Fayetteville (population 176,450) began as two adjacent communities, Campbelltown and Cross Creek, which were founded by English and Scottish settlers in the 1730s. The communities merged in 1783, and were renamed in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette. Fayetteville periodically served as North Carolina’s state capitol following the Revolution, and it was here that the state legislature ratified the U. S. Constitution in 1789.
During the Civil War, Fayetteville was ravaged by Union troops. Decades later, the community became the site of major U.S. military installations, Fort Bragg and adjacent Pope Air Force Base. The two comprise one of the world’s largest military installations. Each year, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, a major Fayetteville tourist attraction, hosts Airborne Heritage Day.
The Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau has established a Cultural Heritage Tourism Advisory Council that is developing a strategic plan and a series of themed trails. Fayetteville is also part of the Crossroads, PatriArts, and Native Ways Trail developed by HomegrownHomemade, which promotes tourism focused on the arts, agriculture, and culture.
In 2006, the Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum opened, the community’s newest museum. Housed in the historic Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad Depot (1890), the museum features exhibits on river travel (as the Cape Fear River was significant in the settlement of the area), train travel (Fayetteville was home to two railroad depots), and roads (Fayetteville was the hub of six early plank road systems). The majority of funding for restoration of the building came from federal Transportation Enhancement funds.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2006.