Railroad brought life to a small villageshoes, was also a social hub for residents.
The trainno longer stops at “Rama, NC,” as an old rail sign once touted. And only a few of the thousands who drive by each day are probably even aware that a thriving village existed along the railroad tracks a century ago.
Rama Road got its name because it ran through the Rama farming community, located on the rail line between present-day McClintock Middle School and Rama Road Elementary.
Originally, the village was called Sardis, but because that stop was so often confused with another Sardis stop on the Seaboard rail line, the railroad asked for a change. Residents settled on Rama, a name synonymous with God in the Hindu religion. How nineteenth-century Mecklenburg farmers came up with the name of a Hindu God for their village is open to speculation.
In the late 1800s, Rama boasted a cotton gin, freight depot, post office, general store, and residences. The community’s social and business hub was the two-story brick store built in 1898, the second on that site.
The Rural Free Delivery Act of 1896 marked the end of Rama’s post office, but the store, cotton gin, a coal business, freight depot, blacksmithing, and general commerce continued well into the early twentieth century.
In a 1974 newspaper interview, J. Lightsey Wallace, son of general store proprietor I.G. Wallace, recalled that horses and mules were sold at the store when he was a boy. “We sold Star Brand shoes shipped from St. Louis and ladies’ shoes that you buttoned with a little hook on a wire. And we sold overalls, ol’timey straw hats, and boots for the farmers.”
If you wanted to catch the train at Rama Station, you pulled the flag in front of the general store and the train stopped and let you on.
The small village slowly faded away as suburban neighborhoods sprouted along the road. However, the old general store was renovated and converted into a convenience store in the 1970s. It was demolished in the mid-1990s, leaving nothing but memories of "Rama, NC." —Joe Goodpasture