Winston-Salem Sanborn Maps Online

In response to the lopsided victory in favor of the Camel City in the Sanborn map vote a few weeks ago, we’ve begun to add maps of Winston-Salem to the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map section of North Carolina Maps.

The first set of maps is from 1885, back before the cities were formally joined and were still known as Winston and Salem. I knew this was a tobacco town, but I had no idea of the extent to which the industry dominated the city. In the brief directory on the first page of the 1885 map I counted twenty-five different tobacco factories, all located within a few blocks of each other. And that’s just the factories — there were also tobacco warehouses, tobacco prizing houses, and at least one cigar factory. All this in two communities whose combined population was just 8,000. Was there any place in the United States — or in the world, for that matter — where it was easier to get a smoke?

Detail from page one of the 1885 Winston and Salem Sanborn Map

One thought on “Winston-Salem Sanborn Maps Online”

  1. And there were at least fourteen more tobacco factories scattered around the county outside of town. They all made chewing tobacco or smoking tobacco (for pipes) or both. As far as we know, none of them made cigarettes until the 20th century.

    The cigar manufacturer was one of the city’s early entrepreneurs, Dr. V. O. Thompson. Some of his brands were “Queen Sumara,” “Wachovia,” “Red Elephant” and “Rough and Ready.” Thompson was also a partner in a mens clothing business and the proprietor of V.O. Thompson’s Drug Store, which operated on Fourth Street across from the courthouse well into the 1920s.

    Thompson’s was thehangout and gossip center for those in the know for many years until challenged by E.W. O’Hanlon’s Drug Store right across the street in the early 1900s.

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