Garner is the kind of place a great many Americans are looking for: a small-town atmosphere where people know each other, yet a location with easy access to city amenities, corporate headquarters, and universities. It’s the kind of place where neighbors gather at their mailboxes and turn out for parades and Friday night football games.
Only eight miles from downtown Raleigh, and close to Research Triangle Park and the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Garner is the ideal choice for people employed in the Research Triangle who want to live in a safe, affordable, convenient location, where townspeople still care about their neighbors.
Residents enjoy quick access to all the cultural amenities, universities and medical facilities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, and can enjoy the full diversity of North Carolina’s natural beauty by driving for several hours either east or west. They can be on the beach in two to three hours or hiking in the beautiful North Carolina mountains in about four hours.
Though there were settlers in the Garner area before the Revolutionary War, the town got its start with the coming of the railroad after 1847, when cotton had to be transported to market. One of the first buildings in town was a small four-room depot with a tin roof. The railroad stop quickly became just as essential for passengers traveling to Raleigh as it was for transporting the cotton crop.
No one is entirely sure where Garner got its name. Some sources say a man named H.C. Garner was the founder, but no one seems to know anything about him to corroborate the story. Others say that resident Thomas Bingham, who incorporated a post office in his general store after the Civil War, chose the word ‘garner’ because Webster’s Dictionary defines it as a ‘granary’ or a place for supplies. “Garner’s Station” was what they called it then, and Bingham was its first postmaster.
The area saw a few skirmishes in the closing days of the Civil War, and there are carefully preserved bullet holes to be seen in Bethel Church and the Garner House, which is said to have been used as a hospital for wounded soldiers.
Close by, Rands Mill Pond had been part of a king’s grant to the Rand family’s forefathers in the 1750s. The pond was later named Lake Benson, which was enlarged in 1951 and now serves as a reservoir. The 60 acres surrounding it is used by the town as a community park and the site of the annual Independence Day festivities.
Garner has come a long way since the days of the little depot and general store. With a population exceeding 23,000 residents, Garner may be on the verge of the biggest surge in growth in the Research Triangle area. It is participating in this growth with an eye to preserving large swaths of its beautiful countryside for residents’ pleasure. Currently, there are about a dozen small neighborhood parks scattered throughout the town, as well as two community parks covering a total of 130 acres. So wherever you live, you are never far from a park.
Currently, Garner is pursuing a Recreational Trails Grant from the State of North Carolina for improvements to the walking trail at Lake Benson Park. The town has recently purchased more than 35 acres to be used for parkland and has a grant to design and build a nature center at White Deer Park.