Boomtown
North Carolina

Downtown Charlotte, NC (1940s)
[North Carolina State Archives]

Beginning in the early 1940’s, North Carolina boomed with construction of military bases. From Fort Bragg – which quickly became North Carolina’s third largest city – to Camp LeJeune, Holly Ridge to Laurinburg-Maxton, Greensboro to Elizabeth City and points in between, the state bustled with activity. By the end of 1942, North Carolina had more soldiers than any other state. Wilmington was bustling for a different reason – with traffic and employees of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company. There, men and women of all races worked side by side round the clock churning out Liberty Ships – the first of which was the Zebulon B. Vance. While the explosive growth provided much-needed jobs, it also meant that some people had to leave their homes. Marlene Blake’s family was one of them. They were paid $1,000.00 for their Onslow County farm and given one year to leave – to make way for Camp LeJeune.

Videos

In this excerpt from Act Four (of 20), entitled “Boomtown North Carolina,” archival footage reveals the explosive expansion of NC’s Fort Bragg during WWII