North Carolina Railroads - Atlantic, Tennessee & Ohio Railroad


Year Chartered or Incorporated

Year Line Operational

Year Service Ended

Original Starting Point

Original Ending Point





Charlotte, NC

Statesville, NC
* 1894 - Purchased by Southern Railway on August 21, 1894.
+ 1881 - October 1, 1881 - leased by Charlotte, Columbia & Augusta Railroad for 99 years.

In February of 1855, the Atlantic, Tennessee & Ohio Railroad was incorporated, to run with one or more tracks and to be operated by steam, animal, or other power between Charlotte, NC and some point on the East Tennessee & Virginia Railroad, at or near Jonesboro, in Washington County, Tennessee, and form such connection by way of Moccasin Gap at Clinch Mountain in the State of Virginia, by the most practicable line to the head waters of Big Sandy River, thence the most eligible route to the Ohio River.

Commissioners were appointed to open books of subscription on the first Monday of July, 1854, and be kept open for twenty days, Sundays excepted, between 10 am and 4 pm at Boone and many other places, including points in Tennessee and Virginia. This road was to have crossed the Blue Ridge near the Coffey Gap and followed the Watauga River to Jonesboro. It has not been built yet, though nature had graded a road-bed for it from the foundation of the world.

The track was completed from Charlotte to Statesville before the Civil War, but the iron and cross ties were removed and laid down upon a grade constructed by the government of the Confederate States from Greensboro to Danville, Virginia, early in the Civil War - the Piedmont Railroad.

The track was relaid between Charlotte and Statesville soon after the close of hostilities, but it has never passed through the Coffey Gap or down the Watauga River, which still opens inviting arms to its construction.

By chapter XL (Laws 1871-72) the Charlotte and Taylorsville Railroad Company was authorized to build a road from Troutman's depot on the AT&O Railroad, in Iredell County, to Taylorsville, and thence, by or near Lenoir and Boone, the most practicable route, to some point on the Tennessee line. This stopped at Taylorsville, however, and is there yet.

In May of 1862 (?), the Atlantic, Tennessee & Ohio Railroad Company, a corporation chartered by the State of North Carolina, issued its coupon bonds, in sums of $500, to the amount of $151,000, payable at different periods from November of 1869, to November of 1875, with interest at the rate of six per cent a year, payable semi-annually. The bonds were endorsed and their payment guaranteed by the Charlotte & South Carolina Railroad Company, a corporation also chartered by the State of North Carolina.

The tracks were taken up during the Civil War because the Confederacy was in desperate need of track for its heavily traveled railroads. The line did not reopen until 1871.

The Atlantic, Tennessee & Ohio Railroad reached from Charlotte to Davidson in 1861 and to Statesville in March of 1863. Soon thereafter, the tracks were removed to provide rails for a line erected between Greensboro, NC, and Danville, VA, during the Civil War - the Piedmont Railroad. The AT&O was reconstructed after the Civil War and re-opened in its entirety in June of 1871.

Known for its abundance of racing shops, Mooresville’s nickname is “Race City USA.” The town is named after John Franklin Moore, who brought the Atlantic, Tennessee & Ohio Railroad to the area by promising to build a depot with a sidetrack for cotton shipments. This railroad made Mooresville a textile center and helped to facilitate its growth.

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

The Atlantic, Tennessee & Ohio Railroad was completed in 1860. In 1863 the rails were taken up and used for the Piedmont Railroad. Relaid June 22, 1871. Leased for ninety-nine years from October 1st, 1881, to the Charlotte, Columbia & Augusta Railroad Company. This lease assigned to the Richmond & Danville Railroad Company.

This company was chartered by the General Assembly, ratified the 5th day of February, 1855, for the purpose of establishing communication between the waters of the Atlantic and Ohio River through the States of North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky, an Act for like purpose having been passed by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee on the 26th day of February, 1852.

No limitation as to duration of its charter is expressed in the Act.

President ----------------------------- E. B. Springs-------------------------- Charlotte, NC.
Secretary------------------------------ J. J. Gormley------------------------- Charlotte, NC.
Treasurer ----------------------------- J. J. Gormley------------------------- Charlotte, NC.

Property Operated:

Atlantic, Tennessee & Ohio Railroad, from Charlotte to Statesville, 44.91 miles.

From an October 16, 1881 article in the New York Times:

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 15. - The Atlantic, Tennessee and Ohio Railroad, running between Charlotte and Statesville, was leased yesterday for 99 years, at an annual rate of $25,000 to the management of the Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta Railroad. The majority of the stock in the latter is owned by the Clyde syndicate, and the transaction adds 49 miles of road to the lines of that company.

Towns on Route:


Troutmans (1872) > Troutman (1956)

Granite Hill (1857) > Granitehill (1895) > Shepherds (1903)

Spring Grove

Mooresville (1871)

Mount Mourne

Davidson College > Davidson (1891)

Caldwell (1873-1876)

Creaghead (1856) > Huntersville (1873)



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