southern.
Historic T’ville Diner: The diner started as a dining car bought from the railroad in 1936 and placed on a piece of land as a restaurant. Though it has since moved into a building many of the brass light fixtures from the dining car are still used today and a national television food show named it one of the top 5 diners in North Carolina. It was also the setting of the motion picture, Above Suspension starring Scott Bakula, Ed Asner and others released in 2000.
Thomasville’s City Cemetery: Bentonville and Averasboro, NC were sites of Civil War battles in March of 1865 near the end of the war. Confederate Surgeon Simon Baruch was commissioned to Thomasville to set up makeshift hospitals for the 280 wounded soldiers would brought by rail. The 36 Union and Confederate soldiers who did not survive the trip or died soon afterward were carefully interred in Thomasville’s City Cemetery side by side in three rows of 12. This is believed to be the only such grave site in the world with soldiers from the opposing sides buried together. The grave markers for the 28 Confederate and 4 Federal soldiers are identical having their names and the dates 1861-1865 and four grave markers have unknown and 1861-1865.
Civil War Trails: A Place of Refuge and Medical Care Thomasville provided a refuge for wounded and ill soldiers and civilians fleeing from war-torn eastern North Carolina.
John Warwick Thomas Statue: John Warwick Thomas, the founder of Thomasville, was born June 27, 1800; a native of Caswell County, North Carolina. Elected to the state Senate in 1842, John Thomas was appointed to sell stock for the railroad in Davidson County. John Warwick Thomas died on May 17, 1871. Thomasville owes honor and appreciation to its founder who built a town on the North Carolina Railroad.
Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial: Thomasville’s central location and well known respect for the military played a key role in the state placing the North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Memorial along I-85 in Thomasville. The Memorial is conveniently located at a state maintained rest area and a wreath laying ceremony there kicks off the Memorial Day Celebration each year. An alphabetical listing of each North Carolinian killed or missing in Vietnam is etched into the face of the 1,647 bricks that comprise the Memorial.