North Carolina Railroads - Winston-Salem South Bound Railway


Year Chartered or Incorporated

Year Line Operational

Year Service Ended

Original Starting Point

Original Ending Point




Still Operational

Winston-Salem, NC

Wadesboro, NC

Jointly owned by CSX Transportation, Inc. and Norfolk Southern Railway
+ 1960 - Acquired the High Point, Thomasville & Denton Railroad.
aka Winston-Salem Southbound Railroad. Both used in many references, but Railway is the correct name. 

The Winston-Salem Southbound Railway began operations in 1910. It was jointly owned by Norfolk & Western Railway and the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. It began at the Norfolk & Western Railroad connection in Winston-Salem, NC at the north end, and ended at the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad connection in Wadesboro, NC at the south end.

Ownership of the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway is still split 50/50 between its parent roads Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation, Inc. - direct successors to the original owners of 1910.

On April 25, 2006, the Norfolk Southern Railway Company, the Yadkin Railroad Company, a wholly owned subsidiary, and the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway Company, a Class III switching carrier owned equally by Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation, Inc., jointly filed with the Surface Transportation Board an amended petition for exemption:

(1) For NSR to discontinue service over 11.11 miles of rail line (the Line) between milepost WF-0.00 at Halls Ferry Junction and milepost WF-11.11 at Badin in Stanly County, NC, which it operates under lease from YRC;

(2) for YRC to discontinue service over the Line, which it leases from Alcoa, Inc., the owner of the Line's right-of-way, track, and improvements; and

(3) for WSSB to discontinue service over the 5.21-mile portion of the Line between milepost WF-5.90 at Whitney, NC, and milepost WF-11.11 at Badin, which it and YRC jointly lease from Alcoa.

The Line traverses United States Postal Service Zip Code 28001 and serves the station of Badin. NSR will continue to serve the Halls Ferry Junction station, and WSSB will continue to serve the Whitney station.

N&W Engine Number 519 - The First Run on the WSSB

The Winston-Salem Southbound Railway was originally conceived in 1891 to be called the Winston and Wadesboro Railroad. The primary function of this new railroad was to haul coal to the U.S. Navy at Charleston, and to bring fertilizer and other imports back from that port.

The original plan for the road was to go to Lexington because of all the textile mills and furniture factories, then to run six miles east of the town of Albemarle - but, this was later changed to run through the town - and on to Norwood because it was the site of an important cotton mill and a flour mill. Ansonville was next due to its five stores, and Wadesboro was a center for cotton production. Agricultural products were the primary concern, however it is interesting to note that tobacco was not among them - yet.

Other routes were considered, but rejected. A line through Thomasville was considered, but the grade would be prohibitive and cost more than local traffic could offset. A route through Salisbury was also considered, but this line would parallel forty-one (41) miles of the Southern Railway and could not be justified.

A charter was granted to the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway on January 31, 1905. Incorporaters were F.H. Fries, W.A. Lemly, James A. Gray, A.E. Holton, C.A. Reynolds, J.C. Buxton, H.A. Pfohl, James K. Norfleet, A.H. Eller, H.E. Fries, and C.B. Watson. F.H. Fries was named chairman. On March 15, 1905, O.H.P. Cornell was chosen Chief Engineer. He surveyed the line in 1905-1906. In May of 1905, a contract was awarded to Wheeling Contracting Company to construct the road.

In May of 1906, Southern Railway quietly acquired a significant amount of the railroad's stock, and began helping the new company. However, tight money markets forced the company to announce in October of 1906 that construction would have to be delayed, and all contracts were cancelled, with some penalties paid.

In March of 1909, the foundering company approached the Norfolk & Western Railroad and the Atlantic Coast Line for assistance, asking them to buy out Southern Railway's interest. In April of 1909, the Norfolk & Western Railroad purchased all of Southern Railway's stock in the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway. The Norfolk & Western Railroad and the Atlantic Coast Line moved quickly to form a joint venture, and on June 25, 1909, they advised the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway to start construction.

Official announcement was made on Saturday, June 26, 1909, by the presidents of the Atlantic Coast Line and the Norfolk & Western Railroad, that their companies had entered into a contract to furnish the necessary funds to bring the road to completion. Early September saw the first temporary track laid in Winston, from the Southern Railway to Salem Creek Bridge, to bring in construction materials.

The formal contracts were signed on July 20, 1909, at a reception held in the Palm Room of the Zinzendorf Hotel in Winston-Salem. Officials of the Norfolk & Western Railroad, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway attended. Directors elected included L.E. Johnson - President of the Norfolk & Western Railroad; T.M. Emerson - President of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad; Alexander Hamilton - Vice-President & General Counsel of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad; Joseph T. Doran - Chief Counsel of the Norfolk & Western Railroad; and, H.E. Fries of the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway.

Contracts for construction were awarded in August of 1909, with the Norfolk & Western Railroad to be in charge of the construction work. So large was the project that the construction work was divided among several companies in order to complete the line within a year's time. The last spike was driven on November 23, 1910.

The first passenger coach left Winston-Salem on the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day - November 24, 1910, going to Wadesboro behind a Norfolk & Western Railroad 50-ton locomotive No. 519, and N&W coach No. 957. The train left at 12:35 p.m. and arrived at 7:00 p.m.

Regularly scheduled passenger service commenced from Winston-Salem to Whitney on December 17th; Winston-Salem to Albemarle on February 13, 1911; and Winston-Salem to Wadesboro on March 3, 1911. On May 1, 1911, the first through train from Winston-Salem to Florence, SC was operated. An Atlantic Coast Line Railroad engine took over in Wadesboro for the final portion of the run to South Carolina.

Passenger service steadily increased to its peak in 1917, with about 151,294 that year. At this time, there were ten passenger trains on the road, four running the entire length and six between Whitney and Badin. From 1917 on, ridership declined due to increased competition from the growing number and quality of state highways. By 1932, only 2,652 passengers rode on the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway, so on July 8, 1933 all passenger service was discontinued.

Since the Norfolk & Western Railroad continued to operate with steam engines, there was no hurry to dieselize the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway. A new day dawned on April 22, 1957, when four new diesels arrived, priced at about $190,000 each. With diesels in full command, the handmaidens of steam engines, the water tanks and coaling stations would soon disappear, as did the dark smudges of coal smoke.

In 1960, the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway acquired the High Point, Thomasville & Denton Railroad, but continues to be operated as a separate company with traffic interchange at High Rock, NC. There are no through trains between the two lines.

Towns on Route:


Eller (1911)



Southmont (1911)

High Rock (1911)

Newsom (1911)

Milledgeville > Tuckertown (1910)

Whitney (1912) > Badin (1916)






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