On October 2, 1880, the Western North Carolina Railroad completed its line from Salisbury to Asheville. This was the first rail line to reach the city. Almost immediately it was sold and resold to the Richmond and Danville Railroad Company, becoming part of the Southern Railway in 1894. As what typically happened with the completion of railroads, Asheville experienced slow but steady growth as industrial plants increased in number and size, and new residents built homes. Textile mills were established and plants were set up for the manufacture of wood, mica products, and other commodities.
The 21-mile distance between Hendersonville and Asheville of the former Asheville and Spartanburg Railroad was completed in 1886. By that point, the line was operated as part of the Richmond and Danville Railroad until 1894 and controlled by the Southern Railway afterward. (Asheville's final passenger train, a coach-only remnant of the Southern Railway's Carolina Special, last ran on December 5, 1968.) Asheville had the first electric street railway lines in the state of North Carolina, the first of which opened in 1889. These would be replaced by buses in 1934. But one thing's for sure, the growth of Asheville came from the completion of the railroad in 1880.
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