|WARREN COUNTY HISTORY
Situated along the major routes of Interstate 85 and
the historic U.S. Hwy. 1, Warren County serves as a
gateway to the Carolinas from the north. It has a significant
historical heritage evidenced by the plantation homes,
registered historical sites, preserved architecture
within the county and the many important leaders that
have come from the area. Four governors as well as several
attorneys general and Supreme Court justices have come
from Warren County. The birthplace of Nathaniel Macon,
the state's only speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives,
is Buck Spring Plantation, which has been partially
restored and can be visited.
Formed from the division of what was previously Bute
County in 1779, Warren County was named in the honor
of Dr. Joseph Warren, a patriot who was killed at the
Battle of Bunker Hill. The county was one of the most
wealthy regions within the state and eastern part of
the nation in the mid-1800s. Due to agriculture related
to tobacco and cotton, plantations flourished, and growth
expanded into the towns. In addition to agriculture,
many came to Warren County to enjoy the healing benefits
of sulfur springs and stay at hotels located there.
Annie Carter Lee, the daughter of General Robert E.
Lee, was a frequent visitor. Amenities at these spas
included bowling, ballrooms and card games.
Horseracing at two tracks also attracted many to the
area. Great horses, including Triple Crown winners,
can trace their lineage to Sir Archie, who was trained
and raced here at one of the first racetracks in the
state in the early 1800s. Railroad expansion improved
the ability for crops to be shipped to market, including
timber and related materials, and brought further growth
including the development of Norlina.
Warren County has three incorporated towns. Warrenton,
located on U.S. 401 and U.S. 158, was founded in 1779
and serves as the county seat. Over 90 percent of its
buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic
Places. Warrenton served as a place for trade and entertainment
for the plantation owners. Large homes were built in
the town with many remaining from the early and mid-19th
century. Prestigious academies for men and women were
chartered, one of the earliest being The Warrenton Male
Academy, formed in 1788. Commercial and government structures
in the town date back to the late 19th century and early
The development of railroad lines and depots led to
the growth of Norlina and Macon, the other two towns
in Warren County. The town of Macon, located on U.S.
158, developed around a depot for the Raleigh and Gaston
Railroad. The depot was built circa 1839, and the town
was incorporated in 1889. Macon's namesake is the former
U.S. Speaker of the House Nathaniel Macon.
Located on U.S. 1, 158 and 401, Norlina was born out
of land developed for a terminal to connect the Seaboard
Air Line and the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad in the
late 1890s. Initially the area was known as Mount Regis.
Norlina was incorporated in 1913. Hotels serviced the
many passengers that passed through the town daily,
and the commercial district centered around the depot.
During the early and mid-20th century, Norlina saw many
travelers passing through its community due to being
located on a major north/south route by rail and by
road. Norlina currently has a railroad museum honoring
the town's heritage.
Important to the economic growth for Warren County,
more recent history includes the impounding of two major
lakes along the North Carolina and Virginia border.
Significant areas of these lakes, Kerr and Gaston, lie
in Warren County. Kerr Lake has over 50,000 acres and
800 miles of shoreline. Lake Gaston encompasses 20,000
acres and 350 miles of shoreline. Kerr Lake serves as
a water source for Warren County, and both lakes provide
hydroelectric power. Camping, fishing and boating activities
as well as housing being developed around the lakes
have brought visitors and new residents to the county.
The towns and other areas of the county are being revitalized,
and many structures are being restored. The Chamber
encourages you to take advantage of the many points
of interest related to our county's heritage: touring
historical sites, shopping in our towns, attending cultural
events or playing on our lakes. Browse the Web site's
calendar to see dates for events to help you explore
more of what Warren County has to offer.