History of Hamlet
A few homes scattered among the pine trees on the banks of a clear pure stream called Marks Creek was called Sandhills. Nestled deep in the North Carolina Sandhills, Hamlet was founded in the late 1800's when an Englishman named John Shortridge established a woolen and saw mill along Marks Creek.
In 1870, a railroad running from Wilmington passed through Hamlet to the Pee Dee River where it connected to a line leading to Charlotte. A railroad was being built from Raleigh to Augusta, GA., and it was through the influence of the early settler that the track was laid through Hamlet.
Tradition says that Mr. Shortbridge in 1873, in a conversation with three of his friends, L.L. McKinnon, Thomas Steel, and Elisha "Champ" Terry, told them that in his native England a small cluster of houses were called a hamlet. Thus the town was named Hamlet, and to commemorate the naming of the town, the men planted a sycamore tree which stood until 1946 when it was cut down to make way for a building.
Incorporated in 1897, Hamlet grew as railroad workers settled in the town, and businesses prospered as trains on the New York to Florida run brought weary and hungry passengers to Hamlet. By 1936 Hamlet was dubbed the "Hub of the Seaboard" with five Seaboard Railroad line leading out of Hamlet and about thirty passenger trains leaving each day.
The Rail Road Passenger Station (circa 1895), visible from the train tracks, is registered as a Historic Landmark and is said to be the most photographed station in the eastern United States. Hamlet businessmen have renovated the birthplace of John Coltrane, (1926-1967), a famous jazz musician and composer.