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Historic Charlotte Neighborhoods

This guide provides histories of minority communities in Charlotte, some of which have disappeared or been gentrified, but many are very much alive.

History of Shuffletown

Photo of ferry, Rozzelle, Judy., and Gail E. Haley. Shuffletown, USA : a Multi-Voice Memoir. Parkway Publishers, 2004.


Few records exist for this former hamlet as it was rarely more than a group of farmers living next to the Catawba River. The earliest known records of Shuffletown are of a ferry operating on the Catawba river. Since at least 1764, this ferry transported merchants, settlers, and slaves to Charlotte. In the early 1800s, Sam Spurrier, the local blacksmith, built a general store which became town center.


Following Emancipation, blacks and whites lived peacefully side by side. It is believed that they were all small farmers and thus all lived in similar situations, bringing them closer together than their more urban neighbors.


Several stories exist about where the name Shuffletown came from:

  • In the Civil War era, a traveling English salesman suggested Sheffield after the British town which was slurred into Shuffletown.
  • The name came from a description of drunk men hobbling home from Spurrier’s General Store and Bar.
  • After the Civil War, freed slaves shuffled towards the crossroads.1

The Shuffletown Dragway was built in 1958 to make a safer space for drag racing other than the old route of “the service station to the bridge on Rozzelles Ferry Road.”2 Originally made of dirt, it was finally paved in 1964. Races included roadsters, motorcycles, and “the ever popular Ford vs. Chevrolet race.” It was so popular houses began springing up near the track until 1996 when complaints about the noise shut it down.3 In 2010, the abandon track was developed into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Park.4 Some videos of old races can still be found online. The Shuffletown Grill, which was built in 1957, pays tribute to the Dragway with its memorabilia theme.


By 1953, 110 families were spread out over 10 miles, an area that surrounds Bellhaven Road and Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road.


Shuffletown was bulldozed in 2000. The former neighborhood is now mostly gated communities, referred to as Mountain Island Lake by developers.5



  1. Juan Williams, "Tiny Shuffletown, Struggling in the Shadow of Charlotte," NPR, last modified September 22, 2004, accessed October 30, 2017,
  2. Karen Sullivan, "Sportsplex delays might not affect opening date," The Charlotte Observer, last modified September 7, 2008, accessed October 30, 2017,
  3. Ibid.
  4. Vanessa Infanzo, "Remembering Shuffletown Dragway, Charlotte’s abandoned drag strip," Charlotte Five, last modified February 17, 2016, accessed October 30, 2017,
  5. Williams, "Tiny Shuffletown," NPR.

Resources in Atkins Library

Rare Books

Rozzelle, Judy. Shuffletown, USA: A Multi-Voice Memoir. Boone, N.C.; Parkway Publishers, 2004.

Special Collections

MS 351. Gail Haley Papers"Shuffletown" Box 1 [F09.089.01.02], Folder: 26 

Oral History Interviews

Gail E. Haley

2005-2009, Discusses her life growing up in Shuffletown and career as a children's author and illustrator in a series of sixteen interviews.