Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sanford - Lee County History

The City of Sanford and the geographic area it covers enjoy a rich vibrant history. From its earliest days as a prominent central North Carolina railroad hub, to its emergence as the country’s most prolific producers of brick products and now its place as a diverse, vibrant and steadily growing community, Sanford has a lot to be proud of!

Long before the Town of Sanford was incorporated in 1874, the area played a role in Revolutionary and Civil War history.  A visit to local landmarks such as the House in the Horseshoe and Endor Iron Furnace can provide more information about the area’s distant past.

Sanford was originally part of Moore County and the crossroad of the Western and Chatham Railroads.  Colonel C.O. Sanford played a prominent role in the development of railroad lines in the area and the community is named in his honor.

As Sanford and the neighboring communities of Jonesboro and Broadway continued to grow around the beginning of the 20th century, Lee County was formed by drawing land largely from Moore and Chatham Counties. In 1947, Jonesboro and Sanford merged to become the City of Sanford.  The traditional area of Jonesboro is now known as Jonesboro Heights, and remains a unique and dynamic part of the community.

Although agriculture and textiles have long played an important part in Sanford’s economy, the rare qualities of the earth itself are most responsible for the area’s leading export.  The intermingling of Piedmont clay and beach sand has provided Lee County with the perfect ingredients for brick making.  As recently as a half century ago, roughly one-tenth of bricks produced in America were made in Sanford.  To this day, North Carolina and Texas are the country’s leading brick manufacturers and companies such as General Shale and Lee Brick & Tile maintain the tradition that earned Sanford the title of “Brick Capital of the USA.”

Over time, the economy of Sanford and Lee County has become more diverse. According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, only the local school system employs more people in Lee County than Coty, LLC – a world-wide leader in the creation of beauty products. Static Control Components – a manufacturer of laser toner & inkjet cartridges, Caterpillar, Pilgrim’s Pride, Central Carolina Community College, Moen, Pfizer, and Central Carolina Hospital are among other diverse organizations that are among the area’s largest employers.

At the same time that the region has enjoyed the contributions of large manufacturers and other corporations, the area has also witnessed the rejuvenation of Sanford’s historic downtown and Jonesboro Heights areas. With a steady, manageable growth in population, an active arts & entertainment scene, lots of scenic beauty, and extremely affordable property values, it could be argued that Sanford’s brightest history chapters have yet to be written.

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