Welcome to the High
Since its earliest roots, High Point has always been a center of
commerce, community spirit and hospitality.
Midway into the 19th century, stagecoaches and covered wagons rumbled along the
Old Plank Road, an engineering marvel that traced an Indian trail from nearby
Salem all the way to Fayetteville .
Meanwhile emerging steam locomotive technology arrived in the Tar Heel State,
and developers laid out a network of rails to ferry passengers and freight from
Goldsboro to Charlotte .
When the chief engineer of the North Carolina Railroad drove a spike into the
ground in the southwestern corner of Guilford County and declared it the highest
point on the entire line, he saw nothing but forests and farmland all around.
But soon the junction of the railroad and the plank road would become a bustling
center of activity. German immigrants and Quaker settlers were among the first
to arrive. Hotels and restaurants sprang up to accommodate weary travelers, and
in 1859 the town of High Point officially came into existence.
The bountiful harvest of the rich Piedmont soil became the basis for the first
industrial enterprises in High Point. A saw mill to refine the lush hardwoods
was among the first businesses to spring up, and by the late 1880s High Point
could count 500 citizens employed in textiles, woodworking and tobacco.
In 1889 three local business leaders launched High Points first furniture
factory, providing the impetus for the City’s enduring and undisputed reputation
as the Furniture Capital of the World.
By the turn of the 20th century, more than 30 furniture companies called High
Point home. And thanks to the industrial age, enterprising High Pointers
branched out into other diverse fields as well. Adams-Millis, which would grow
to become the world’s largest manufacturer of hosiery, was formed in 1904. A few
years later Thomas Car Works started building streetcars and trolleys in High
Point, and would transform with the times into a national leader in the
manufacturing of school buses.
As the country grew and expanded, High Point’s strategic location became a key
element in its success. Not only was the town the virtual midpoint between
Charlotte and Raleigh, but between Washington, D. C. and Atlanta, and New York
and Miami as well. Ease of distribution to distant markets convinced companies
and residents to settle in the moderate climate of High Point.
The economic boom of the early 1900’s also saw the formation of the Southern
Furniture Manufacturers Association, which opened the Southern Furniture
Exposition Building in 1921. In a tradition which continues today, High Pointers
opened their homes and hearts to 149 furniture exhibitors and 700 retail buyers.
Today High Point is the home of the largest home furnishing trade show in
existence, bringing together as many as 80,000 buyers and sellers every six
months from across the United States and more than 100 other countries.
Throughout the remainder of the 20th century High Point continued to grow and
prosper, driven by the same core values that existed at its founding. Today’s
Main Street motorists travel the same route as the old plank road, passing
hotels, restaurants, and diverse businesses along the way.