The Railroad and Incarcerated Labor (RAIL) Memorial Project

  • Black Mountain Public Library

  • Address: 105 N. Dougherty Street, Black Mountain, NC 28711
  • Times: 6:00 PM - 7:15 PM
  • Recurrence: 08/15/2022
  • Admission: Free to Museum Members, $5 for General Public
  • Contact: Swannanoa Valley Museum
  • Phone: (828) 669-9566
  • Email:

The construction of the Mountain Division of the Western North Carolina Railroad in the late 19th century is widely considered one of the greatest human accomplishments in regards to both engineering and construction ever undertaken at the time it occurred. However, most people are unaware that at least 95% of the labor which built the railroad across the Blue Ridge Escarpment was completed by inmates from the North Carolina State Penitentiary…and approximately 98% of those inmates were African American men, the majority of whom were unjustly imprisoned. In this presentation, members of the steering community of the Railroad and Incarcerated Labor (RAIL) Memorial Project, will discuss this history, the goals of the project, and discuss current and ongoing initiatives and fundraising needs. Cost: Free to museum members who use their promo codes, $5 for general admission (some fees apply).

Map loading icon