The growing predominance of the railroad had much to do with the formation of Lee County in the early 1900s. In 1907, The North Carolina General Assembly selected pieces of the surrounding Moore and Chatham Counties to create Lee County. Even though it was one of the last counties to be formed in the state (98th), Lee County has been significant to the economy and welfare of North Carolina.
Lee County was named in honor of the iconic Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The county’s seat, Sanford, is named after the famous railroad engineer Colonel Charles Ogburn Sanford. Some other communities within Lee County include Broadway, Northview, Tramway, Lemon Springs, Swann Station, and Cumnock.
The small county of Lee has always held a relevance to the economy and events of North Carolina’s history. The Wilcox Iron Works Company contributed much to the state’s war achievements during the American Revolution. In 1855, North Carolina’s first coalmine company was established in the Egypt (now Cumnock) community. Lee County’s most famous accomplishment, both past and present, is brick manufacturing; the county is known to many as the “brick making capital” in the United States.
The Sanford Pottery Festival is one of Lee County’s biggest tourist attractions. Started in 2002, it is now considered North Carolina’s principal pottery festival.
William S. Powell, ed. Encyclopedia of North Carolina (University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, 2006) and Lee County Government website, “Lee County History.” http://www.leecountync.gov/History/EstablishmentofLeeCounty.aspx, (accessed June 27, 2011).
By Jonathan Martin, North Carolina History Project
See Also:Related Categories: Counties