North Carolina Railroads - Seaboard Air Line Railway / Railroad

Acronym

Year Chartered or Incorporated

Year Line Operational

Year Service Ended

Original Starting Point

Original Ending Point

SAL

1892

1892

1967*

-

-

* 1967 merged with Atlantic Coast Line Railroad to become Seaboard Coast Line Railroad.
+ 1960s - Sold assets to the Red Springs & Northern Railroad
+ 1946 - Reorganized as the Seaboard Air Line Railroad (was Seaboard Air Line Railway).
+ 1915 - Merged with the Carolina, Atlantic & Western Railroad under agreement dated October 11, 1915 in Virginia. Filed with the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia on November 15, 1915; filed with the Secretary of State of North Carolina on November 15, 1915; filed with the Secretary of State of Georgia on November 17, 1915; filed with the Secretary of State of Alabama on November 17, 1915; and with the Secretary of State of Florida on November 17, 1915. Originally took the name of the Carolina, Atlantic & Western Railroad being later changed to Seaboard Air Line Railway, also in November of 1915.
The following are the acquisitions of railroads associated with North Carolina:
+ 1911 - Acquired the Raleigh & Charleston Railroad (closed 1941).
+ 1911 - Formally merged in the Roanoke & Tar River Railroad.
+ 1906 - Formally merged in the Oxford & Coast Line Railroad.
+ 1903 - the corporation formed by such consolidation, was, by agreement dated June 27, 1903, filed in the office of the Secretary of State for the States of Virginia, South Carolina. Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, August 15, 1903; and for the State of North Carolina, August 17, 1903, and under such general and special laws of the several States merged with the Florida Central and Peninsular Railway Company, the corporation formed by the merger and consolidation of the Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad Company, incorporated under the laws of Florida, by letters patent, iaaued November 17, 1888, amended and enlarged December 13, 1892, and by Act of legislature approved June 4, 1897.
+ 1900 - Officially incorporated on April 10, 1900 as the Seaboard Air Line Railway Company. Consolidation authorized in VA by legislative Act of January 12, 1900. Consolidation authorized in NC by legislative Act of February 27, 1901.

The formation of the Seaboard Air Line system between 1881 and 1890:

+ 1894 - Palmetto Railroad (leased by Raleigh & Augusta Air Line)
+ 1890 - Carolina Central Railroad
+ 1890 - Durham & Northern Railroad
+ 1888 - Georgia, Carolina & Northern Railroad
+ 1886 - Pittsboro Railroad (leased by Raleigh & Augusta Air Line)
+ 1885 - Louisburg Railroad (leased by Raleigh & Gaston Railroad)
+ 1881 - Raleigh & Augusta Air Line Railroad
+ 1881 - Raleigh & Gaston Railroad
+ 1881 - Roanoke & Tar River Railroad (leased by Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad)
+ 1881 - Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad

+ 1881 - Along with the Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad, the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad, and the Raleigh & Augusta Air Line Railroad, began the affiliation known as the Seaboard Air Line system.


SAL Number 214 - Was R&G Number 22

From the 1st Annual Report of the North Carolina Railroad Commission, dated December 31, 1891:

LINES CONTROLLED AND OPERATED IN NORTH CAROLINA:

Carolina Central Railroad ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 267
Durham & Northern Railway--------------------------------------------------------------------- 42
Georgia, Carolina & Northern Railway ---------------------------------------------------------- 14
Louisburg Railroad ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 10
Pittsboro Railroad ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 12
Raleigh & Augusta Air-Line ---------------------------------------------------------------------107.27
Raleigh & Gaston Railroad----------------------------------------------------------------------- 97
Roanoke & Tar River Railroad--- --------------------------------------------------------------- 32.30
Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad------------------------------------------------------------------ 19.02
TOTAL ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------600.59 miles

The profitable and efficiently-managed Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad (of Virginia), and the steadily-improving Raleigh & Gaston Railroad connected at Weldon, NC, offering their combined customers a very good option for transporting goods a fairly long distance. Thus in 1870, the route of the combined railroads became locally known as the Seaboard-Inland Air Line.

In 1871, the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad came into control of a railroad then under construction southward from Raleigh and renamed that year as the Raleigh & Augusta Air Line Railroad. This new road reached Hamlet, NC, ninety-seven (97) miles south of Raleigh, in 1877, and formed a connection with the Carolina Central Railway, then operating across the state from Wilmington, through Charlotte, to Shelby.

The depression years of the 1870s, along with heavy advances to the Raleigh & Augusta Air Line Railroad, caused the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad to run into financial difficulties. Looking out for the best interest of both his own company and of the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad, President John M. Robinson of the Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad, in 1873, acquired control of the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad and its new subsidiary, the Raleigh & Augusta Air Line Railroad. In October of 1875, Mr. Robinson became president of both the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad and the Raleigh & Augusta Air Line Railroad.

In 1873, the Seaboard & Raleigh Railroad was created as a merger of the Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad and the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad. Both retained their identities until 1900 when officially merged into Seaboard Air Line Railway.

In November of 1881, the Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad was able to acquire control of the Carolina Central Railroad. Its new president was now, once again, John M. Robinson, who was also the president of the Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad, the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad, and the Raleigh & Augusta Air Line Railroad. The growing company, which had until this time had been primarily a north-south line, now owned a significant east-west line, and its "system" was becoming formidable.

The Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad acquired the Georgia, Carolina & Northern Railroad soon after it was chartered in 1886, and completed its construction in 1892, one year before President John M. Robinson finally passed away.

In 1892, John M. Robinson created the Seaboard Air-Line Company, which was a through rail-water route between Baltimore, MD and Atlanta, GA. From 1892 to 1900, the new company operated a fairly loose affiliation of the various railroad lines owned by the Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad and the Baltimore Steam Packet Company (referred to as the Bay Line) which connected several eastern seaports. The Old Dominion Steamship Company joined in this route by furnishing direct connection at Portsmouth, VA with its New York boats.

In 1893, President John M. Robinson died, and was succeeded by R.C. Hoffman, who continued to maintain the company headquarters in Baltimore, MD. E. St. John was elected as Vice-President, and Thomas J. Anderson was General Passenger Agent - located at Portsmouth, VA. A change was made in 1898 when John Skelton Williams acquired control of the Seaboard Air-Line Company, whose system at that point in time operated 946 miles of track in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. In addition, the Bay Line steamers ran daily between Baltimore, Old Point Comfort, Norfolk, and Portsmouth, and for several years towards the end of the century, into Richmond.

The Atlantic Coast Line had in August of 1894 made a historic run from Jacksonville, FL to Washington, DC, with the fastest portion of that trip from Ashley Junction to Florence in South Carolina, which was made at an average speed of 58.3 mph. In November of 1896, a Board of Directors meeting for several of the various companies of the Seaboard Air-Line was held in Raleigh. After that meeting, the board and President St. John went from Raleigh to Gaston aboard the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad (which the company owned), and boarded the Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad at Weldon for Portsmouth. To make a long story short, the company soon advertised to the public that this run had averaged "76 miles in 67 minutes," or 68 mph, just to prove to the public that the Seaboard Road could outrun the Atlantic Coast Line.

John Skelton Williams of Richmond assembled the new Seaboard Air Line Railway, an outgrowth of the acquistion of the earlier-named Seaboard Air-Line Company, over a five year period between 1895 and 1900, in a much swifter manner than John M. Robinson had put together the Seaboard & Roanoke Railroad system in the previous two decades.

In 1896, John Skelton Williams, along with his associates, including J. William Middendorf of Middendorff, Oliver & Company, bankers of Baltimore, MD, acquired control of the Georgia & Alabama Railway, then in operation between Savannah, GA and Montgomery, AL. The Georgia & Alabama Railway owned vast terminal properties at Savannah, and operated a total mileage of 458 miles, including branch lines to both Columbus and Albany in Georgia.

This project was accomplished in February of 1899, when John Skelton Williams and associates took over the 944-mile Florida Central & Peninsular Railroad from its previous owners, W. Bayard Cutting and R. Fulton Cutting of New York City. The FC&P extended southward from Columbia, SC to Tampa, FL, and westward from Jacksonville, FL to River Junction. On September 14, 1899, control of the 57-mile Atlantic, Suwannee River & Gulf Railway was added as a FC&P property.

In 1900, the tracks of the three major components forming the new railroad were joined through the contruction of only ninety-one (91) miles of main line trackage between Cheraw and Cayce in South Carolina. Two subsidiary organizations financed by Seaboard Air Line Railway performed this new work. First, the Chesterfield & Kershaw Railroad built the 55 miles above Camden to a connection at Cheraw with the Seaboard's small Palmetto Railroad, running eighteen miles northward to the future hub of the system at Hamlet, NC. Then, the South Bound Railroad Company of the FC&P system constructed the remaining thirty-six miles southward from Camden - both completed in 1900.

On April 10, 1900, the name of the Richmond, Petersburg & Carolina Railroad was changed to become the new Seaboard Air Line Railway that took over operation of the old Seaboard Air-Line System from Portsmouth to Atlanta, Wilmington, Rutherfordton, and Camden.

In December 1911, the Seaboard Air Line Railway acquired the Raleigh & Charleston Railroad, which intersected with the SAL at Smithboro to the northeast of Marion, SC and at Lumberton, NC. That same year, the Seaboard Air Line Railway formally merged in the Roanoke & Tar River Railroad. In November of 1915, the Seaboard Air Line Railway merged in the Carolina, Atlantic & Western Railroad.

With the acquisition of the Carolina, Atlantic & Western Railroad in 1915, a newly-reorganized Seaboard Air Line Railway set up six operating divisions, with headquarters in Raleigh, NC. The Virginia Division managed lines north of Raleigh. The North Carolina Division managed lines from Raleigh to Hamlet, Monroe, Rutherfordton, Wilmington, and Columbia. The South Carolina Division managed lines from Hamlet via Andrews and Charleston to Jacksonville and Baldwin and from Columbia to Savannah. The Georgia Division managed lines from Monroe to Birmingham. The Alabama Division managed lines from Savannah to Montgomery and Columbus. The Florida Division managed lines that went south and west of Jacksonville and Baldwin. The division offices were at Raleigh (also headquarters), Hamlet, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Savannah, and Tampa.

The new company quickly built a new line from Charleston to Savannah to compete with Southern Railway. This new route, which included a new bridge over the Savannah River, was opened in 1918, and since that time has been almost exclusively used for freight traffic between Hamlet, NC and Savannah, GA. Its easy grades allowed steam engines to handle about double the tonnage rated for freight lines coming out of Columbia, and was a very economical line to operate.

At this time, the new company began advertising itself as "The Progressive Railway of the South." It added the lettering "Co." to its rolling stock in 1916. In 1918, S. Davies Warfield became president of the company as well as the Old Bay Line.

After the Great War of 1914-1918, President Warfield led the Seaboard Air Line Railway Company into vast extension projects in the state of Florida to keep abreast of the real estate boom in that area during the early 1920s. Other railroads in both Florida and Georgia were added to the growing system.

Capital improvements were made over the entire system during this time, with heavier rail laid on the main line along with rock ballast. Beginning in 1926, Automatic Block Signals were installed between Richmond, Hamlet, and Monroe, as well as between Savannah and Jacksonville.

Upon the death of President Warfield in 1927, Legh R. Powell was named president. His administration leased a new building in Norfolk, VA for its headquarters. Thus stood the completed 4,500 mile line of the Seaboard Air Line Railway Company on October 29, 1919, when the stock market crashed in New York City and a state of business depression struck an unprepared nation.

Unfortunately, the Seaboard Air Line Railway was wedged in between the wealthy Atlantic Coast Line Railroad nearer the coast and the Southern Railway nearer the piedmont's fall line. With this fierce competition, the Seaboard Air Line Railway had not been able to accumulate the necessary financial resources to weather the lean years of the 1930s.

In December of 1930, the company was placed in the hands of receivers, and operated for fourteen and a half (14-1/2) years as a ward of the United States District Court in Norfolk, VA. Judge Luther B. Way presided on that bench at the time, and he was assisted by former SAL president Legh R. Powell, E.W. Smith, and then Henry W. Anderson. Soon, with loans from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation of the federal government, the equipment of the road was modernized with the purchase of ten new steam freight locomotives along with new and rebuilt passenger cars. The Portsmouth locomotive shops were moved to Jacksonville in 1936, but coach and car shops remained at Portsmouth.

The North Carolina Division was eliminated with the Wilmington and Rutherfordton lines going to the Georgia Division. The Virginia Division ran through to Hamlet and the new Carolina Division took over both main lines southward from Hamlet to Florida. With these changes, the old Alabama Division was revived with headquarters in Americus.

An unusually large number of wrecks during the WW-II years prompted the company to expedite the installation of Centralized Traffic Control with the return of peace.

Meanwhile, on May 31, 1945, the entire properties of the Seaboard Air Line Railway Company were sold under foreclosure at an auction held on the passenger depot platform in Portsmouth. The road was bought by bond holders for $52,000,500 and reorganized in 1946 as the Seaboard Air Line Railroad.

John W. Smith became president in 1952, and on March 1, 1958 merged into the company a short line railroad known as the Macon, Dublin & Savannah Railroad. In June of 1959, the company purchased all of the stock of the Gainesville Midland Railroad and later gave away the Midland's steam locomotives for exhibition purposes as souvenirs.

Finally, on July 1, 1967, President Smith of the Seaboard Air Lines Railroad Company and President W.T. Rice of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company merged their two companies to form the new Seaboard Coast Line Railroad.


Excerpted with edits from "Seaboard Air Line Railway - Steam Boats, Locomotives, and History," by Richard E. Prince - 1966. An excellent work with hundreds of great photos and tables with extra data.

From an October 27, 1899 article in the New York Times:

Headline - SEABOARD AIR LINE COMBINE, Raleigh and Gaston Railway to Absorb Many Roads.

RALEIGH, N.C., Oct. 26. -- A general meeting of the stockholders of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad Company will be held at the office of the company in Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday, Nov. 29, for the purpose of considering the change of its corporate title from that of "The Raleigh and Gaston Railroad Company" to "Sea-any other name that may be selected and -board Air Line Railroad Company" or agreed upon.

The meeting is held also for the purpose of considering the consolidation of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad Company with the following railroad companies, or any of them: The Raleigh and Augusta Air Line Railroad Company, the Durham and Northern Railway Company, the Roanoke and Tar River Railroad Company, the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad Company, the Louisburg Railroad Company, the Carolina Central Railroad Company, the Palmetto Railroad Company, the Chesterfield and Kershaw Railroad Company, the Georgia, Carolina and Northern Railway Company, the the Seaboard Air Line Belt Railroad Company, the Georgia and Alabama Railroad Company, the Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad Company, the Georgia and Alabama Terminal Company, the Logansville and Lawrenceville Railroad of Georgia, the Richmond, Petersburg and Carolina Railroad Company, the Pittsboro Railroad Company, the Southbound Railroad Company.

At this meeting also will be settled the terms and conditions upon which the consolidation with each of the above-named railroad companies shall be made, or its property and franchises acquired. This will make necessary an increase of the capital stock of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad Company from 15,000 shares of $100 each, aggregating $1,500,000, into 716,250 shares of $100 each aggregating $71,625,000.

This stock will be divided into two series of grades and provisions will be made for the preferences, conditions, and voting powers of each series or grade. The power to make this consolidation is given to this company under an Act of the General Assembly of North Carolina. 

The Sixth Annual Report of the North Carolina Corporation Commission for the Year Ending December 31, 1904, with Compilations from Railroad Returns for the Year Ending June 30, 1904, includes a breakdown and the routes of the various branches and divisions of the Seaboard Air Line Railway, including mileage:

Carolina Central Division (266 miles):
Wilmington
Hilton
Navassa
Phoenix
Northwest
Cronly
Armour
East Arcadia
Councils
Southwood
Rosindale
Elkton
Clarkton
Abbottsburg
Edward's Mill
Bladenboro
Allenton
Lumberton
Moss Neck
Pembroke
Pates
Red Banks
Alma
Maxton
Sutherlands
Laurinburg
Elmore
Laurel Hill
Old Hundred
Hamlet
Rockingham
Isleta
Steeles
Peedee
Lilesville
Wadesboro
Russellville
Polkton
Peachland
Marshville
Wingate
Monroe
Stout's
Indian Trail
Matthews
Sardis
Charlotte
Paw Creek
Mount Holly
Stanly Creek
Iron
Lincolnton
Crouse's
Cherryville
Waco
Stubbs
Shelby
Brushy Creek
Lattimore
Mooresboro
Ellenboro
Allens
Harrells
Bostic
Forest City
Eaves
Rutherfordton

Henrietta Branch (5 miles):
Ellenboro
Henrietta
Caroleen

Durham & Southern Division (41 miles):
Henderson
Watkins
Dickerson
Clay
Tar River
Hester
Creedmore
Benneham
Burton
East Durham
Durham

Georgia, Carolina & Northern Division (14.40 miles in NC):
Monroe
Potter
Waxhaw
Abbeville, SC
Elberton, GA
Athens, GA
Atlanta, GA

Louisburg Division (10 miles):
Franklinton
Katesville
Louisburg

Palmetto Division (7 miles in NC):
Hamlet
Osborne
Cheraw, SC

Pittsboro Division (12 miles):
Moncure
Pittsboro

Raleigh & Augusta Air Line Division:
Raleigh
Cary
Apex
New Hill
Merry Oaks
Moncure
Osgood
Colon
Sanford
Lemon Springs
Cameron
Reveille
Vass
Manly
Southern Pines
Aberdeen
Pine Bluff
Keyser
Hoffman
Cognac
Hamlet
Ghio
Gibson

Raleigh & Gaston Division (95 miles):
Raleigh
Millbrook
Neuse
Wyatt
Forestville
Wake
Youngsville
Franklinton
Lumsden
Kittrell
Bear Pond
Henderson
Greystone
Middleburg
Manson
Ridgeway
Norlina
Warren Plains
Macon
Vaughan
Littleton
Summit
Thelma (Gaston)
Bolling
Roanoke Junction
Weldon

Roanoke Rapids Branch (1 mile):
Roanoke Junction
Roanoke Rapids

Richmond, Petersburg & Carolina Division (5 miles in NC):
Norlina
Scott, VA
LaCrosse, VA
Petersburg, VA
Richmond, VA

Roanoke & Tar River Division (32.30 miles in NC):
Boykins, VA
Severn
Pendleton
Conway
Menio
Potecasi
Woodland
Rich Square
Twenty-Six Mile Siding
Roxobel
Kelford
Lewiston

Seaboard & Roanoke Division (17 miles in NC):
Weldon
Garys
Gumberry
Seaboard
Margarettsville
Suffolk, VA
Portsmouth, VA

The Thirteenth Annual Report of the North Carolina Commission for the Year Ending December 31, 1911, with Compilations from Railroad Returns for the Year Ending June 30, 1911, includes the routes of the Seaboard Air Line:

Wilmington to Rutherfordton (265 miles):
Wilmington
Hilton
Navassa
Phoenix
Northwest
Cronly
Armour
Bridgers
Jones
East Arcadia
Councils
Rosindale
Middle Swamp
Elkton
Felton
Clarkton
Abbottsburg
Ward's Cut
Bladenboro
Richardson
Dorr
Belamy
Cottingham
Allenton
Dresden
Lumberton
Ermine
Lowe
Moss Neck
Pembroke
Pates
Red Banks
Sellers
Alma
Maxton
Sutherlands
Covington
Waverly
Scotland Mill
Dickson Mill
Laurinburg
Omohundro
Elmore
Ida's Spur
Laurel Hill
Old Hundred
Joss Creek
Gibson Junction
Hamlet
Roberdel
Hannah Pickett
Rockingham
Lewarne
Cordova
Pee Dee
Lilesville
Wadesboro
Wadesboro Furniture Co.
Russellville
Polkton
Peachland
Marshville
Wingate
Monroe
Bakers
Stouts
Indian Trail
Stallings
Matthews
Sardis
Charlotte
Chadwick
Paw Creek
Beattie
Mount Holly
Woodlawn
Kondike
Stanly Creek
Alexis
Iron
Millers
Lincolnton
Saxony
Lendo
Crouses
Cherryville
Waco
Stubbs
Shelby
Shelby Waterworks
Lawndale Junction
Lattimore
Mooresboro
Ellenboro
Bostic
Forest City
Eaves
Rutherfordton

Ellenboro to Caroleen (8 miles):
Ellenboro
Cliffside Junction
Henrietta
Caroleen

Henderson to Durham (41 miles):
Henderson
Watkins
Dickerson
Clay
Tar River
Hester
Creedmoor
Bennehan
Redwood
Burton
East Durham
Durham

Dickerson to Oxford (5 miles):
Dickerson
Oxford

Monroe to Waxhaw (12 miles):
Monroe
Houston
Mineral Springs
Washaw

Franklinton to Louisburg (10 miles):
Franklinton
Katesville
Louisburg

Hamlet to Columbia (7 miles):
Hamlet
Osborne
NC/SC State Line

Moncure to Pittsboro (11 miles):
Moncure
Pittsboro

Raleigh to Hamlet (97 miles):
Raleigh (Johnson Station)
A&M Spur
Cary
Apex
Jordans
New Hill
23-Mile Siding
Bonsal
Merry Oaks
Edwards
Moncure
Deep River Lumber Co.
Seawell
Olives
Osgood
Colon
Sanford
Stone Quarry
Lemon Springs
Cameron
Vass
Lakeview
Kirby
Forbes
Manly
Southern Pines
Aberdeen
Pine Bluff
Keyser
Hoffman
Cognac
Hamlet

Raleigh to Weldon (96 miles):
Raleigh (Johnson Station)
Millbrook
Neuse
Wyatt
Forrestville
Wake Forest
Youngsville
Franklinton
Lumsden
Kittrell
Gill
Henderson
Greystone
Middleburg
Manson
Ridgeway
Norlina
Warren Plains
Macon
Vaughn
Foxburgh
Littleton
Summit
Thelma
Bolling
Roanoke Junction
Weldon

Weldon to Portsmouth (18 miles):
Weldon
Garys
Gumberry
Seaboard
Eberson
Margaretsville
Rogers
NC/VA State Line

Roanoke Rapids Branch (3 miles):
Roanoke Junction
Roanoke Rapids

Norlina to Richmond (7.5 miles):
Norlina
Wise
NC/VA State Line

Boykins, VA to Lewiston, NC (32.30 miles):
VA/NC State Line
Severn
Pruden
Montgomery Lumber Co.
Pendleton
Conway
Mikwaukee
Menlo
Lassiter
Potecasi
Woodland
Jessups
Rich Square
Roxobel
Kelford
Wimboro
Lewiston



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