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for Wilson, James William, 1832-1910
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Southern Railroad's tracks crisscross North Carolina, but in McDowell County the tracks gained fame. The railway to Asheville experienced several height grading problems in the 1880s. The elevation grade prevented direct service to Asheville. Major James Wilson took control of the project and experimented with unique ideas of increasing track length between grade points, which allows for longer distances of travel to climb the proper elevation. The tracks even use a round valley as a type of centrifuge point to gain altitude and became famous for the unique ideas used to solve railway problems.
Lawrence takes a brief look at three Majors from Burke County. Alphonso C. Avery who served on the staff of his brother-in-law General Daniel Harvey Hill during the Civil War, and then later a Judge of the Superior Court and the NC Supreme Court; Samuel McD. Tate served in the 26th NC Regiment and later served in the General Assembly and as the NC Treasurer; and James W. Wilson who saw action in battle during the Civil War. Wilson was chief engineer on the railroad building project through the mountains and later the first Railroad Commission chairman.