A short history of Apex, North Carolina

Apex, North Carolina was dubbed Apex because it was the highest point on the Chatham Railroad route which ran between Florida and Virginia. The first train ran through town in 1869 and by 1873, the town was incorporated. Many people settled here and it was the typical Southern railroad town.

Apex was one of the first towns to spring up around Raleigh.  Due to the railroad, Apex became a hub for trading and shopping.  Today, it’s hard to believe that at the turn of the 20th century there were only 349 people living in Apex. That’s a far cry from today’s 34,000.  

Apex had two tragedies fairly close together in the early 1900s.  There were two large fires that destroyed much of the downtown area in 1905 and 1911.  The downtown area that exists today is being renovated to look as it once did but to be much safer.

Back in the day, Apex had a large amount of tobacco farmers, as the area is perfect to grow this crop.  Tobacco was just as important in the town’s growth and history as the railroad.  Apex had the first tobacco auction market in Wake County.

Apex was hit hard by the Great Depression and families left.  The population decreased and Apex remained a very small town until the 60s.  Research Triangle Park was created and Apex expanded, like the rest of the area.  

Recently, there was a huge renovation of the downtown area.  The Town Hall was redone and turned into the Halle Cultural Arts Center.  There’s new life in downtown Apex but it still looks very much like it did long ago.  In fact,  according to the Apex website, Apex was named “one of the best examples of an intact turn-of-the-century railroad town in North Carolina.”

It’s easy to see, when you take a walk downtown, the type of place Apex was when there were a lot less people in it.  But the lovely thing is, the glimmers of that are still here and while it isn’t really a small town anymore, it still feels like one.  

You can walk downtown and see your neighbors, shopkeepers greet you by name and it feels like home, even if you aren’t from Apex. Somehow, with all the growth that Apex has seen, it still maintains its small town feeling.  It’s easy to see why the town is referred to as, “The Peak of Good Living.”