North Carolina Railroads - Yadkin Railroad

Acronym

Year Chartered or Incorporated

Year Line Operational

Year Service Ended

Original Starting Point

Original Ending Point

YRR

1871

1891

1951*

Salisbury, NC

Norwood, NC
* 1951 - Re-acquired by Southern Railway.
+ 1938 - Albemarle to Norwood section abandoned.
+ 1916 - Sold as an Independent Line. Operated as its own entity.
+ 1894 - Leased by Southern Railway.
+ 1871 - Chartered on April 5, 1871 under the laws of North Carolina.
Built and operated by the Richmond & Danville Railroad

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

The Yadkin Railroad was completed to Norwood, NC, May 29th, 1891. The road is operated by the Richmond & Danville Railroad Company.

This company was chartered the 5th day of April, 1871, for the purpose of establishing communication from Salisbury to points on the Wilmington, Charlotte & Rutherford Railroad and the Cheraw & Salisbury Railroad, respectively, at or near Wadesboro.

Property Operated:

Yadkin Railroad, from Salisbury to Norwood, 41.15 miles.

The Yadkin Railroad was proposed to run from Salisbury to Albemarle and on to Norwood, which was a pretty active industrial town back in the 1870s, then on to Wadesboro in Anson County, NC. In fact, the charter for the railroad was granted on April 5, 1871. But, the folks in Stanly County would have to wait another nineteen years before the first spade of dirt was turned in the construction of this railroad.

It was pretty obvious that the folks who got the 1871 charter for the Yadkin Railroad from Salisbury to Wadesboro weren't going to really produce anything resembling a railroad. Also, the Richmond & Danville Railroad, operator of the newly-leased North Carolina Railroad, had a vested interest in controlling access to its mainline in Salisbury. The obvious happened: the Richmond & Danville Railroad pretty much bought up the stocks and bonds of the Yadkin Ralroad, and financed the construction of the Yadkin Railroad from Salisbury to Norwood.

The railroad was constructed between November of 1890 and September of 1891. No one knows why the Yadkin was stopped at Norwood, but the decision was made, and the end of the line was Norwood. The railroad was thirty-one (31) miles long. The Yadkin Railroad generated much freight traffic, but it also generated red ink in ever-increasing volumes.

The Southern Railway (evolution of the Richmond & Danville Railroad) lost money almost every year on its Yadkin Railroad investment, and the losses apparently were increasing steadily. The Southern Railway operated the Yadkin Railroad as a subsidiary, and it never had rolling stock of its own. In 1916, the Southern Railway had apparently had enough of the ever-mounting losses on the Yadkin, and "...released it to be on its own..." as of July 1, 1916.

In August of 1938, the Yadkin Railroad was allowed to abandon the Albemarle to Norwood portion of the line. This line paralleled the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway, and was clearly redundant. The line was physically dismantled by November 1, 1938.

Southern Railway reorganized in July of 1951, during which the Yadkin Railroad became a part of Southern's subsidiary, the Carolina & North-Western Railway.

A group of businessmen and railroad men met in Salisbury on August 31, 1886, to talk about building a railroad between Salisbury and Albemarle. A significant earthquake hit Charleston, SC, about 8 o'clock that night, rocking much of the East Coast.

Meeting at the home of Theodore F. Kluttz, the talks came to an abrupt end when the chairs began to move, and the house shook. The group of men left the house and went into the street where there were many people screaming and praying, according to an account by Sidney H. Hearne, of Albemarle, one of the participants. Among the others attending was Colonel John S. Henderson of Salisbury.

By 1889, Rowan County Commissioners saw the railroad as a potential economic boon, a way to open up mining and help market farm goods from eastern Rowan and Stanly County. On July 29, 1889, Colonel A.B. Andrews appeared before the board representing Greenville Construction Company of Massachusetts and told the board his company was ready to build a railroad. He asked for approval of the funding by subscriptions.

Rowan County commissioners set a referendum for September of 1889 to allow voters to decide on investing in the Yadkin Railroad Company. The commissioners were divided, commissioners J. Summer, Chairman W.L. Kluttz, and L.W. Coleman approved. Commissioners G.F. Baker and Cornelius Kesler dissented.

The referendum covered the townships where the railroad would be constructed: Salisbury, $50,000; Gold Hill, $7,000; Morgan, $3,000; and Providence Township, $4,000. If approved, the county would issue bonds at five percent interest for a period of forty (40) years. And the commissioners specified that the money would only be turned over once the railroad was completed.

“Thirty-two thousand dollars of the bonds for the township of Salisbury shall be delivered where a section of eight miles of said railroad shall be completed and running for the carriage of freight and passengers from the town of Salisbury in the direction of Stanly County, and $18,000 of the bonds of the township of Salisbury will be delivered as aforesaid when the said railroad is completed and running for the carriage of freight and passengers over another section of four and a half miles further in the direction of Stanly County.”

The commissioners gave the Yadkin Railroad Company fifteen (15) months — to October of 1891 — to complete the tracks and get the trains running.

Few voters stayed home for the referendum. Three of four townships approved the subscriptions. In Salisbury, the vote was overwhelmingly in favor — 703 to 7. The township had 902 qualified voters. Results were closer in Gold Hill — 145 in favor and 52 opposed. In Morgan, 107 voters approved and 20 opposed. Providence Township was solidly against the idea. Voters at Hatters Shop and Rowan Academy cast 121 votes against and 10 for.

In its early years, the Yadkin Railroad no doubt lived up to the dreams of its supporters.

On December 20, 1890, Edmond Lindsay, a resident of Lower Stone Church, bought the first ticket ever sold at the new depot in Rockwell. Lindsay, who was known locally as “Uncle Edmond,” paid 30 cents for a ticket. “He said he was going to Salisbury to get a quart of liquor, the best in the block, and bring it home for snake bites and medicine.”

The Yadkin Railroad Company opened its entire line for business on May 29, 1891. Its first seven months produced $8,700 in revenue. For nearly forty years, the trains provided passenger service and carried the mail.

The completion of thirty miles of concrete highway between Salisbury and Albemarle in 1927 dealt a death blow to the passenger train business. The state agreed to a petition from the railroad to end passenger service on January 1, 1929. As part of the agreement, the railway created a bus company, with J.W. Fletcher as the head. Fletcher was also superintendent of the Yadkin Railroad Company. Passenger service actually ended on December 2, 1928.

The railroad’s major business was freight. It served the stone quarries in eastern Rowan and Stanly counties. It also hauled tons of timber, cotton, and other products — 414,000 tons of goods in 1927. Cotton mills in Albemarle depended on the company, which delivered 38,000 bales of cotton to the mills in one year. In the same year, 1,500 cars of finished cotton products returned from Albemarle along the thirty-five (35) miles of track to Salisbury and on to northern cities.

Most of the stone, gravel, and cement that went into construction of the Salisbury-Albemarle highway — including 65,000 tons of stone, 32,500 tons of sand and 400 cars of cement — was shipped on the Yadkin Railroad. The aluminum business at Badin was a huge source of business for the railroad, bringing in thousands of tons of ore and hauling out the finished product.

In 1930, the Yadkin Railroad relocated its headquarters from the Brown building on Lee Street to the sixth floor of the Wallace Building at the corner of Main and Innes streets. Superintendent W.M. Archer found the new offices much more convenient.

While its freight business flourished, the Yadkin Railroad had some tough moments. The depot at Norwood burned on January 20, 1929.

“The Norwood depot, while not a very pretentious structure,was one of the largest and best on the Yadkin Railroad. It was a combination depot, housing the freight department, the express office, and the agent’s office, and contained a ticket office, telegraph office, and waiting room, which was in use before passenger train service was abandoned on the Yadkin in early December.”

U.S. Mail service was transferred from the train to the bus line in 1930.

“Peach Trains” were put together in the harvest months to bring peaches from the Sandhills and send them to big cities of the north. One of those peach trains jumped the tracks in Gold Hill on July 23, 1930, killing a fireman and injuring several others, including Elmer B. Kluttz, a brakeman who was badly scalded from steam. The mishap drew hundreds of people who parked for miles in either direction. Southern Railway sent in heavy equipment to untangle the mess. Officials said later that sand had piled up on the tracks from heavy rain causing the wreck.

Kluttz recovered from his injuries and became a conductor, but he would die in a similar train wreck twenty years later. He and two others perished in a wreck near Rockwell on July 14, 1950. Kluttz lived near Rockwell and was also the owner and operator of the Kluttz Music and Furniture Company. Kluttz and three others were severely scalded when the steam pipes of the cab burst as the engine went over the embankment. An investigation blamed dirt that had been piled on the track by highway work forces.

The Yadkin Railroad Company eventually merged into the Southern Railway and then Norfolk & Southern, although it still exits as a separate company.

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.

Towns on Route:

Salisbury

Woodside (1891) > Granite Quarry (1902)

Rockwell (1872)

Gold Hill

Gladstone (1891) > Misenheimer (1904)

Ritchies Mills (1891) > Richfield (1893)

Kendalls Store > Rilesville (1878) > New London (1891)

Albemarle

Porter (1892)

Norwood



© 2018 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved