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 other small companies. These other railroads included the Virginia and Carolina Coast Railroad; the Pamlico, Oriental & Western Railway; the Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad; and the Beaufort & Western Railroad. In 1910 the new railroad went through another name change, back to the Norfolk Southern Railroad following receivership in 1908. More growth followed in 1914 when NS added more than 156 miles to its network when it built 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 to the system after this time, most 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 (later Seaboard Coast Line). Other notable secondary lines included a 17.1-mile branch between Norfolk and Virginia Beach; a 17.0-mile branch between Pinetown and Belhaven; a 10.4-mile branch between Norfolk and Shelton (Little Creek); 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; a 33.3-mile branch between Star and Aberdeen; and finally the aforementioned Durham line. In 1910 it finally managed to eliminate car ferry 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, however. The company had trouble between the 1930s and 1940s including receivership during the Great Depression (where it defaulted on its lease to the Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad). NS again fell into bankruptcy during World War II when it was reorganized (for a final time) in early 1942 as the now well-known, original Norfolk Southern Railway. It had rebounded nicely after World War II. As Vice President J.R. Pritchard noted in 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 that year. Its freight consisted 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 heavy concentration of farms located in eastern North Carolina, which is still the case today under the Chesapeake & Albemarle.
Norfolk Southern remained relatively profitable through the postwar period, carrying on for the next three decades until the Southern Railway purchased it on the first day of 1974 and 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 the Southern renamed its Norfolk Southern Railway as the Carolina & Northwestern Railway (the very railroad it had just a few years earlier merged into the NS!). Per capita NS had perhaps the largest roster of Baldwin diesel locomotives, mostly operating its AS416 model. Even more interesting is that the Baldwins remained in use all of the way until the Southern Railway merger of the mid-1970s, long after other railroads had sold, traded in, or scrapped theirs due to reliability issues. Following the end of World War II NS began purchasing its first diesels (Baldwins) and had entirely replaced steam during 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. However, 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 Company 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 steam locomotive was retired,
marking the end of an era. While Baldwins dominated the NS roster they
were not the only such diesels 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 numbered 2001-2007.
They would prove to be the final new power it ever 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 in their 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.
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Original Norfolk Southern