See Topoquest map.
Official city website.
Gastonia began as a stop known as Gastonia Station on the track constructed by the Atlanta & Richmond Airline Railroad (later the Atlanta & Charlotte Air Line) in the early 1870s. The depot served as a stopping point for trains to take on water and there was a hotel. In 1876 the Chester & Lenoir Narrow Gauge Railroad (later the Carolinas & North Western) built a line crossing the one at Gastonia, thus increasing the spot's importance as a transportation junction. When the first train came through on March 31, 1873, a new store had been added to the local buildings. However, sometime in 1875 or 1876, the depot was moved about a mile westward to what became the present day city of Gastonia.
Gastonia was incorporated as a town by the North Carolina General Assembly on January 26, 1877. The town, which centered on the spot where the railroad lines crossed, was one mile square and had an estimated population of 140. The first mayor was R. E. Waddill. Oliver Davis, the only policeman, thus became the first chief of police. In 1890 Branson's Business Directory of North Carolina mentioned Gastonia as a post office with a population of 236 and listed many local businesses. In 1909, by popular vote, Gastonia replaced Dallas as the county seat.
Gaston County and Gastonia became an important textile manufacturing area. Gastonia's prominence began with the founding of the Gastonia Cotton Manufacturing Company in 1877. This was a steam powered mill; steam power let mills move away from the rivers. By 1900 there were five mills. Then a new mill was built, Loray Mill, the largest textile mill under one roof in the South. In 1904 the Gray Manufacturing Company built the county's first mill powered by electricity. By 1923 the county had 103 mills and was the national leader in combed cotton production. In 1929 a strike at the Loray Mill attracted world wide attention and became perhaps the best know event in the city's history. (See our research guide: Textile History of Gaston County.)
In Gastonia: Schiele Museum of Natural History; Loray Mill, 300 S. Firestone St., and Historic District; Downtown Historic District; American Military Museum (Memorial Hall); City of Gastonia parks; Lineberger Park and miniature train; George Poston Park; South Fork River Park.
Gastonia History Resources:
When did the Gastonia Gazette become the Gaston Gazette?
TITLE: Celebrating 140 Years: Gastonia, North Carolina
AUTHOR: Gaston County Public Library
UPDATED: 8 May 2019
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