A Southeast Regional Railroad - 1930's - 1940's
Norfolk Southern Railway (old)


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The Norfolk Southern Railway was the final name of a railroad running from Norfolk, Virginia southwest and west to Charlotte, North Carolina. This old Norfolk Southern Railway is not to be confused with the present Norfolk Southern, which was formed in 1982, as a consolidation of the Southern and the Norfolk and Western Railroads. From 1910, until a reorganization in 1942, the name was the Norfolk Southern Railroad, as is attested by the timetable shown here.
During the 30's and 40's the NS operated passenger trains on its main line between Norfolk, Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina, and between Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina. It also operated passenger trains on many of its branches, most notably to Fayetteville. It also assisted in providing seasonal sleeping car service from New York to Virginia Beach, Virginia and Pinehurst, North Carolina in conjunction with the Pennsylvania, RF&P, ACL and N&W Railroads.
The NS was acquired by the Southern Railway in 1974.
Short history of the (Old) Norfolk Southern Railroad (Railway)
1870 - The Elizabeth City and Norfolk Railroad was established.
1881 - The line opened, running south from Berkley, Virginia, across the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River from Norfolk, via Elizabeth City to Edenton, North Carolina.
1883 - The name was changed to the Norfolk Southern Railroad, reflecting the company's ambitions to build further.
1889 - The NS entered receivership for the first time.


Norfolk Southern (Old)

Norfolk Southern
January 14, 1934
1891 - The NS was purchased and reorganized May 1891 as the Norfolk and Southern Railroad.
1891 - Trackage rights from N&W over the Elizabeth River and acquisition of the Albemarle and Pantego Railroad in North Carolina extending the line from Mackeys on the other side of the Albemarle Sound from Edenton south to Belhaven on the Pungo River, a branch of the Pamlico River.
1899 - The N&S bought the Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Southern Railroad, running east from Norfolk to Virginia Beach on the Atlantic Ocean.
1902 - An extension which ran parallel to the oceanfront took the line north from Virginia Beach to Cape Henry.
1902 - The N&S acquired the Washington and Plymouth Railroad, running from Plymouth, North Carolina, south to Washington, built a line from Mackeys to Plymouth, and began a car ferry operation across the Albemarle Sound between Edenton and Mackeys (replaced by a bridge in 1910).
1903 - The Raleigh and Eastern North Carolina Railroad was organized.
1904 - The N&S bought the competing Chesapeake Transit Company which had a line from Norfolk to Cape Henry via the Lynnhaven Inlet area and hence to Virginia Beach, and abandoned its duplicative trackage between Cape Henry and Virginia Beach.
1904-1922 - The passenger rail service to the Oceanfront area was a key factor in the growth of the Town of Virginia Beach as a resort. Auto road construction reduced this traffic by 1922.
1905 - R&ENC renamed the Raleigh and Pamlico Sound Railroad.
1906 - R&PS built a line from the end of the N&S at Washington south to Bridgeton, as well as a completely separated line from Raleigh east to Zebulon.
1906 - The Norfolk and Southern Railway was formed as a consolidation of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad with the Raleigh and Pamlico Sound Railroad and several other companies:
Virginia and Carolina Coast Railroad: built 1885 to 1902 from Suffolk, Virginia south to Edenton and from Beckford Junction (on the Suffolk-Edenton section) to Elizabeth City; originally built as the Suffolk and Carolina Railway and renamed in 1906).
Pamlico, Oriental and Western Railway: built 1906 from New Bern (across the Neuse River from Bridgeton) east to Bayboro, including a bridge over the Neuse River that became part of the main line.
Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad (leased September 1, 1904): built 1858 from Goldsboro southeast to Morehead City, intersecting the main line at New Bern.
Beaufort and Western Railroad: built 1905 from Morehead City east to Beaufort.
1908 - The company again entered receivership.
1910 - N&S reorganized as the Norfolk Southern Railroad.
1910 - NS built a long branch from Chocowinity (also known as Marsden) on the main line south of Washington west to the isolated section to Raleigh at Zebulon (that became the main line to Charlotte via Raleigh, while the old line to New Bern became a branch). Several shorter branches also opened that year - from Bayboro south to Oriental, from Pinetown on the main line east to Bishops Cross on the line to Belhaven, and from Mackeys east to Columbia (as well as a trestle across the Albemarle Sound between Mackeys and Edenton).
The Egypt Railroad
1890 - Chartered.
1891 - Opened from Colon (on SAL) west to Cumnock.
1910 - Egypt reorganized as Sanford and Troy Railroad.
The Durham and Charlotte Railroad
1893 - Chartered.
1896 - D&C bought the Glendon and Gulf Railroad, running from Gulf (west of Cumnock) southwest to Glendon.
1899-1902 - D&C completed to Star.
post 1900 - D&C bought the former Raleigh and Western Railway right-of-way and rebuilt the line from Cumnock to Gulf, and built an extension from Star southwest to Troy.
Norfolk Southern
1911 - The NS formed the Raleigh, Charlotte and Southern Railway (RC&S) as a consolidation of several smaller companies.
1912 - RC&S was merged into the NS in fall 1912. The RC&S was made up of the Sanford and Troy Railroad, Durham and Charlotte Railroad, and the following lines:
Raleigh and Southport Railway: Raleigh south to Fayetteville.
Aberdeen and Asheboro Railroad: Aberdeen northwest to Asheboro, with a branch from Biscoe west via Troy to Mount Gilead, and several other short branches.
1914 - At the time, only the Raleigh and Southport Railway connected to the other NS lines so, In 1914, the NS built a line from Varina on the former R&S southwest to Colon and from Mount Gilead west to Charlotte, giving it a continuous line, using the former S&T, D&C and branch of the A&A from Colon to Mount Gilead.
1920 - The NS leased the Durham and South Carolina Railroad, giving it access to Durham. The D&SC ran from Durham south to Bonsal on the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, and was extended to Duncan on the NS around the time the NS leased it.
1932 - NS in receivership.
1935 - NS defaulted on its lease of the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad, which was reincorporated November 16 of that year. Many branch lines were abandoned or sold during that period, such as the local lines in Suffolk, Virginia, which were sold to the Virginian Railway in 1940.
1942 - NS was reorganized for the last time as the Norfolk Southern Railway.
1974 - The Southern Railway bought the Norfolk Southern Railway and merged it into the Carolina and Northwestern Railway, but kept the Norfolk Southern Railway name.
1982 - The Carolina and Northwestern name was brought back to the NS to clear the NS name for the planned merger of the Southern Railway with the Norfolk and Western Railway.
1982 - The new Norfolk Southern Railway was formed from the Norfolk and Western and the Southern.
Current - Norfolk Southern still owns the main line from Gulf (near Cumnock) northeast to Raleigh. The part from Gulf west to Charlotte (as well as the branch to Aberdeen) is now the Aberdeen, Carolina and Western Railway, the part from Edenton north to Norfolk is now the Chesapeake and Albemarle Railroad, and the Belhaven-Pinetown branch as well as the Plymouth-Raleigh segment is now operated by the Carolina Coastal Railway. The line between Plymouth and Edenton has been abandoned, with the famous Albemarle Sound Trestle having been demolished in the late 1980s.

NS old map
Norfolk Soutern Timetable Map - 1934


Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
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Official Guide- various editions
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, April 30, 2009, revised Sept. 18, 2011