The pre-Revolutionary town of Rocky Mount, county seat of Franklin since its inception, is also a factory town working to reinvent itself. As in many old Piedmont towns, the governmental uptown Main Street follows a ridgeline that provided drainage for early dirt roads. With the advent of railroads moving along on a lower grade, downtown Franklin Street developed first as an industrial and storage area and then became a commercial zone. As commercial strip development grew up on the fringes of the town and into its corridors, the uptown and downtown declined, but in the early twenty-first century they are in the process of being revitalized.
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