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Gaston County History: Cities & Towns: Bessemer City

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Bessemer City

See TopoQuest map.

See current census information.

Official city website.

Bessemer City developed around a railroad stop known as Wooten Station. In the ante-bellum period the area it served had several iron furnaces, but the discovery, in the later half of the century, of huge iron deposits elsewhere in the country and better methods of processing made these small scale industries impracticable. However the city was named after the Bessemer steel-making process in tribute to the area's heritage. In 1891 John Askew Smith and a group of business men conceived of a whole new company town, the Bessemer City Mining and Manufacturing Company. (See their "prospectus" below.) The city was incorporated on March 6, 1893 when it still had only about 70 residents. The first mayor was John Askew Pinchback and the first policeman C. E. Robbins.

Despite its metallic name, Bessemer City eventually became a cotton mill city along with the rest of the county. However, a different kind of mining appeared in 1954 when the Lithium Corporation of America (now owned by FMC Corporation) opened what is one of the largest lithium mines in the country.

Bessemer City population:

  • 1890 -- no count; 1900 -- 1,100; 1910 -- 1,529;
  • 1920 -- 2,176; 1930 -- 5,739; 1940 -- 5,567;
  • 1950 -- 8,969; 1960 -- 4,017; 1970 -- 4,991;
  • 1980 -- 4,787; 1990 -- 4,698; 2000 -- 5,119;
  • 2010- -- 5,340.

In Bessemer City: Downtown Historic District (downloads .pdf).

Bessemer City Historical Resources:

    • Centennial, 1893-1993, Bessemer City, North Carolina, (pub. 1993), call #: 975.677 Cen NCC.
    • Prospectus of the Bessemer City Mining and Manufacturing Company, Bessemer City, North Carolina, (pub. ca. 1890), call #975.677 Pro NCC.
    • History of Gastonia and Gaston County, by Robert Allison Ragan (pub. 2010), call #: 975.677 Rag NCC, particularly p. 546-550.
    • Gaston County Heritage, Volume 1 – 2002, p. 282-283, call #: 975.677 Gas NCC v. 1.
    • North Carolina History Project, Bessemer City.
  • For city directory listings that include Bessemer City, see our guide City Directories.

Bessemer City Downtown Historic District; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, 2014, 65 p. http://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/14000228.pdf
Preliminary thoroughfare plan for the Bessemer City, North Carolina, 1967, 17 p., http://cdm16062.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p249901coll22/id/436658

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