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Robbins, North Carolina
Central business district of Robbins
Central business district of Robbins
Location in Moore County and the state of North Carolina.
Location in Moore County and the state of North Carolina.
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Moore
 • Total 1.59 sq mi (4.12 km2)
 • Land 1.59 sq mi (4.12 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
440 ft (134 m)
 • Total 1,097
 • Estimate 
 • Density 766.96/sq mi (296.06/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 910
FIPS code 37-57000
GNIS feature ID 0993441

Robbins is a city in Moore County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 1,097 at the 2010 census.


Mechanics Hill Sign Robbins NC
Historical marker on top of Mechanics Hill recalling the Kennedy Rifle Works.

The Town, now known as Robbins, actually began in 1795 when gunsmith Alexander Kennedy and his family left Philadelphia to settle along Bear Creek. Kennedy set up a factory, which produced long rifles for American soldiers, near the site of the present day Robbins Water Plant. The Kennedy rifle works continued in operation until 1838 and the place became known as Mechanics Hill.

In 1891, the Durham and Charlotte Railroad railway connected Gulf, in Chatham County, to Troy, in Montgomery County. The railroad reached Mechanics Hill around 1899. Railroad construction added many jobs and greatly increased the number of settlers. The railroad not only created its own jobs, it generated commerce by providing a ready means of transportation for turpentine, talc, pottery, lumber, agricultural products, and passengers. John B. Lennig was President and owner of the company. Mr. Lennig was here, off and on, for about 12 years. During that time, town lots and streets were designed. A map was registered at the Moore County Register of Deeds Office on March 24, 1900 and the Town was named Elise, in honor of Lennig's daughter.

In 1896, the John L. Frye Company, a producer of lumber for the rail and pallet industries, was established. Railroads across the US are supported by cross ties still made here in Robbins today.

Education was a major concern for the citizens of Elise and the surrounding communities. Some local businessmen and Mr. Lennig met many times to discuss these concerns. These meetings resulted in the founding of Elise Academy in 1904. The academy had a very proud standing and children from here, and from other states and countries, attended this first class establishment. Elise Academy operated until 1940, when it was sold to the Moore County Board of Education.

In 1890,the great inventor Thomas Edison came down to take option on gold mining interests in the Carter's Mill area. Between 1923 and 1924, generators were installed at Carter’s Mill, along Bear Creek, adjacent to Elise, and the first power was supplied to this area. In 1924 and 1925, William Cowgill built the first textile plant here, operating it as Moore Mills Textiles Plant. Three different companies operated that mill until September, 1930, when Karl Robbins, a Russian immigrant, purchased the mill and renamed it Pinehurst Silk Mills.

In 1935, the Town’s name was changed again. The name was changed to Hemp, to avoid confusion between Elise and another town in North Carolina which had a similar name. Karl Robbins brought great prominence to Hemp. He was responsible for a modern water treatment plant and a wastewater disposal system being completed in 1937. He also provided for recreational facilities and a baseball park.

Robbins NC Police Station
Robbins Police Department and water tower in background.

In honor of Karl Robbins, the citizens of Hemp changed the name to Robbins. The town officially became Robbins in 1943, by act of the General Assembly.

Later industries included a poultry processing plant, a mobile home manufacturing plant, and several textile mills. Ithaca Industries produced ladies hosiery and at the height of its operation, employed 1,100 people.

Robbins, like other rural towns in the South, began to suffer loss to its manufacturing base around 1990 and escalated throughout the 90s. According to the Employment Security Commission, Robbins has lost 1,447 jobs since 1990. The town has also lost a very large portion of its water and sewer customer.


Robbins NC sign
Sign at northern edge of town along NC Highway 705.

Robbins is located at 35°25′48″N 79°34′49″W / 35.43000°N 79.58028°W / 35.43000; -79.58028 (35.430024, -79.580284).

Robbins is located on North Carolina Highway 705, the Pottery Highway.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2), all of it land.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1940 972
1950 1,158 19.1%
1960 1,294 11.7%
1970 1,059 −18.2%
1980 1,256 18.6%
1990 970 −22.8%
2000 1,195 23.2%
2010 1,097 −8.2%
2019 (est.) 1,221 11.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Robbins racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 475 40.67%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 50 4.28%
Native American 1 0.09%
Asian 12 1.03%
Other/Mixed 41 3.51%
Hispanic or Latino 589 50.43%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 1,168 people, 526 households, and 332 families residing in the town.

Robbins today

There are many attractions in the Robbins area such as the annual Farmers Day, the Northern Moore Fiddlers Convention, etc. The most popular places in Robbins are Milliken (mill-a-ken) Park, Robbins Mill Pond Park, Bear Creek Trails, Bear Creek, Tracy Brown Park, Jake's Place Cafe, Carolina Fried Chicken Restaurant, The Little Village Restaurant and War Sport Industries. Currently, Robbins is in the middle of restoring its historic theater and train depot. It is also home to the Standard Mineral Company, a mine on the outskirts of town that ships Pyrophyllite all over the world. War Sport Industries is maintaining the towns heritage of gun manufacturing with the opening of gun and ammo manufacturing facilities. Robbins regularly host Robin Sage, a training exercise by the United States ArmySpecial Forces that is the litmus test for soldiers striving to earn the coveted Green Beret.

Notable people

  • Karl Robbins (1892–1960), Namesake of Robbins, NC, owned the textile mill that later became Milliken. Donated generously to the town establishing the water plant and water/wastewater infrastructure. He served as chairman of the Research Triangle Committee during its planning stages and donated over 4,000 acres to the state for the site of the research park. He founded a medical school at Yeshiva University in New York City and was a founder of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York and a patron of the New York University–Bellevue Medical Center. In 1951 he established the Karl Robbins Scholarship Fund at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to further textile technology.
  • Charles E. Brady Jr. (1951–2006), Astronaut, flew on space shuttle STS-78 in 1996 and logged over 405 hours in space.
  • John Edwards (born 1953), American politician, former US Senator, two-time Presidential candidate, 2004 Vice-Presidential running mate of John Kerry, grew up in Robbins (he was born in Seneca, South Carolina).
  • Cam Thomas (born 1986), NFL Football player for the Kansas City Chiefs. He played for the Pittsburgh Steelers for two seasons after becoming a free agent from the San Diego Chargers. Originally drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. Played high school football at North Moore High School, and college football at the University of North Carolina.

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