Franklin's location at the junction of a railroad and important water route offered opportunities that attracted new people, so the town rapidly recovered from the War. In 1866 the Albemarle steam Navigation Company was reorganized and the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad was rebuilt. Franklin's steamboat lines built new wharves and the town's trade in lumber and peanuts, the region's principal products, grew steadily. Franklin elected its first municipal government in 1869 and incorporated in 1876. In 1879, impressed with the quantity of goods carried on the Blackwater - Chowan route, the government cleared navigational obstructions between Franklin and Edenton. Though a fire destroyed almost everything from the railroad to First Avenue in 1881, the business district was soon rebuilt in brick and stone. In the 1890s Franklin erected naphtha street lights downtown, installed a telephone system, built two new schools, and bought a pumper fire fighting machine.
"No place on earth could have undergone more changes... than Franklin. Our surprise was unbounded as we looked in vain for old and familiar residences and business stands only to find them improved beyond recognition, or entirely removed, and their places supplied by others neat and pretty."
The Norfolk Virginian, August 1874
" A few of the rich had electric lights [in 1906], as the Town had built an electric light plant and was operating a generator in the ninties."
Edward F. Gilliam
Time Line included:
1879 - Obstructions are cleared from the Blackwater to the Neely Mill
1881 - "The Great fire of 1881" destroys most of Franklin
1886 - P.D. Camp and Company buy the Neely sawmill. Vaughan and Company, Franklin's first bank is established
1887 - Camp Manufacturing Company is organized.
1888 - The Atlantic and Danville Railroad is built through Franklin.
1890 - Franklin Male Academy, a private school is established.
1894 - Franklin Female Seminary is organized as a private school.
1898 - The Spanish - American War is declared. Franklin sends men, led by General C.C. Vaughn Jr. to fight in Cuba.
1901 - Franklin Builds a water tank.