The town of Saluda, North Carolina, is home to the steepest standard-gauge mainline railway grade in the United States, with a gradient of 4.7%.
Beaufort County, North Carolina has a rich and storied history that dates back to the early settlement of the region. The area that would become Beaufort County was originally inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Pamlico and Tuscarora. European settlers arrived in the late 17th century, with the establishment of Bath in 1705 as the county seat. Bath became the first town in North Carolina and remained an important colonial port until the 18th century.

During the American Revolutionary War, Beaufort County played a significant role as a strategic location. The county saw skirmishes and battles, such as the Battle of Bath in 1782, which marked the last naval engagement of the war. After the war, the county grew and prospered, with agriculture becoming a key industry. The county's location on the Pamlico River facilitated trade, and plantations flourished, relying heavily on enslaved labor.

In the mid-19th century, Beaufort County experienced a thriving steamboat industry, with towns like Washington and Belhaven becoming important river ports. However, the Civil War had a devastating impact on the region. Union forces occupied the area, and many plantations and towns were destroyed. The economic struggles continued after the war with the decline of the plantation system and the rise of sharecropping and tenant farming.

In the 20th century, Beaufort County adapted to changing times and focused on diversifying its economy. The county became a hub for manufacturing, particularly in the textile industry. It also became known for its commercial fishing, which remains an important industry today. With its picturesque coastal landscapes, historic towns, and agricultural heritage, Beaufort County has become a popular destination for tourism and outdoor recreation.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Beaufort County, North Carolina.

  • 1705: Beaufort County is established as part of Bath County.
  • 1712: Bath County is divided, and Beaufort County becomes a separate entity.
  • 1776: During the American Revolutionary War, British forces occupy Beaufort County.
  • 1785: Washington becomes the county seat of Beaufort County.
  • 1811: The town of Washington is officially incorporated.
  • 1820s-1830s: Construction of the Pamlico and Tar Rivers' canal system greatly boosts the county's economy.
  • 1849: A devastating fire destroys much of the town of Washington.
  • 1862: Beaufort County serves as a Union Army base during the American Civil War.
  • 1907: The Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad arrives in the county, spurring further economic growth.
  • 1940s: The United States military establishes several air bases in Beaufort County during World War II.
  • 1989: Hurricane Floyd causes extensive flooding in Beaufort County.
  • 2008: The town of Washington celebrates its bicentennial.