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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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by Virginia Gunn Fick and Richard D. Starnes, 2006
Additional research provided by David Stick.

Resorts and resort towns in North Carolina grew naturally out of the state's varied landscape and geographic features. The cool mountain air and the restorative waters of the mineral springs, or the sea breezes and salty surf of the Atlantic Ocean, promised relief to those threatened by malaria and yellow fever and remedy for those suffering from bronchial problems, dyspepsia, or rheumatism. Consequently, North Carolina's resort towns were primarily health spas from the 1830s to the 1920s. The state's geographical assets amply qualified it for resort status, but development of resort towns depended on investment capital (much of it from beyond the state's borders) and the building of railroads in the nineteenth century and roads in the twentieth century. Beginning in the 1920s, resort growth was fed by the coming of the automobile age, by post-World War II prosperity, and by the modern belief that vacations are beneficial even if one is not plagued by health problems. By 1930 resorts had become an important component of the state economy and a major social and cultural force in local communities.

Keep Reading >> Resorts- Part 2: Resorts of Western North Carolina Keep reading


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Guion G. Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social History (1937).

Sydney Nathans, The Quest for Progress: The Way We Lived in North Carolina, 1870-1920 (1983).

Alan D. Watson, Wilmington: Port of North Carolina (1992)