Yesterday, I was going some historical research on the Chapel Hill Iron Mountain Railroad, the original name of the rail line that ran from the Carolina campus through what is now Carrboro on to University Station between Hillsborough and Durham.
I found the original 1873 Charter, and wonderful narrative on the coming of the railroad in Kemp Plummer Battle's 1912 tome the History of the University of North Carolina. The initial 1873 attempt failed, and the 1879 legislative session rechartered the railroad with the new name "State University Railroad", in place of the earlier name "Chapel Hill Iron Mountain Railroad".
The initial 1873 effort was to carry off iron ore from the mountain off what is now Estes Drive (it is sandwiched in south of Carolina North and is now a residential subdivision). USGS now calls it "Iron Mine Hill", rising to 525 feet. (In contrast, where the rail line crosses Estes Drive the elevation is 387 feet.) By 1879 the focus had shifted to providing a rail link to the UNC campus. The line was finished and opened in 1882. The location of Carr Mill along the line (and the eventual incorporation of Chapel Hill's West end into Venable and then a name change to Carrboro) was not surprising, as textile mills usually located along rail lines to allow raw materials to be shipped in and finished goods to be shipped out.
Battle writes of the following song composed for and sung at the 1882 celebration of the railroad's opening, which sums up the times:
"A song, my boys, for Chapel Hill,
And for the N. C. U*.,
And three times three the echoes thrill,
And keep them ringing, too.
Away with study, toil and care;
Our hearts, with pride elate,
Shall crown in joy without alloy
The day we celebrate.
Farewell, old wagon,
Jolting hack** and phaeton***,
We're going to take the train.
With hill and valley smiling 'round,
In vernal robe arrayed,
We are summoned by a grander sound
Than cannon ever made—•
The whistle of the engine, boys:
The cars are here at last.
So, fellows, let us all rejoice,
For jolting days are past.
Old road to Durham,
We'll travel now by train.
And all along the coming years
That time for us may fill,
We'll bless the men that brought the road
To dear old Chapel Hill.
So cheers and thanks we join to give
For what we all do see;
The railroad, boys, has reached up to
Three cheers for the whistle,
The grand old whistle,
The loud sounding whistle,
That blows for the train.
Now that the ending rail is laid,
The last hard spike is driven,
Some special tribute should be paid,
Some names with honor given.
Thank Battle, Jarvis, Andrews, Hoke,
Caldwell and Coley strong;
Holt, Raiford, Cooley, Witherspoon—
We'll bless them all in song.
Hurrah for the builders,
The brave hearted builders,
The hard working builders,
And the crew that run the train."
* N.C.U. - contemporary reference to the University of North Carolina as North Carolina University, see the lyrics to "Hark the Sound" written in 1897: "Hark the sound of Tar Heel voices, Ringing clear and True, Singing Carolina's praises, Shouting N.C.U."
** hack - a coach or carriage kept for hire; hackney
***phaeton - any of various light, four-wheeled carriages, with or without a top, having one or two seats facing forward, used in the 19th century.