North Carolina Railroads - Wilmington, Brunswick & Southern Railroad


Year Chartered or Incorporated

Year Line Operational

Year Service Ended

Original Starting Point

Original Ending Point





Navassa, NC

Southport, NC

The greatest interest in this region at the end of the nineteenth century was shown by railroad promoters from far and wide who came up with proposals — apparently of a wide variety of quality ranging from poor to awful — to establish a railroad link between the port and inland destinations. One plan would have connected Southport with Memphis, TN, but even after Brunswick County voters approved a $100,000 bond issue, that project failed to materialize. Soon, another company, the Cape Fear & Cincinnati Railroad Company, proposed to use that $100,000, but it too fizzled.

A third plan, by the Brunswick, Western and Southern Railroad to link Southport with Knoxville, TN, made some headway after a Chicago group became involved.

Those entrepreneurs envisioned Southport as a coaling station and acquired waterfront property, but a new vote was needed to use $100,000 to capitalize the deal, and although those voters who turned out approved the venture, a majority of eligible voters was not mustered, and that deal failed as well. Several more endeavors failed to lay track through the early part of the twentieth century’s first decade.

Only when the Panama Canal was under construction between 1904 and 1914 did "railroad fever" sweep Brunswick County and Southport. During the canal's construction, a small line, the Wilmington, Brunswick and Southern Railroad, was incorporated with a plan to run rail from Little River, SC, to Southport, NC, then to Navassa, NC, where it would connect with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.

The railroad was thirty miles long and completed in 1911. The capital stock was valued at $165,000. Its first officers were: M.J. Corbett - President; H.C. McQueen - Vice President; M.W. Divine - General Manager; and, H.E. Godwin - Traffic Manager.

The Wilmington, Brunswick & Southern Railroad (WB&S) — called by some the "Willing, But Slow" — began operation in 1911. The Southport News of December 7, 1911, celebrated that occasion: "Souvenir Railroad Edition — Covering Main Features of Southport’s Great Railroad Celebration November 23 — Program — Speeches by Governor Kitchin, Senator Simmons and Others — Banquets and Toasts."

The rails extended about thirty miles between its terminals, and the main interim station was at Bolivia, though there were other stops every few miles. However, the railroad never did go "southern" - that is, to Little River or any points further south than Southport.

By the time that World War II began in 1941, the Wilmington, Brunswick & Southern Railroad was struggling financially, and the War Department wanted the tracks for other more-useful steel recycling needs. By 1942, the railroad was shut down and the War Department got its steel. The remainder of the railroad was sold for scrap on July 19, 1943.

There are many references to this line as the Wilmington, Brunswick & Southport Railroad, but the correct name was the Wilmington, Brunswick & Southern Railroad.

Click Here for two photos showing the WB&S Railroad equipment, courtesy of the Brunswick County Historical Society.

Towns on Route:

Navassa (1916)

Lanvale (1912)

Town Creek




© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved