In 1921, 150,558 motor vehicles were registered in North Carolina. By 1929, the number of registered vehicles increased to 503,590.  As the number of vehicles increased, so did the number of people killed in traffic accidents: 690 deaths in 1929.

Gravesite map --  those killed in line of duty and the original 1929 members.

Traffic control was of such concern that in 1929 the General Assembly passed an act authorizing the establishment of a State Highway Patrol. The new organization was given statutory responsibility to patrol the highways of the state, enforce the motor vehicle laws, and assist the motoring public.

The organization was designed as a division of the State Highway Commission. The Highway Commission initially sent ten men (later designated as a captain and nine lieutenants) to Pennsylvania to attend the training school of the Pennsylvania State Police. Their mission was to study law, first aid, light adjustments, vehicle operation, and related subjects for use in North Carolina's first Patrol School.

An office was established in Raleigh to serve as state headquarters, and a district office was established in each of the nine highway districts. A lieutenant and three patrolmen were assigned to each district. All patrolmen were issued Harley Davidson motorcycles and the lieutenants drove Model A Ford Coupes. The Patrol commander was issued a Buick automobile.


First Highway Patrol Training School

The school began on May 20, 1929, at Camp Glenn near Morehead City, North Carolina. Of the original 400 applicants who applied for admission, 67 were selected to report to the school. Only 42 men completed the school and 37 members were chosen to receive the oath of office in the State Capitol Building in Raleigh.

Monthly salaries for the original members were: commander, $200; lieutenant, $175; and, patrolmen, $150. By 1935, salaries had been reduced on three occasions and patrolmen were making only $87.50 per month.


Changes and Growth

Early Uniform

In 1931, the General Assembly increased the Patrol to 67 members and reduced the number of

lieutenants to six. The Patrol was increased in size in 1933 to 121 members. Patrolmen were relieved of gasoline inspection duties and given responsibilities for issuing driver licenses and enforcing the new driver license laws

All patrolmen were assigned individual vehicles in 1937, and during the same year the legislature authorized a statewide radio system for the purpose of coordinating operations and improving the efficiency of the Highway Patrol Numerous executive, legislative, and administrative changes have occurred since the Patrol's creation. The duties and responsibilities have varied, different ranks have been designated, and the organizational structure has been modified to improve efficiency.

The Patrol, a semi-military organization, currently consists of five sections, each having specific duties and responsibilities. These sections are: Administrative Services; Technical Support Unit; Office of Professional Standards; Training; and Field Operations, the enforcement arm of the Patrol.


First Highway Patrolmen Tour the State

29 Ford

After completing the training school, the original Highway Patrol members toured the entire state as a group. This was an historical event in North Carolina, beginning in Beaufort and continuing west across the state to Asheville and back to Raleigh. The tour covered a total of 1,028 miles.

The tour, led by Captain C. D. Farmer in a 1929 Buick and followed by nine groups, each consisting of three patrolmen on motorcycles in a diamond formation and a lieutenant in a Ford Coupe, departed Beaufort on Sunday morning, June 23, 1929.

Later in the tour, the patrolmen departed Wilson in a heavy thunderstorm arriving at the Carolina Hotel in Raleigh for the night. The patrolmen on motorcycles who had not been issued rain gear were thoroughly drenched. When the patrolmen arrived in Marion they purchased all the yellow sharkskin raincoats in town. The remaining patrolmen who were not able to obtain rainwear then purchased raincoats in Asheville.

Lieutenant E. S. Guthrie fell victim to the first of what has become a tradition in the Patrol - practical jokes. While Lieutenant Guthrie was asleep, some of the other lieutenants slipped into his room and clipped one side of his mustache. Needless to say, he continued the tour clean shaven.

On Monday, July 1, 1929, the patrolmen met in the House Chambers of the State Capitol Building for the official swearing in ceremonies. During the ceremonies, the Honorable Henry A. Grady, Superior Court judge, gave the following charge:

The State of North Carolina is entering upon an experiment which I trust will ripen into an established institution of great benefit, not only to the state itself, but to all those who pass through its borders. The success of this venture will depend, in a large measure, on the loyalty, intelligence and personal integrity of the several men who make up the Highway Patrol. It is a serious undertaking and it will call forth every ounce of courage and every particle of patience subject to your command. In discharging the duties of your office, the state does not expect any display of power. It does not expect its peace officers to be used as instruments of oppression, but it does expect and it will demand of you a sincere application of the ancient rules of common sense, which are after all, the best rules for the regulation of human conduct.


Tab/Accordion Items


When the Patrol started in 1929 the first badges were numbered. The retiree mounted this badge on a plaque, resulting in the hole.

Hat badges were numbered like the breast badges when the Patrol originated.

After the first numbered badges the next order of hat badges had the letters "NC" applied to the front. The same style badge is still used today, except the letters are made into the badge.
After the first breast badges were numbered on the front, the next order had numbers stamped into the back of the badge, this is one of those badges.
Numbers were stamped into the back of the 2nd order of Patrol badges.
Current trooper badge introduced in the 1980's.
Corporal rank badges were used from 1931 until 1968.
The Hahn Badge Company manufactured the Patrol's badges from 1929 until the late 1970's, this is an older Hahn Sergeant rank badge.
An older Lieutenant rank badge.
1940's issue Captain rank badge.
1940's issue Major rank badge.

This silver gilded button is from the 1st uniform coat of Charter Member Arthur Welch.

Blackinton Badge Company has held the contract for Patrol badges since the late 1970's. This Blackinton badge was worn by the Communications Division for a few years during the late 1970's.

This Trooper of the Year medal was awarded to Patrolman C. W. Bringle in 1959.

This Trooper of the Year medal was awarded to Patrolman C. W. Bringle in 1958.

2004 Motor Carrier Enforcement badge.
2004 Motor Carrier Enforcement Sergeant badge.
This set of Colonel's Eagles date to the 1950's.
These collar insignia were worn by the Communications Division during the 1970's.
Pith Helmets were worn in the late 1940's and early 1950's during the summer.
Felt Campaign Hats were discontinued during the 1980's.


Blue 29 Ford

SHP 1929 Indian Motorcycle

Grey 1935 Ford Roadster with a seal on the left door

Grey SHP 1941 Dodge Fury with seal on left door

Silver 1946 Buick Series 40 Special Sedan

Silver and black 64 Ford

Silver and black 78 Plymouth

Classic patrol car, motorcycle and helicopter in one shot

SHP 1999 Ford Crown Victoria

Silver and black Chevy Impala

Black and silver 2001 Camaro

Black and silver 2001 Durango

Black and silver Jeep Cherokee

Black motorcycle - 2001 Harley Davidson

Silver and black 1997 Ford Crown Victoria

Light blue motor carrier

1998 Crown Victoria at intersection



#1 - When the Patrol was started in 1929 this patch was worn on shirts, but only for two years until 1931. The same design patch was worn on coats, but had a rounded shape.
#2 - In 1931 the earlier design stayed the same but the background color of the patch was changed to orange. This shirt patch has been found in 4 slightly different issues.
#3 - This coat patch was worn from the early 1940-s thru 1954. A similar patch was worn from 1931 to the early 1940-s, but was a longer patch, allowing for rank stripes to be added under the wheel and arrow design.
#4 - In 1954 the patch saw a dramatic change in design. This patch was worn on shirts from 1954 to 1971. A larger version was worn on coats from 1960 until 1971.
#5 - This variation of the 3rd issue shirt patch is believed to have been the first order of the 1954 design, since it is found in the same orange color as the earlier patch.
#6 - This coat patch was worn from 1954 thru 1960.
#7 - This shirt patch has been worn since 1971 and is the current uniform patch. A larger version is also worn on coats.
#8 - This small Executive Security tab was only worn for a few years in the early 1970-s by Troopers who worked Governor-s Security.
#9 - The orange PFC stripe was worn from the early 1940-s until 1954, the yellow PFC was worn from 1954 thru the early 1960-s.
#10 - Orange Corporal stripes were worn from 1931 until 1954, yellow Corporal stripes worn from 1954 thru 1968.
#11 - These orange Technical Sergeant stripes were worn from 1951 until 1954 by the 3rd in command in each of the 5 Patrol Troops in the state.
#12 - Yellow Technical Sergeant stripes were worn from 1954 thru 1970.
#13 - Airwing Sergeant stripes were worn from 1962 to 1972, and only by 2 men.
#14 - Line Sergeant stripes have been worn from 1954 until present.
 #15 - First Sergeant stripes have been worn from 1968 until present.
#16 - Worn since the 1950-s, Service patches have bars representing 2 years of service and stars representing 5 years of service, and are found in many combinations.
#17 - This 1st issue Radio shirt patch was only issued one time in 1940 and worn only a few years. A similar patch was worn on coats, but has a black background.
#18 - The Dispatcher tab was worn under the regular patch by Dispatchers from the early 1960-s until 1971. Similar tabs of Supv. Dispatcher, Technician I, Technician II, and "Engineer" were worn by those in those positions.
#19 - This Radio patch was worn on the left breast area by Dispatchers from the early. 1960-s until 1971, along with the Dispatcher tabs under the regular shoulder patch. This Communications patch has been worn since 1971 and is also found in a larger version that was worn on blazer type jackets in the 1970-s.
#20 - Similar Communications patches with Shift Supervisor, Center Supervisor, and Chief Supervisor are worn. Other positions in the Patrol have patches with titles of Aircraft Operations, Auto Body Technician, Auto Parts, Automotive Technician, Courier, Maintenance, Office Supply, Radio Engineer and Uniform Supply. Some of these patches are also found with Supervisor and Assistant Supervisor tabs at the top.

#21  Motor Carrier Enforcement Patch - 2004 - 2008. The former Division of Motor Vehicles Enforcement Section was merged with the State Highway Patrol on January 1, 2003, and renamed the Motor Carrier Enforcement section. This patch was worn by MCE Officers who prior to completing the transition training to Trooper status. Once the training was complete, this patch was retired.

 #22 - This is the 1st uniform of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. Note the early style visor cap, the bow-tie, and the rounded 1st issue coat patch on the shoulder. Although the uniform has changed since 1929, the proud tradition of service to our state has not.

The following is a collection of documents submitted by the public and patrol members containing a variety of information on North Carolina State Highway Patrol's past.