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Learn how new findings from the State Archives will shape the future of The RAIL Project

An upcoming virtual event will present new information from the NC State Archives, guiding The RAIL Project’s mission to memorialize the incarcerated workers who built WNC’s railroads.

The RAIL Project memorial at Andrews Geyser. A black plaque framed in stone has writing describing the story of the incarcerated workers who built the mountain division of the WNC railroad.

The RAIL Project constructed this memorial at Andrews Geyser in Old Fort.

Photo via NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

Recently released prison records from the North Carolina State Archives are being used to help guide the future plans of The RAIL Project. The project memorializes the thousands of incarcerated laborers — the majority of whom were African American — who died constructing the Mountain Division of the Western N.C. Railroad from Old Fort to Ridgecrest in the late 1870s.

Findings will be presented at “The RAIL Project: New Discoveries in the State Archives,” a virtual lunch + learn event hosted by the State Archives on Friday, Feb. 16 from 12 to 1 p.m. Project researchers Dr. Dan Pierce, a professor of history at UNC Asheville, and Steve Little, Mayor of Marion, will discuss how the new information will shape the project’s next steps — register in advance to attend.

Explore the detailed history of the incarcerated laborers who constructed WNC’s railroads on The RAIL Project’s website.

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