This article is the first in a four-part series that we’re publishing this week.

One day, one tank of gas, and three data centers – it was a road trip that only a geek would dream up. My destination: a cluster of cutting-edge and massive data centers spread across a few hundred miles north of Charlotte, North Carolina.

If data centers, filled with thousands of servers, are the engines of the Internet, then North Carolina is one of the garages for the Hummers of the tech world: The state is where Apple (s AAPL), Google (s GOOG) and Facebook (s FB) have decided to build their East Coast data centers. It’s a coup for North Carolina to have wooed all three elite Internet brands.

View Road trip: The North Carolina data center corrider in a larger map

But that’s not the only reason the North Carolina data center corridor is…

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