On November 24, 1906 the Norfolk & Southern Railway was created when the Norfolk Southern Railroad and Raleigh & Pamlico Sound Railroad (whose main line stretched from Washington, North Carolina west to Raleigh) merged, along with several smaller companies. These other railroads included the Virginia & Carolina Coast Railroad; the Pamlico, Oriental & Western Railway; the Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad; and the Beaufort & Western Railroad. In 1910 the new NS went through another name change when it reverted back to the Norfolk Southern Railroad following receivership in 1908. More growth continued into 1914 when more mileage was added by extending westward from Varina to Charlotte, reaching the latter city in 1916. This would be the extent of the road's main line, which stretched 383.3 miles from Norfolk to Charlotte. However, there was some additional expansion after this time, notably the Durham & South Carolina Railroad acquired on May 27, 1920, which gave NS another 40.5 miles.
This branch ran from the main line at Duncan and extended northward to Durham where additional connections were made with the Norfolk & Western, Southern, Durham & Southern, and Seaboard Air Line. Other secondary lines included a 17.0-mile branch between Pinetown and Belhaven; a 31.1-mile branch between Chocowinity and New Bern (added in 1906); a 31.5-mile branch between Phosphate Junction and Lee Creek; a 16.5-mile branch between New Bern and Bayboro; a 42.9-mile branch between Varina and Fayetteville; and a 33.3-mile branch between Star and Aberdeen. In 1910 it finally managed to eliminate car ferry service across Ablemarle Sound when it opened a 5.8 mile trestle from just east of Edenton at Hornblower Point to Mackey's Ferry. At its peak, following the opening to Charlotte, NS maintained a network of 907 miles. By 1951 this number had dropped to 870 miles and was down to 623 miles by 1969.
Times were not always good. The company had trouble during the 1930s and 1940s including receivership into the Great Depression where it defaulted on its lease of the Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad and gave up control in 1935. The A&NC had allowed it access deeper into North Carolina by reaching Goldsboro and Morehead City. After operating independently for several years the A&NC became a ward of the Southern in the late 1950s. In early 1942 Norfolk Southern became the now well-known, original Norfolk Southern Railway. It rebounded nicely after World War II. As Vice President J.R. Pritchard noted in an interview from 1951, "We're getting the road in fairly good shape now but it certainly has gone through its ups and downs and weird adventures. " In 1949 its traffic base had diversified far beyond wood products and totaled more than $8.7 million in gross revenues that year with freight consisting of everything from agricultural products (peanuts, potatoes, fruit, etc.) and catfish to petroleum products and heating coal. It even ran time freights! The company was an extremely important transportation artery for the Tarheel State's farming industry, which is still the case today under short line Chesapeake & Albemarle.
Norfolk Southern remained relatively profitable through the postwar period, carrying on for the next three decades until the Southern purchased it on the first day of 1974. It then merged the Carolina & Northwestern Railway into its new subsidiary. Interestingly, when the Southern and Norfolk & Western proposed to merge they needed the NS name. To accomplish this Norfolk Southern was renamed as the Carolina & Northwestern, the very railroad it had only a few years earlier merged into the NS! Per capita NS had perhaps the largest roster of Baldwin diesel locomotives. It acquired many different models but largely stuck with the builder's late era, AS416 model. Even more interesting, these units remained service through the Southern takeover during a time in which most other carriers had long since sold, traded in, or scrapped theirs. Norfolk Southern purchased its first diesels after the war and had entirely replaced its steam fleet by early 1954.
Diesel Locomotive Roster
|1-17||EMD||GP18||9-10/63||Entered the Southern roster with new high, short hood.|
|661-663||Baldwin||DS4-4-660||1-5/47||Retired in the 1960s.|
|701-703||GE||70-Tonner||6/48||Retired by Southern in 1978 save for 702, sold to Montpelier & Barre Railroad in June, 1967.|
|1001-1002||Baldwin||DS4-4-1000||1/46||Retired in the 1960s.|
|1501-1510||Baldwin||DRS6-4-1500||10/47-3/48||Retired in the 1960s.|
|1601-1605||Baldwin||AS416||5-7/51||Retired in the 1960s.|
|1606-1617||Baldwin||AS416||9/52-12/55||Retired by Southern following merger.|
|2001-2007||EMD||GP38||6/66-6/67||Entered the Southern roster with new high, short hood.|
Steam Locomotive Roster
The NS only operated a small contingent of steam locomotives, mostly 4-6-0 Ten-wheelers and 2-8-0 Consolidations; it also rostered a small fleet of 2-8-4 Berkshires.
|9, 10, 16||Mogul||2-6-0|
|31, 38, B-5||American||4-4-0|
According to the Norfolk & Southern Railway Historical Society the final revenue run under steam occurred on January 12th that year when 2-8-0 #538 completed its switching assignments at Glenwood Yard in Raleigh. A few weeks later on January 29th the last locomotive was officially retired from the roster,
marking the end of an era. While Baldwins dominated into the diesel era they
were not the only such locomotives the road owned. Aside from a small
fleet of General Electric 70-ton switchers it also purchased a crop of
eight Electro-Motive GP38's between 1966 and 1967.
These Geeps were the final new power the company acquired. In the spring of 2012 current Norfolk Southern announced intentions to honor several predecessor companies comprising its current system by painting a series of new locomotives into authentic corporate liveries. The original NS was included within this fleet and its red/orange scheme with yellow and black trim was adorned on ES44AC #8114. Today, the General Electric unit regularly roams the NS system.
Books Featured In This Article
Original Norfolk Southern