Welcome To Rowland

Welcome to Rowland, North Carolina, “The Town of a Thousand Friends.” Rowland is a small community surrounded by farmland on the southern coastal plain of Robeson County, NC. We are located at the intersection of several major highways for north-south travelers (US 301 and I-95) and east-west travelers (US 501/NC 130). We are not far south of I-74 and I-20. More than 6,000 people pass through Rowland every day on their way to and from everywhere, including the Carolina beaches. The town and surrounding area are rich with cultural history and sites of historic interest. We have a variety of specialty shops, restaurants, and seasonal celebrations; we also have quiet, quaint neighborhoods with affordable housing for growing families, empty nesters, and retirees. As you travel this part of the country, we invite you to stop and  spend some time discovering the peaceful charm of our small-town community.

MISSION STATEMENT  —   Making Rowland an Appealing, Livable, Harmonious Community.

Our mission is to enhance the quality of life through:

  • Sound leadership and fiscal responsibility
  • Efficient delivery of high quality services
  • Advocacy for community participation and involvement
  • Preservation of our history and protection of our natural environment


“The Town of Rowland will provide an environment that is safe and promotes a higher quality of life for those who live, work, and visit our community. We will indicatively manage our resources while preserving our heritage and planning for the future.”

“The Town of Rowland will be a local government grounded in the principles of ethics and dignity with a firm commitment to improving the quality of life for future generations by making responsible decisions today.”


The community of Rowland originally developed from a network of farming communities within the rich agricultural lands of Robeson County. The town was established as a result of new railroads being built as supply routes between Wilson, NC and Florence SC, known as the “Wilson Shortcut.” The first train stopped in October 1888, on the same day as the first land auction for the growing community. Rowland was incorporated on March 11, 1889 and was named in honor of Col. Alfred Rowland, a Confederate soldier, attorney, and member of Congress. The railway depot was built in 1890. The structure was remodeled in 1925 and now houses the Rowland Historic Depot  and Museum, which displays local historical material and railroading memorabilia. The depot anchors the town center and represents the focal point for town festivals and celebrations, including our Spring Festival, Veterans Day activities and the Christmas parade. The history of Rowland was described in detail in the 1989 Centennial book, “Town of a Thousand Friends” by George Reed Pate.


The Town of Rowland is a small town located in southwestern Robeson County,North Carolina, bordering South Carolina. It is an established community of long-time residents and young growing families, and is known as “The Town of a Thousand Friends.” Rowland was incorporated as a town on March 11, 1889 and named for Colonel Alfred Rowland II, a Confederate officer who was from the nearby community of Raynham.

Rowland is about twenty miles southwest of Lumberton, the Robeson county seat; fifteen miles southwest of Pembroke, the home of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and fifty miles south of Fayetteville.  Rowland lies at the intersection of Highway 301 and Highways 501/130, and lies adjacent to Interstate 95. Like Robeson County as a whole, Rowland has a long history in agriculture, as well as an established small industrial and commercial base. Over the past several years, the entire region has struggled due to various issues primarily related to the economy’s struggling agriculture base. These challenges, economic and otherwise, being faced by the town of Rowland are evident in the evolving of the town’s character from a small, rural community to that of a community facing an uncertain future with an evolving economic base.

Town Assets

Although Rowland is dealing with economic struggles, the town has many assets.  First, due to the location of the town, Rowland serves as a route for northerners and others to travel to Myrtle Beach,South Carolina, one of the fastest growing tourist sites in the country.  More than 6,000 people pass through Rowland daily en route to the coast.  Second, Rowland has some very quaint, quiet communities that serve as respites for retirees and empty nesters.  Third, Rowland’s population opens the door for diversity to grow and flourish. Fourth, Rowland is the home of some physical assets that serves as the foundation of the beauty of the small town.

The town’s major landmark is the old train station, built in 1890 and renovated in 1925. In February 2001, the train station was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. A small museum containing local historical material and railroad artifacts is housed in the waiting room.

Rowland’s downtown,  an intact example of an early twentieth century railroad town.  was designated a historically significant business district by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2001,

In addition to the Rowland Depot and Ashpole Church, which are already on the National Register of Historic Places, Rowland has several other sites deserving of National Register or local historic district recognition. The newly renovated Chamber of Commerce Building is an example of a site of historical significance, as well as the Main Street Business District.

Community Issues

The challenges of the town are primarily due to a struggling economy that has left many residents unemployed and with very little industrial, commercial, or agricultural opportunities for employment.  The town is in great need of an economic and structural revitalization. The town is looking for ways to has demand for new rental, affordable home ownership, and market rate housing options due to its location. Rowland‘s housing stock currently consists of large early 20th century owner-occupied homes (many of which will be considered for historic designation in the near future), smaller owner-occupied homes of mid 1970’s and mid 1980’s construction, and substandard duplex and mobile home rental options. Rowland ‘s comprehensive redevelopment plan is seeking to substitute the substandard housing with new rental housing options and affordable new home ownership opportunities clustered around the Town Center that is Rowland ‘s Main Street Historic District

 Rowland is a town of a thousand loving, smiling faces and the culturally diverse residents socialize and connect at such events as the Annual Homecoming and Christmas Parades, the Spring Festival and summer downtown events.