If you ever ask anyone if they have heard of Hamlet, North Carolina, you may get plenty of strange looks. Then there are those who will mention the old William Shakespeare play. It is a south central North Carolina town that is little known by a vast majority of Americans, but because you have never heard of this town does not mean that this is just your average small town.
As you drive into Hamlet, it will appear to you as a one horse town. Then you will notice something. There is a railroad crossing here. Of course, many towns have railroad crossings or have railroads passing through them. As you drive more, you see more railroad crossings. You begin to see that this is a very special town.
This small town known as Hamlet was once the hub of the Seaboard Airline Railroad. During the Seaboard’s heyday, many trains ran through the town, and some stopped at the local railyard. Those operations are now under CSX who still run train through the ‘X’ crossing that the town was built around, and you can still see that ‘X’ which is next to the depot. This is not your ordinary depot. It does still operate as a working depot served by two Amtrak trains a day, but it is also a museum. The Victorian Queen Anne Depot (the only depot of this style in the state) houses a museum that depicts the history of Hamlet. A model train display shows how the town once looked like during the Seaboard days.
Now you think that you have seen everything. Be advised. There is more to see. Across the street is a caboose and the Seaboard 1114 on display. That is not all. You also have the Tornado Building. You are not interested in tornadoes? Worry not. You will be interested in the Tornado Steam Locomotive that is housed in the building. You also have another model train display. You can read more about the depot and museum and about the town’s annual events at http://www.hamlethistoricdepot.org.
By this time you now see that this is not you normal small town. This town is a rail fan’s heaven. However, there is more. At the end of October of each year, the Seaboard Festival, a festival commemorating the town’s railroad heritage, takes place.
Hamlet, North Carolina is in south central North Carolina. It is four miles from the South Carolina border and seventy miles east of Charlotte and forty miles west of Interstate 95. U.S. 74 passes by the town. U.S. 1 is a few miles west and U.S. Routes 15 and 301 run just east of the town.
Now you know about Hamlet, North Carolina, the ‘Hub of the Seaboard’ and ‘The Little Town That Does’. Take a drive to Hamlet. It could be one of the best drives you have ever made.