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Old 03-29-2011, 11:41 AM
 
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I live in Raleigh, but I have had to work in Washington several days a week. As I drive through, I notice a ton of old, boarded up businesses. It looks like the town may have been vibrant at one time. Is this true? And if so, what happened? Is it a thing where a lot of factories closed and eliminated a lot of jobs?

Also, I'd like to know--what keeps folks down this way? I've been through Beaufort, Martin and Bertie Counties recently, and I am curious--what jobs are here? What do folks do here for fun? Did anybody who lives in these areas ever leave and come back?
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Old 03-29-2011, 01:42 PM
 
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Nah the last boom period might have been in the early 1800s. All those places you listed have pretty much always been rural and reliant on agriculture.
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:38 PM
 
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Wow. In Washington, I see a TON of empty car dealerships, boat dealerships, and other businesses. I figured there was a "boom" in the 80s or something, some big factory that employed thousands and made the town something different than it is. I see I was wrong!

Another thing I noticed down that way that I rarely see in the Triangle--abandoned houses. Like not foreclosures or boarded up houses in bad neighborhoods, I'm talking houses that look as if they were nice 20, 30, 40+ years ago, that for whatever reason, somebody or somebodies just left and never returned to. There are TONS of them. Just boarded up, falling down houses and empty trailers. I find that so odd. In the Triangle, there would either be sqautters or someone would have razed the homes and slapped up some apartments!
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:48 PM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
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Almost every little town in eastern NC is "dried up" from its former self, which probably hasn't existed since the 1970s. Mostly due to the loss of agricultural and manufacturing jobs in this part of the state since then.

Here is the Wikipedia entry on Washington to read a little about the town's history; Check the links at the bottom for their own versions. If you are new to NC, you can't understand the influence that tobacco used to have on the state's economy, and most of Eastern NC was kept afloat by tobacco farmers. Since far fewer people smoke anymore, and the tobacco buyout, many fortunes have been lost

No, it was never "booming" in the sense of thousands all moving there, but it, and all of those other towns down that way, had a humming economy and an "Andy Griffith" lifestyle back in the 60s/70s (and probably before; I can only speak for my own lifetime). Many people at least used to have second homes on the river in Washington. Now, like most of Eastern NC, SC, and VA, it's one of those towns that the kids who are able to move away, leave when they finish school and don't come back.
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Old 03-29-2011, 09:03 PM
 
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I'm not really "new" to NC--born and raised in Durham--but Durham was a little on the "country" side when I was growing up. We had a big tobacco culture ourselves, but as I'm sure you know, we were able to make the transition to a different economy based on RTP, area universities, and companies (and buttloads of people, LOL) moving to the Triangle. I actually never spent much time "Down East", except a stint in New Bern for a little under a year. So my current travels to the Eastern part of the state--not just Washington, but several counties down that way--has been interesting and eye-opening. It's kind of sad in a way, to see the towns kind of fizzle out. It would be wonderful if we could find a way to switch to a new cash-crop put all that land to use, and revitalize these parts of the state! What about the corn-based biofuels folks are talking so much about?
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Old 03-29-2011, 10:08 PM
 
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Welcome to almost every other small town in eastern NC. When tobacco went, so did the economy. Just like textiles in the western part of the state.

I am not an expert on Washington, but it seems their main economic engine is being the bedroom community of Greenville
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Old 03-30-2011, 01:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Special_Guest View Post
It would be wonderful if we could find a way to switch to a new cash-crop put all that land to use, and revitalize these parts of the state! What about the corn-based biofuels folks are talking so much about?
Heh, people have been trying to find the magic crop since before the tobacco settlement; there isn't one. I remember back in the late 80s as tobacco was dying out when everyone was crowing that soybeans were gonna save the region! Compounding the problem is the nature of factory farming requires far less manpower and cheap land means huge swaths are owned by out of state corporations or contracted to local farmers who use migrant labor which further depresses local wages, on top of the shift to a primarily retail service-based economy. And yet these giant firms still receive billions in direct cash payment subsidies.

It sounds silly, but if marijuana were legalized, it would have the most potential as a large scale cash crop. The soil types in the eastern part of the state have near-optimal pH and nutrient profiles and the growing season is highly favorable as well. NC is in the top five outdoor-based marijuana producing states, with well over half a billion dollars worth of annual product we're not collecting taxes on. Slightly more seriously, industrial hemp would thrive just as well in the same environment. The US is the world's leading importer of industrial hemp, and there's no reason we couldn't be a net exporter.
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Old 03-30-2011, 08:03 AM
 
Location: Blue Ridge Mntns., NC
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Originally Posted by MrBojangles View Post
Welcome to almost every other small town in eastern NC. When tobacco went, so did the economy. Just like textiles in the western part of the state.

I am not an expert on Washington, but it seems their main economic engine is being the bedroom community of Greenville

How would that relate to the economy of a bedroom community when it sounds like the town is run down and there are so many abandoned properties? Bedroom communities are usually the pride of an area, well kept, where people want to be outside of a city.

If it is or was such a quant town with a pretty harbor etc., I'd think real estate would be a good investment. ? At least a nice retirement area with small shops etc. I've also read that Greenville NC has many shabby areas and crime is on the upswing there. What's going on ?
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Old 03-30-2011, 08:35 AM
 
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Little Washington does have a cluster of shops and resturants around the waterfront. When we rode thought in the fall there were several blocks, and on that Saturday there was a lot of foot traffic. The waterfront is beautiful and affordable, and can see the appeal of that part of Washington. A trip to Greenville once a week or two would keep the pantry stocked, and so forth.
If you want to make a living as a farmer, you have to have a level of drive and determination that for the most part this generation does not have. I know from firsthand experience. And the lack of respect that farmers are giving is very disappointing, my family works extremely hard, and follows organic practices, conservation etc. But it takes a special kind of individuals to do this, and they are sadly not around these days. Hope they comeback before we are exporting all of our food supply. Because on that day, our nation will be at the complete control of someone else, and we will be in deep trouble. That food is not grown in the back of the store, like many people believe.
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Old 03-30-2011, 08:45 AM
 
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Washington does have a pretty nice waterfront...i've enjoyed going down there on many occasions and walked the boardwalk around the estuarium. Like many towns, Washington lost retail and neighborhoods to the outskirts of town. I guess Walmart probably took a lot of business from the older parts of town. It seems like a lot of the "money" in Washington is in the historic areas and in the outskirts of town on the east side towards Bath.

Also...the main highways that run through Washington take you right through the bad parts. Cities like Raleigh and Charlotte have those two...you can just bypass them on an interstate and then get lost in suburbia...
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