In all available articles on early Fairmont, each of them indicated that the village languished economically until the arrival of the Southeastern Railroad. I have seen very little, however, to indicate exactly what enticed them to run a rail line through our village.
After Dr. John P. Brown graduated from medical school at the University of Maryland in 1886, he did graduate work for two or three years before returning to our area. In 1892, he was appointed local surgeon for the Atlantic Coast Line railroad, which already had a north/south track through Robeson County.
The following is pure conjecture based on Dr. Brown's later actions.
I believe that Dr. Brown knew the area well and knew about the Chadbourn area's strawberry farms. He figured out that the shortest route to the strawberries was through Ashpole, Proctorville and Boardman and set out to get the powers that be to build a line through our community. In 1896 he began receiving inquiries about timber, timber lands and timber rights from people like A. L. Jones. Jones was running a timber operation in Buie, near Pembroke and the ACL north/south line. A judicious inquiry by Brown to ACL operations likely started the ball rolling.
In 1898 the line was completed to Ashpole, South Eastern Lumber Company began operation and Elijah Fisher was transferred here to be the depot agent. Finished lumber began being shipped almost immediately.
Based on Dr. Brown's reputation as a promoter and salesman, I believe that this is a likely scenario.
Preparing cotton for shipment just after completion of Southeastern Railroad. Photo credit: "L" Floyd, used with permission.