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Hamlet, North Carolina
Clockwise from top left: Bank of Hamlet, Main Street, mural of Hamlet native John Coltrane on Vance Street, Hamlet Depot.
Clockwise from top left: Bank of Hamlet, Main Street, mural of Hamlet native John Coltrane on Vance Street, Hamlet Depot.
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Country United States
State North Carolina
County Richmond
Settled 1869
Incorporated February 9, 1897
 • Total 5.31 sq mi (13.75 km2)
 • Land 5.22 sq mi (13.53 km2)
 • Water 0.09 sq mi (0.22 km2)
299 ft (91 m)
 • Total 6,495
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,211.56/sq mi (467.78/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 910
FIPS code 37-29160
GNIS feature ID 1020599

Hamlet is a city in Richmond County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 6,495 at the 2010 census.


Hamlet is located at 34°53′17″N 79°42′22″W / 34.88806°N 79.70611°W / 34.88806; -79.70611 (34.887936, -79.706201).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.14 square miles (13.3 km2), of which 5.05 sq mi (13.1 km2) is land and 0.09 sq mi (0.23 km2) (1.75%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 639
1910 2,173 240.1%
1920 3,808 75.2%
1930 4,801 26.1%
1940 5,111 6.5%
1950 5,061 −1.0%
1960 4,460 −11.9%
1970 4,627 3.7%
1980 4,720 2.0%
1990 6,196 31.3%
2000 6,018 −2.9%
2010 6,495 7.9%
2019 (est.) 6,328 −2.6%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Hamlet racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 2,970 49.29%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 2,220 36.85%
Native American 139 2.31%
Asian 30 0.5%
Pacific Islander 2 0.03%
Other/Mixed 314 5.21%
Hispanic or Latino 350 5.81%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 6,025 people, 2,462 households, and 1,407 families residing in the city.

Hamlet chicken plant fire of 1991

On September 3, 1991, a grease fire broke out at the Imperial Foods chicken processing plant in the city, killing 25 people. A monument now stands where the plant was.[1] Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon wrote a song about this called "Hamlet Chicken Plant Disaster".

Additional information

Hamlet is at the junction of three major CSX rail lines, one running north towards Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as south towards Savannah, Georgia, and the second running east towards Wilmington, North Carolina, and west towards Bostic, North Carolina.At Monroe,N.C. the line splits NW to Charlotte and Bostic, and one continues west to Atlanta,Georgia, originally on to Birmingham,Alabama, however, tracks were removed in 1987. The third line splits off from the second just east of Hamlet and continues towards Charleston, South Carolina. It has been cited as the prime spot in North Carolina for train watchers.

The Hamlet Passenger Station, served by Amtrak, sits downtown at the junction of the lines. The station was restored and reopened in 2004. Hamlet yard resides to the north of downtown. This is the former Seaboard Air Line Railroad yard built in 1954, replacing an older yard closer to downtown. A six-axle diesel locomotive preserved on static display at the depot is the former Seaboard Air Line 1114, an EMD SDP35; one of only 35 ever built, it has been repainted into her original SAL scheme and numbered with her original number on "The Seaboard", 1114. A wooden caboose, SAL 5241, is coupled behind the locomotive.

The National Railroad Museum and Hall of Fame is also located in Hamlet.

Hamlet was the largest city in Richmond County at one time, but it has been surpassed by neighboring Rockingham. In the early part of the 20th Century, more than 30 trains stopped in Hamlet daily, en route to New York City, New Orleans, Suffolk and cities in Florida. Known as "The Hub of the Seaboard," Hamlet had seven hotels and numerous boarding houses and restaurants catering to transferring rail passengers. "Hamlet was like the Charlotte airport is today," said Miranda Chavis, manager of the railroad museum.

During its period as a major rail passenger transfer point, Hamlet had an opera house that counted Enrico Caruso among its performers.

The Annual Seaboard Festival, honoring the Seaboard Air Line, is a major local event.


In the 1960s, city license tags proclaimed Hamlet as "The Hub of The Seaboard."

The Seaboard Air Line merged with its rival, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, on July 1,1967, becoming the Seaboard Coast Line; in 1983 this became the Seaboard System, and in 1986, after combination with the holdings of the Chessie System, was renamed CSX Transportation. Recently the diesel repair shop, which first opened in 1954 but had later been closed, has been reopened and tracks that were removed in the 1980s were reinstalled to accommodate the growing diesel shop.

In addition to the Hamlet Passenger Station, the Main Street Commercial Historic District is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Hamlet is home to the Fairview Heights Elementary School, Monroe Avenue Elementary School, Hamlet Middle School, and Richmond County Ninth Grade Academy. High school students are served by the Richmond Senior High School, located west of the city. The Richmond Community College, which serves Richmond and Scotland counties, was established in Hamlet in 1964. It maintains a 160-acre campus adjacent to U.S. Route 74 and offers associate degrees.

Notable people

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