Other Key Railroads

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad

Perhaps the longest running of American railroads, B&O was among the first large-scale railroads.  It inspired practices that subsequent railroads implemented as standard operating procedures.

  • Chartered in Baltimore to compete with the canal freight traffic in 1827
  • Gave the first short, horse-drawn rides for pleasure in 1830
  • Experimented with steam/coal power and carriage designs through competitions in the early 1830s
  • Reached the Ohio River in 1853
  • Damaged significantly by Civil War battles
  • Prospered through World War industry
  • Merged into Chesapeake & Ohio in 1964

Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley Railway

  • Chartered as Western Rail Road Company in 1852
  • Reorganized by the state and name changed to CF & YV Railway in 1879
  • Entered Appalachians via Mount Airy and present-day Flat Rock in 1889
  • Financial difficulties ended in the 1898 public auction sale to Wilmington & Weldon Railroad, which shortly afterwards became the Atlantic Coast Line in 1895
  • Southern Railroad formed the Atlantic and Yadkin Railroad to buy Atlantic Coast Line’s northern lines
  • Southern Railroad absorbed the line in 1950 after a long period of decline
  • The remainder of the Atlantic Coast Line was phased out in a 1973 merger that turned ACL and Seaboard Air Line into Seaboard Coast Line

Clinchfield Railroad

  • Planned for future durability and income potentials
  • Overcame the mountains’ obstacles with innovative methods
  • Chartered the Charleston, Cincinnati and Chicago Railroad, a precursor line, in 1886
  • CCC sold at public auction in 1893 and formed the basis for the Ohio River and Charleston Railroad Company
  • George Carter bought OR&CR and formed the South & Western in 1902
  • A new charter in 1908 merged the S&W and several others into the Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio Railway
  • The railway was leased and began operating as Clinchfield Railroad in 1924
  • Merged into the CSX System in 1982

Norfolk Southern Railway

The result of the early 1980s merger between Norfolk & Western and Southern Railways, Norfolk Southern should not be confused with the Norfolk Southern Railway, which was incorporated into Southern in the 1970s. You can visit the NS website at www.nscorp.com.

Norfolk & Western Railroad

  • Formed as Atlantic, Mississippi, & Ohio Railroad (AM & O) in a 1870 merger between Southside Railroad Company (1846), Norfolk & Petersburg (1849), Virginia & Tennessee Railroad (1849), and proposed Virginia & Kentucky Railroad, which was never built
  • AM&O was sold at auction to C. H. Clark for $8,605,000 in 1881 and became Norfolk & Western
  • Norfolk & Western acquired Shenandoah Valley Railroad (1870) in 1890
  • The 1888 flood destroyed multiple bridges
  • Acquired the Virginia Carolina, which was nicknamed the “Virginia Creeper,” in 1917
  • Merged with Southern Railroad to form Norfolk Southern in 1980s

Southern Railway Company

  • Incorporated in 1894 and was the largest system in the South
  • Southern Railway Company acquired and leased several smaller railroads during its early years
  • Among the first to adopt the diesel train and was almost completely diesel by 1953
  • The Murphy Branch line was the only line able to transport supplies to Asheville after a major flood in 1916
  • State of North Carolina bought the Murphy Branch and leased it to The Great Smoky Mountains Railway for excursions in 1988

Western Maryland Railway

  • Chartered by the State of Maryland as the Baltimore, Carroll & Frederick Railroad to facilitate the agriculture trade in 1852
  • Became Western Maryland Railroad in 1853
  • Actively involved in the coal craze by 1870
  • Became Western Maryland Railway during a receivership in 1908
  • Acquired by Chesapeake & Ohio in 1968
  • Consolidated into Chessie Systems in 1973

Western North Carolina Railroad

  • Chartered in 1855 to connect the North Carolina Railroad at Salisbury to the French Broad River, and thereby the Mississippi
  • Heavily damaged during the Civil War but without the heavy pre-war debts that plagued the railroad industry
  • Richmond & Danville RR Co. buys the State shares in 1884
  • Southern Railway Company formed from R&D, WNC & NCR in a 1892 reorganization