Tabor City, North Carolina

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Tabor City, North Carolina
Welcome Arch, June 2010
Welcome Arch, June 2010
Tabor City, North Carolina is located in North Carolina
Tabor City, North Carolina
Tabor City, North Carolina
Location within the state of North Carolina
Coordinates: 34°8′55″N 78°52′19″W / 34.14861°N 78.87194°W / 34.14861; -78.87194Coordinates: 34°8′55″N 78°52′19″W / 34.14861°N 78.87194°W / 34.14861; -78.87194
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Columbus
 • Mayor Royce Harper
 • Total 2.9 sq mi (7.6 km2)
 • Land 2.9 sq mi (7.6 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 105 ft (32 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 2,511
 • Density 852.2/sq mi (329.0/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 28463
Area code(s) 910
FIPS code 37-66520[1]
GNIS feature ID 0995822[2]
Website Tabor City, NC

Tabor City is a city in Columbus County, North Carolina, United States. It is the southernmost town in Columbus County which is one of North Carolina's largest counties in land area.[3] It is located just north of the North Carolina/South Carolina line, about 30 miles northwest of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It is just north of Loris, South Carolina. The population was 2,511 as of the 2010 Census.


- 1750: Native America Era[edit]

Before the arrival of whites, the area was home to the Cape Fear Indians, the Waccamaw Indians, and the Saponas. The Waccamaws were a peaceful tribe and when the whites began to show up they withdrew and joined the Catawbas further west, and some, at least, joined the Seminoles in Florida. It is said that the celebrated chief of the Seminoles, Osceola, was born on the Waccamaw River, and tradition says that his father was John Powell, a white man living in the present-day area of Columbus County.[4]

1760s - 1830s: Revolutionary War Era[edit]

During the Revolutionary War, men from the area joined with the rebels in the Battle of Brown Marsh. The Loyalist won, marking the high point of their efforts to defeat the revolution in the southern theater.[5] Men from the area may have also aided the American Forces in the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, which had a much more favorable outcome for the Americans.

1840s - 1903s Town Founding, Area Businesses Activity Begins[edit]

The town was named after Mount Tabor Baptist Church which was organized shortly after 1840 (now Tabor City Baptist Church), which itself is named after the biblical Mount Tabor. Originally named Mt. Tabor, the town adopted its current name after postal authorities confused it with Tarboro, North Carolina.[6] The town was officially incorporated in 1905.[7] A tree located at the local Dale's Seafood Restaurant has been recognized as being older than the town itself.[8]

Business activity started in Tabor City by the mid-1850s, with the developmental operation of a saw mill, turpentine still, grocery store and dry goods store. Atlantic Coast Line Railroad located a terminus inthe town in 1886. The first tobacco warehouse was built in 1909, a crate factory was built in 1910 and Waccamaw Lumber Companies began in the 1940s. The railroad used the name Mt. Tabor and the post office used Tabor until the mid-1930s when both were changed to Tabor City.

1940s - 1970s : Horace Carter Era[edit]

During the 1940s and 1950s, the area had two movie theaters one of which was named the Ritz Theater.[9] In the early 1970s, the Ritz closed and the theater then lay dormant for years, eventually becoming an empty shell. A revitalization effort is complete, and the former theater is now the Ritz Center, a community center for the arts. [10] [11]

The Tabor City Tribune is a weekly newspaper established by W. Horace Carter (a Stanly County native) in 1946. In 1950, after witnesses a Klu Klux Klan motorcade going through town, Carter began writing a series of editorials and reports critical of Klan activity.[12] Along with the Whiteville News Reporter, the Tribune was awarded the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its editorials against the Ku Klux Klan.[13] The Pulitzer Prize citation stated that the newspapers were awarded the prize "for their successful campaign against the Ku Klux Klan, waged on their own doorstep at the risk of economic loss and personal danger, culminating in the conviction of over one hundred Klansmen and an end to terrorism in their communities."[14] The newspapers were the first weeklies to win a Pulitzer Prize. The name of the Tabor City Tribune was changed to the Tabor-Loris Tribune in 1996.

The small W. Horace Carter Newspaper Museum in Tabor City at the Tabor-Loris Tribune offices has exhibits on Carter's life and work.[15][16] A documentary of the struggles between Carter and the Klan, titled The Editor and the Dragon: Horace Carter Fights the Klan was shown on the North Carolina Public Broadcasting System in 2013, on the 50th anniversary of the struggle.[17]

Due to crimes in the area in the late 1950s and 1960s, especially fights at local bars, Tabor City earned the Razor City nickname during the mid 20th century, though as many of the crimes occurred in South Carolina, the Razor/Tabor near rhyme stuck.[18][19]

As tobacco use declined beginning in the 1970s, the economy of the area suffered. Tobacco warehouses began closing, and the area suffered an economic downturn.

1980s to Present: Rebirth[edit]

Today, the town focuses on agriculture, light manufacturing, retail and tourism. In addition, a large state prison provides many jobs for the area. Being so close to the coastal areas of Myrtle Beach, SC and the Brunswick County, NC beaches has led to an expected growth in the area housing industry.[6] A series of new apartment complexes has also been recently[timeframe?] completed.

Once known as the "Yam Capital of the World", Tabor City pays tribute to the area's sweet potato crop with the annual North Carolina Yam Festival every fourth Saturday in October. The festival celebrates the sweet potato with crafts, train rides, arts and vendors.[20]

The Freedom Flag Trilogy located at the entrance to town also celebrates the town's history,[21] as does the Centennial Clock celebrating the town's 100th anniversary.

A referendum to allow restaurants in the town to sell mixed drinks failed in a 2013 election by one vote.[22]


Tabor City normally has mild winters with pleasant springs and falls. Summers, however, can be hot an humid.[23]


In addition to the annual Yam Festival, touring the one room school house, the Horace Carter Museum and the recreational activities of Lake Tabor, the area offers a number of other attractions. Some of the attractions offered are a winery and RV park,[24] camping,[25] restaurants, a 1920s restaurant/boarding house,[26] a railroad depot and annual cornfield maze.[27] A visitors center in the middle of town assists tourist and locals with these and other activities. The visitor center is undergoing a series of improvements, funded partially by a $100,000 North Carolina Department of Transportation allocation.[28]

Based somewhat on the success of the fall Yam Festival, an annual spring festival was inaugurated in 2013, celebrating the Town and people of the area. This week long festival offers several activities.[29]

The Tabor City Public Library is open weekdays.[30] In addition, it serves at the headquarters/center for the Yam Festival.

During the Yam festival, an annual art show is held.[31]

The area also boast several restaurants and shops, and boating events are often held at Lake Tabor.[32] Tabor City also has several parks and athletic fields as part of the Columbus County Parks and Recreation Department.[33] A business in town offers access to batting cages.

Hunting and fishing are also popular activities, as well as the over 100 golf courses within 40 miles of the town. A local campground also has a small waterpark.[34]

A senior center is open near the lake,[35] and there are a large number of churches in and around the town.[36]


As of the United States census[1] of 2010, there were 3,975 people, 1,095 households, and 627 families residing in the town. The population density was 852.2 people per square mile (329.5/km²). There were 1,239 housing units at an average density of 379.1 per square mile (146.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 59.2% White, 36.2% African American, 1.1% Native American, 0.02% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 1.5% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.3% of the population.

Of the 1,095 households, 23% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.5% were married couples living together, 17.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.7% were non-families. 28.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.99. The town has shown marked growth in the last 14 years.[37]

In the town the population was spread out with .4.2% under the age of 18, 5.7% from 20 to 24, 21.3% from 25 to 44, 29.4% from 45 to 64, and 19.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years.

The median income for a household in the town was $25,469, and the median income for a family was $40,044. Males had a median income of $32,528 versus $20,804 for females. The per capita income for the town was $17,922. About 16.9% of families and 21.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.7% of those under age 18 and 22.5% of those age 65 or over.


Today, the town focuses on agriculture, light manufacturing, retail and tourism. In addition, a large state prison provides many jobs for the area. Being so close to the coastal areas of Myrtle Beach, SC and the Brunswick County, NC beaches has led to the expected growth in the area housing industry.[6]

The Tabor City Industrial Park is located just northwest of town, a 36-acre certified industrial site perfect for small to medium sized users seeking 5 to 10 acres of land. Existing tenants include Southeastern Materials and the Tabor City Business Development Center.[38][39]

Carolina Southern stopped railroad service to the town in 2012, and efforts to restore service have proven difficult.[40]

The town is served by two grocery stores, three drug stores, a growing number of restaurants and four banks and a credit union. Two hardware stores also operate in the town.

The Tabor City Chamber of Commerce maintains a both a Facebook presence[41] and its own website.[42] In 2013, the president of the Tabor City Chamber of Commerce was arrested on assault charges.[43]

The town has also upgraded its water, sewer and roads, to help attract new businesses.[44]


Tabor City is located at 34°8′55″N 78°52′19″W / 34.14861°N 78.87194°W / 34.14861; -78.87194 (34.148621, -78.872073).[45]. It is approximately 30 miles from the ocean at North Myrtle Beach, SC.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.9 square miles (7.5 km2), all of it land. It is located on the border with South Carolina, about 30 miles (48 km) inland from the Atlantic, 28 miles (45 km) north of Myrtle Beach, and 58 miles (93 km) west of Wilmington. The town also contains Lake Tabor, a 149 acre recreational lake.[21]

Nearest cities: Loris, SC (7 miles ), Longs, SC (13.27 miles ), Floyds, SC (15.74 miles ), Conway, SC (15.36 miles ), Cerro Gordo, NC (4.3 miles ), Aynor, SC (16.5 miles ), Chadbourn, NC (4.3 miles ), Nichols, SC (4.4 miles ).[5]

Nearest city with pop. 50,000+: Wilmington, NC (57.2 miles, pop. 75,838).

Nearest city with pop. 200,000+: Raleigh, NC (122.5 miles, pop. 276,093).

Nearest city with pop. 1,000,000+: Philadelphia, PA (459.8 miles, pop. 1,517,550).

US Route 701 runs through the town in a generally north-south direction, while North Carolina Highway 904 generally runs thorough the town in an east-west direction. The two highways intersect at the center of town. In addition, a business loop of US 701 serves also as the main business corridor in Tabor. North Carolina Highway 410 starts at the NC/SC state line before going through the town and continuing on to Chadbourn, N.C.


Tabor City has a town mayor, and a town council. While on the town council, a former councilman spent time behind bars for assault on a female.[46] Former candidates for the town council in 1991 also had criminal records.[47]

Law enforcement[edit]

Tabor City has its own police department.[48] As of April 2014, the police chief is Donald Dowless.[49] In addition, the city is also served by the Columbus County Sheriff.[50] As of April 2014, the sheriff is Lewis Hatcher.

The crime rate in Tabor City is somewhat lower than surrounding cities of a similar size.[37]


In addition to the Tabor-Loris Tribune, published weekly since 1946, the town is served by AM-1370 station WTAB. The feed is also available on line at

Television, radio and daily newspapers from Wilmington, NC, Fayetteville, NC, Florence, SC and Myrtle Beach, SC are easily accessible to the residents of the city.

Cable TV is provided by Time Warner for the majority of the city as well as Atlantic Telephone Membership Cooperative in the outlying areas.[51]

Internet services are available by the two cable companies, as well as Centurylink. Free internet is available at the local public library.


Tabor City is home to South Columbus High School.[52] Prior to South Columbus High School was Tabor City High School, which closed in 1992. The former Tabor City High School facility now houses Tabor City Elementary School. Tabor City Middle School houses grades 6 through 8. These schools are part of the Columbus County School System.

In addition, a charter school, the Roger Bacon Academy Columbus Charter School[53] and an early college high school, the Columbus Career and College Academy[54] serve the area. Colleges close by include Southeastern Community College (North Carolina), Horry-Georgetown Technical College and Coastal Carolina University.

A circa 1900 One Room School House was restored by the historical society of Tabor City and Columbus County. This facility was purchased and donated to the Town of Tabor City by Richard Wright. A 3-D tour of the schoolhouse is available on-line, allowing visitors to come and relive the old days when life “was simple and oh so mellow”.[55]

The one-room school house may represent North Carolina in a forthcoming book about historic school buildings in the United States.[56] It has previously been features in state-wide magazines.[57]

Tabor City Prison[edit]

The Tabor Correctional Institution, part of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety Division of Prisons, opened in 2008, and houses 1,402 inmates,[58] providing over 500 jobs to the economically depressed area. The prison is a mixed classification facility, resulting in inmates classified from minimum to maximum control levels being housed within. In June 2014 a new facility will be added to house an additional 252 inmate and will create an additional 70 new jobs to the area[59] making it one of the largest prisons in the state. TCI is located two miles (3 km) northwest from the center of Tabor City.[60] The prison construction began in May 2006 and was completed in April 2008.[61]

Since its opening, the prison has suffered through numerous controversies, including leadership accused of forcing employees to pay the administrator, appointed to the post in 2012 [62] for promotions through a "fundraising" campaign,[63] a guard providing sex and tobacco to an inmate,[64] officers committing theft,[65][66] officers dealing drugs,[67] officers bringing drugs into the prison for inmates,[68] inmates charged with assaulting officers,[69][70] and the death of a 39 year old inmate,[71] as well as improper medical care for inmates.[72] The state found no wrongdoing in the fundraising effort, but halted the program.[73]

Further, at the new addition to the prison, cell phones and marijuana were found during the construction of the addition, apparently in an effort to smuggle the items into the prison.[74] Also, North Carolina Prison guards are paid at the lower end of the national scale. [75]

A Matthew 25 center is planned near the prison in the future.[76]

Famous residents[edit]


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  49. ^ Tabor City Police Department
  50. ^ Home
  51. ^ ATMC Residential - Broadband, Wireless, Telephone, Cable, Security
  52. ^ South Columbus High School
  53. ^ The Roger Bacon Academy
  54. ^ Columbus Career and College Academy Home Page
  55. ^ OneRoomArchive
  56. ^ Mt. Tabor School is chosen for 50 State Book | Tabor City Promotions
  57. ^ OneRoomArchive
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  60. ^
  61. ^ Norment Security Group » Tabor Correctional Institution
  62. ^
  63. ^ Fundraising campaign at Tabor prison under investigation - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports
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  65. ^ Corrections officer arrested for theft - Time Warner Cable News
  66. ^
  67. ^ US NC: Two Prison Guards Charged With Trafficking Prescription Meds
  68. ^
  69. ^
  70. ^
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  72. ^ ONLY ON 3: Prison officials investigate inmate's illness | WWAY NewsChannel 3 | Wilmington NC News
  73. ^ Investigation of questionable prison fundraising complete - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC
  74. ^ 20 bags of pot, 4 cell phones discovered in hole near jail
  75. ^
  76. ^ Center makes it convenient to visit inmates | WWAY NewsChannel 3 | Wilmington NC News
  77. ^ Stonewall Jackson | Biography | AllMusic
  78. ^ R.C. Soles will not run for re-election in 2010 - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC
  79. ^ R.C. Soles timeline |
  80. ^ Taffy Wright Statistics and History -

External links[edit]