History of Public Works

Starting the first day Wilson came into being in January 1849, an uncommon effort has been required to maintain the passable flow of foot and wheel traffic.  That was the first service provided by the Public Services Department which now has telescoped into an impressive list of mankind required services that, together, form a key factor in Wilson’s outstanding livability.

In on of its first actions, the Town Board, 150 years ago, appointed Charles Kenyon as Overseer of Streets.  From that start Wilson now has a travel complex of miles and miles of streets, and all 259 miles are paved.

In 1890, creature requirements caused the Town Council to take actions that would greatly enlarge the services being provided to the Town’s offerings in Public Services.  A bond issue was taken to the citizens in a positive election that resulted in the Town’s Water services being created.  A Water Plant was built beside what is now Corbett Avenue at Toisnot Swamp.  Lines ware laid and water was soon flowing to the homes and businesses in Wilson.

Garbage was already being collected in a horse drawn wagon, which in a few years was replaced by a motor driven open body truck, then more trucks, and finally, packers similar to today’s models.

The first rudimentary water plant was replaced by a new plant attached to the electric power plant adjacent to the Atlantic Coast Line Rail line and Maplewood Cemetery. Additionally water services were provided when Contentnea Creek was dammed at Wiggins Mill beside Highway 301 in 1920.

In the modern era a second water treatment plant was built beside Wiggins Mill on Forest Hills Road and Contentnea Creek was dammed, again, at Buckhorn in Western Wilson County.  Meanwhile, Toisnot Swamp received two new dams, one to form Lake Wilson and another to form Toisnot Reservoir.  Currently, Wilson has taken another major step in water resources with the construction of a new and larger dam at Buckhorn on the Contentnea to double the size of the reservoir there.

Wilson began its handling of human wastes with the start of a system with sewer lines that transported the waste to Toisnot Swamp.  This first effort occurred about 1870.  That system has developed today into a large Wastewater delivery and treatment system that serves the industries, businesses, and homes of Wilson.  Actual treatment of sewage began here in 1939.  The nerve center of this operation is off Stantonsburg Road on Hominy Swamp.

Public Transit began in Wilson in 1967 with the start of City bus service.  This was coupled with privately operated rail service on two railroads, commercial intra city bus service, and City franchised Taxi Services.  The railroads came first and the first was instrumental in the founding of Wilson.  In an effort to centralize transportation services here, Wilson created the Transportation Center on East Nash and Lodge Streets, worked diligently for the restoration of the CSX Train Station across the street, and pushed hard for both Amtrack passenger services and North Carolina Stat Rail Services.

Private air traffic began in Wilson in the late Twenties with the development of a private airport along what is now Anderson Street.  This was followed by the development of the Wilson Airport, converting a World War II training facility which has now been transformed into the Wilson Industrial Air Center as a result of the development of the Wilson-Rocky Mount Airport which was built to provide the first commercial air service in the immediate Wilson area.