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Spencer, North Carolina
Location of Spencer, North Carolina
Location of Spencer, North Carolina
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Rowan
 • Total 2.7 sq mi (6.9 km2)
 • Land 2.7 sq mi (6.9 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
715 ft (218 m)
 • Total 3,267
 • Density 1,264.3/sq mi (488.2/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 704
FIPS code 37-63760
GNIS feature ID 0995290

Spencer is a town in Rowan County, North Carolina, United States, incorporated in 1905. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 3,267.


The town was named for Samuel Spencer, first president of the Southern Railway, who is credited with establishment of the railroad's mechanical shops at the site in 1896. The site was approximately the midpoint of the railroad's mainline between Atlanta, GA and Washington, DC. As the shops were being built the Southern Railway developed a town, also named Spencer, alongside the shops for worker housing. Initially, the Southern partitioned 85 acres into 500 lots. Instead of creating a traditional "company" town in which the workers rented houses Southern sold the lots to workers or businesses for $100 apiece. The deeds did contain restrictive covenants which maintained that a dwelling costing in excess of $400 and approved by a Southern appointed architect be built within a year. The Southern donated lots for religious institutions. Southern also helped establish a YMCA in the town. The community grew quickly and by 1901 had 625 residents.

The former Spencer Shops were phased out during the 1950s through 1970s and have now become the location of the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

The Alexander Long House, Southern Railway's Spencer Shops, and Spencer Historic District are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Spencer is located at 35°41′37″N 80°25′55″W / 35.693672°N 80.431906°W / 35.693672; -80.431906.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.7 square miles (7.0 km2), all of it land.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 1,915
1920 2,510 31.1%
1930 3,128 24.6%
1940 3,072 −1.8%
1950 3,242 5.5%
1960 2,904 −10.4%
1970 3,075 5.9%
1980 2,938 −4.5%
1990 3,219 9.6%
2000 3,355 4.2%
2010 3,267 −2.6%
Est. 2015 3,291 0.7%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 3,355 people, 1,308 households, and 844 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,264.3 people per square mile (488.8/km2). There were 1,427 housing units at an average density of 537.8 per square mile (207.9/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 70.28% White, 23.61% African American, 0.36% Native American, 0.48% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 3.61% from other races, and 1.64% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.77% of the population.

There were 1,308 households out of which 29.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.9% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.4% were non-families. 29.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the town, the population was spread out with 23.5% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 29.4% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 18.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 94.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $36,687, and the median income for a family was $43,702. Males had a median income of $28,860 versus $25,766 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,354. About 7.7% of families and 9.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.0% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.

Places of Education

  • North Rowan High School
  • North Rowan Middle School
  • North Rowan Elementary School


Spencer is mentioned in the song "The Wreck of Old 97" as the ultimate endpoint of a train trip which is never reached. The journey began in Monroe, VA.

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