In the 1850's Charles Shaw acquired a state land grant in southern Moore County. It included a high ridge where he began cutting pines. In 1876, the Raleigh Augusta Railroad came through. Most of the trees were gone a few years later when John T. Patrick purchased 675 acres of land for $1,265 to build a health resort. He named the streets after Northern states. Southern Pines proved to be an ideal place for travel-weary train passengers from the North to stop and rest before continuing their journey to Florida.
By 1887 Southern Pines was a thriving resort. After World War I, novelist and publisher James Boyd initiated the equestrian and literary pursuits that remain as a big factor to this day. Southern Pines is the largest town in the county.