1. Home
  2.  ›
  3. Short Lines
  4.  ›
  5. North Carolina

North Carolina Short Line Railroads

Last revised: October 13, 2023

By: Adam Burns

rsnr10428dritu71038.jpgRed Springs Northern 70-tonner #104 is dwarfed by its cars as the little switcher rumbles along near Lumber Bridge, North Carolina. Warren Calloway photo.

Aberdeen & Rockfish Railroad

(reporting mark, AR):  The historic Aberdeen & Rockfish has been family owned since it was chartered during 1892 by John Blue.  

The road was built to serve the region's timber industry but has since transitioned to serve a wide range of customers on its main line between Fayetteville and Aberdeen via Raeford (about 47 miles).  

Today its freight consists of lumber, forest products, building materials, chemicals, bulk commodities, fertilizer, and other traffic.  It also owns the small Pee Dee River Railway in northern South Carolina.

Aberdeen, Carolina & Western Railway

(reporting mark, ACWR):  The AC&W began in 1987 when it acquired a former Norfolk Southern line between Aberdeen and Star as part of the Class I's Thoroughbred Shortline Program.  

It also leases additional trackage between Charlotte and Gulf.  The road currently serves nearly two-dozen customers while also offering transload service, car storage and repair, locomotive leasing, and other services.

Alexander Railroad

(reporting mark, ARC): This historic railroad, also known as "The Junebug Line," dates back to 1946 when it was started to take over an abandoned Southern Railway branch, operates about 20 miles of track between Statesville and Taylorsville, North Carolina.  

Today, it still operates this line serving 20 customers and handling about 2,500 carloads annually.

Atlantic & Western Railway

(reporting mark, ATW):  This G&W property (since 2005) operates a short, 11-mile stretch of track north and south of Sanford.  

The history of the line traces back to 1896 and once ran between Sanford and Lillington, 25 miles.  Its current traffic consists of aggregates, brick/cement, food/feed products, and steel/scrap.

Blue Ridge Southern Railroad

(reporting mark, BLU):  This short line is another Watco property that began service in July, 2014 over 91.6 miles of former Norfolk Southern trackage in Western North Carolina.

It operates from Asheville to Hendersonville with trackage rights further south to East Flat Rock.  In addition, it enjoys trackage rights from Asheville to Murphy Junction, and then owns as far west as Dillsboro.  It handles wood chips, paper, plastics, cement, coal, Epsom salt products.

Caldwell County Railroad

(reporting mark, CWCY): The Caldwell County Railroad began service in 1994, operating 17 miles of track connecting Hickory and Lenoir, acquired from NS that year.  

The line's history dates back to the Southern and today about about 12 miles remain in service to Valmead.  It serves a handful of customers moving slightly over 400 carloads per year. 

Carolina Coastal Railway

(reporting mark, CLNA): This short line has been in service since 1989 acquiring former NS property through its Thoroughbred Shortline Program.  

Currently it operates 142 miles between Raleigh and Plymouth as well as a 17-mile line between Belhaven and Pinetown.  The road's traffic is primarily agriculture based.

Carolina Southern Railroad

(reporting mark, CALA):  This short line began service in 1995 taking over from the Waccamaw Coast Line a former CSX branch between Florence, South Carolina and Wilmington, North Carolina as well as the branch to Myrtle Beach.  

The route's history traces back to the Atlantic Coast Line.  It has not seen freight service since 2012 while awaiting repairs to bridges along the route.  However, a potential buyer for the line has been found and service hopes to resume in 2015 following repairs.

Chesapeake & Albemarle Railroad

(reporting mark, CA):  The C&A began service in 1990 by acquiring a section of the original Norfolk Southern from NS through the Class I's Thoroughbred Shortline Program running between South Norfolk, Virginia and Edenton, North Carolina via Elizabeth City.  

This original section of the old NS main line was acquired by RailAmerica in 2000 and is today a G&W property handling about 6,000 carloads annually.

Clinton Terminal Railroad

(reporting mark, CTR):  This privately-owned terminal road began operations in 1994 taking over from the Waccamaw Short Line about 3 miles serving the Clinton area, and adopting its current name in 1995.  It serves local business parks and provides transload services.

Kinston Railroad

(reporting mark, KNR):  Based in Kinston, North Carolina this short line was formerly owned by Gulf & Ohio Railways known as the Kinston & Snow Railroad.  In the summer of 2022 it was acquired by Jaguar Transport Holdings and renamed the Kinston Railroad.  It operates 5.7-miles to serve a 2,500 acre industrial park (N.C. Global TransPark) in Kinston.

Laurinburg & Southern Railroad

(reporting mark, LRS):  The historic Laurinburg & Southern is a short line dating back to 1909 running between Laurinburg and Wagram.  The road has been owned by Gulf & Ohio Railways since 1994 and currently handles freight including animal feed, soda ash, lime, fertilizer, chemicals, and glass.  It relies largely on switchers as standard road power.

Morehead & South Fork Railroad

(reporting mark, MHSF): Another Gulf & Ohio property this terminal railroad serves the Port of Morehead and has been in service since 2005.  It has been leased by Carolina Coastal since 2010 handling about 3,000 carloads annually.

North Carolina & Virginia Railroad

(reporting mark, NCVA): The NC&V is another G&W short line and operates 135 miles of track between Tunis, North Carolina and Boykins, Virginia and a connection with CSX.  

It began in 1987 acquiring former Seaboard Air Line property in its namesake states.  It was acquired by RailAmerica in 2000 before that company was taken over by G&W in 2012.  Its traffic currently consists of steel plates, steel scrap, soybeans, chemicals, and fertilizer.

RJ Corman/Carolina Lines

(reporting mark, RJCS):  Added to Corman's growing list of operations it officially opened for business during the last week of March, 2016.  

The system utilizes 90 miles of what was the Carolina Southern Railroad, a short line that had operated the former Atlantic Coast Line properties between 1995 and 2011 after acquiring the trackage from CSX Transportation.  

Its route stretches from Mullins, South Carolina to roughly Chadbourn, North Carolina with a long branch from that point make its way to the popular resort of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Thermal Belt Railway

(reporting mark, TBRY): This short line operates just about 9 miles of track between Bostic and Spindale with a connection to CSX at Thermal.  It has been in service since 1990 when it acquired about 16 miles of former SAL trackage from CSX.  Since then, about 7 miles have been abandoned.  It's only current traffic is a small transload facility.

Virginia Southern Railroad

(reporting mark, VSRR): The Virginia Southern Railroad is owned by the North Carolina & Virginia (a G&W subsidiary), operating between Oxford, North Carolina and Burkeville, Virginia.  It first began service in 1988 through the NS Thoroughbred Program over former Southern trackage.


Wilmington Terminal Railroad

(reporting mark, WTRY):  This terminal road switches the Port of Wilmington, which began operations in 1986.  It has been under G&W control since 2005 handling chemicals, forest products, pulp/paper products, petroleum products, and steel.

Yadkin Valley Railroad

(reporting mark, YVRR): This railroad is another G&O property that owns 93 miles of track between Mount Airy and North Wilkesboro.  It first began service in 1989 over former Southern trackage, another short line created through the Thoroughbred Program.  

The road's traffic today totals nearly 13,000 annual carloads including poultry feed ingredients, wood products, steel, plastics, propane, ethanol, and rail car storage.

Recent Articles

  1. Nickel Plate Road PA-1 #190: A Reborn Icon

    Jul 24, 24 12:35 AM

    41671mm1ll6pp70176f1vy807.jpg
    Nickel Plate Road PA-1 #190 is a replica of the original rebuilt by Doyle McCormack during a 21-year period before selling the engine in 2023.

    Read More

  2. The Railroad Diamond: Intersection of Steel and Precision

    Jul 23, 24 11:49 PM

    6004592575827chwy1678346.jpg
    The diamond has remained a fascinating location in railroading where two, or more, lines meet and cross. It has also been notoriously difficult to maintain.

    Read More

  3. The "Blue Goose": Santa Fe's Only Streamlined Engine

    Jul 23, 24 11:38 PM

    959239571264623581982769188620738.jpg
    Santa Fe 4-6-4 #3460 was part of its 3460 Class of 4-6-4s and was the railroad's only streamlined steam locomotive. It was utlimately scrapped in the 1950s.

    Read More