Riding and Working on the Railroad
In the 1920s, railroads were a central part of American life. Railroad lines crisscrossed the country. They carried people, manufactured goods, food, the daily mail, and express packages. Railroads made long-distance travel possible, but the opportunities for travel were not equally shared. In the South, African Americans were segregated into Jim Crow cars.
Salisbury, North Carolina, was linked to the nationwide system by the Southern Railway. Its main route ran between Washington, D.C., and New Orleans, Louisiana, by way of Salisbury. The depot and rail freight sheds made the town a part of the countrys rail network. The railroad also provided job opportunities in the community: in nearby Spencer, the vast locomotive repair shops employed 2,500 skilled workers.