Pinebluff history began when the town was established as part of the
late-19th century effort to populate the Sandhills Region of the state and
thereby bring in some much needed economic stimulus. In the aftermath of the War
Between The States, the Sandhills Region had been heavily timbered, with most of
the longleaf pines either cut for lumber or boxed for turpentine. Seeking to
attract new residents, John Tyrant Patrick, the State Commissioner of
Immigration, helped to found and lay out the town of
In 1884, John Patrick moved his interests some seven miles south where he
purchased 772 acres, which had been cleared of usable lumber, from Luther and
Mary Speare, and 22 acres, including a millpond, from Peter Blue. The acreage
was to become Pinebluff and the millpond was to become Pinebluff Lake.
To entice new settlers to the area, Patrick advertised in Northern newspapers
and published brochures praising the terrain, the climate, and the healthful
advantages of the pine-scented air. Pinebluff's location alongside the tracks of
the Seaboard Air Line Railway, along with Patrick's position as Industrial Agent
for the Railway, were used to help develop the location as a winter resort.
Patrick also designed the layout of the town, organizing it on a rectangular
grid of streets and blocks. Two of the unique features of his design were the
100 feet wide street right-of-ways and center squares (each with four alleys
leading to it) in the middle of each residential block. The center squares have
been deeded over to surrounding households, but the extra wide streets remain,
with unpaved walkways lined by tall pines serving as footpaths for the town.
The names of Pinebluff's east-west avenues (Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia,
New England, and Boston) illustrate the areas from which Patrick hoped to
attract settlers, and have retained these names throughout Pinebluff history. Early residents of Pinebluff included the Couch family from
Tilton, New Hampshire, the Packards from Argyle, New York, the Achorns from
Boston, Massachusetts, and the Fiddners from Danbury, Connecticut.
In 1903, when the Railway failed to renew his contract and when a majority of
the citizens of Pinebluff failed to approve a tax to support his promotion of
the town, Patrick left the area, and went on to establish Chimney Rock, NC
before his death at the Southland Hotel in Southern Pines during the 1918
His home passed to a Mrs. Johnson, who operated it as a boarding house until
it burned in 1910. Patrick sold the majority of his property to the Pinebluff
Development and Improvement Company, owned by Dr. John W Achorn.
As befits a town named for its pines, Pinebluff has always been a pattern of
houses and buildings built in, among, and around numerous trees. Accordingly,
fire has been a constant feature of Pinebluff history. Originally conceived as
a resort, Pinebluff was the site of a number of early hotels. The town's first
hotel was completed in 1899, but it caught fire and burned to the ground before
it was able to open. Fire was the fate of every other hotel built in the town.
The second hotel was built in 1901 and burned in 1916, the third lasted from
1911 until 1924, and the last hotel was built in 1925 and lasted until it, too,
succumbed to fire in 1975. Fire was also the fate of many of the original homes
in Pinebluff, although a good number of the original structures still remain
Pinebluff NC was incorporated as a town in 1899, under the leadership of a
mayor and a five-member elected governing board. At that time, the population of the
town totaled 15 and seven of them comprised the town government and
administration. This same structure is in place today. A mayor and a five-person
Board of Commissioners serve two year terms with elections held in odd-numbered
Pinebluff's first street lights were kerosene and were attended to by
lamplighters, Mr. VanBoskerck and Mr. McDonald. The first electric lights were
powered by a dynamo located at the Pinebluff Lake dam. Lights were run from the
lake to the railway depot and colored lights were strung to catch the attention
of railroad passengers. Local power generators provided electricity to the town
until they were all absorbed by Carolina Power and Light.
Pinebluff lake was also the source of Pinebluff's first running water as water was
pumped from the lake to storage tanks on the west side of town. In 1913, the
town issued its first municipal bonds and purchased the water system. Today,
Pinebluff draws it water from four wells located on the western part of town.
The telegraph was Pinebluff's first electronic communications link. In 1893,
Western Union opened a telegraph office in the train depot. One year later, a
line was run from the center of town to the depot. In 1897, John Patrick
installed five primitive telephones in town. These were replaced when A. G.
Wallace installed a switchboard system in his home. The Wallace family operated
the switchboard system until 1957 when it was replaced by a dial system.
Pinebluff history did not evolve and turn this quiet town into a resort as its original founders desired.
Today, Pinebluff is still a
small, primarily residential, community of about 1,000 inhabitants. The
automobile has taken predominance over the railroad and the main thoroughfare
through Pinebluff is no longer the train tracks, but rather is the north-south
U.S. Highway 1.
Though the original sand streets and avenues have mostly been
paved, the town retains much
of its original character with its tree-lined roads and
walkways, its two original churches, its ecologically diverse
lake, and its mix of old and new homes in and amongst the pines
on a bluff in southern Moore County.
Does your family have ties to Pinebluff history? Tell us about it here.
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