North Carolina Railroads - Elizabeth City & Norfolk Railroad


Year Chartered or Incorporated

Year Line Operational

Year Service Ended

Original Starting Point

Original Ending Point





Berkely, VA

Edenton, NC
* 1883 renamed to the Norfolk Southern Railroad (1st).

On January 20, 1870, the Elizabeth City & Norfolk Railroad was chartered to build a railroad line between Norfolk, VA, and Elizabeth City, NC.

The completion of the Elizabeth City & Norfolk Railroad in 1881 foretold a period of prosperity unlike any that Elizabeth City had ever seen. At the festive grand opening on May 26th, Richard B. Creecy, the editor of The Economist, declared that this day was "the dawn of a new era in our history, a new departure in our business prosperity, a new development in our industrial and social progress -- We enter today upon a career of prosperity that finds no parallel in our past history." The railroad was completed through Hertford to Edenton by December 15, 1881, and in January of 1883, much to the ire of the people of Elizabeth City, the railroad's name was changed to the Norfolk Southern Railroad to more accurately reflect its regional interest.

The railroad entered Elizabeth City from the northeast, through Camden County, having crossed the Pasquotank River near the site of the old Lamb's Ferry. While the railroad's main line skirted the town on the west as it continued to Hertford, a spur ran along the town's northern boundary before turning and terminating along the river at what is now North Poindexter Street. Their purchase of the former property of D. S. Kramer and Conrow, Bush, and Lippencott along the waterfront in the present-day Northside was particularly advantageous. This location provided the most convenient link between the railroad and the various steamship companies. These steamship lines also connected the city with points on the Chowan, Roanoke, and Neuse rivers.

In 1882, less than a year after the railroad's completion, the railroad company signed a five-year contract with the Old Dominion Steamship Company to make connections with the railroad in Elizabeth City and to provide passenger and freight service between Elizabeth City and New Bern and Washington, NC. This arrangement ended in 1887, with the Norfolk and Southern Railroad operating its own line of steamers and the Old Dominion Steamship Company continuing its Norfolk to New Bern-Washington route through the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal. This route change meant the loss to Elizabeth City of much of the trade of the Pamlico Sound region. During the summer, however, most vacationers going to the prospering resort at Nags Head were still dependent on taking a steamship from Elizabeth City.

On February 1, 1883, the name was changed to the Norfolk Southern Railroad, reflecting the company's ambitions to build further. It entered receivership for the first time in 1889, and was purchased April 29, and reorganized in May of 1891 as the Norfolk & Southern Railroad. By that time it had acquired trackage rights of the Norfolk & Western Railroad over the Elizabeth River into Norfolk. With the reorganization also came the acquisition of the Albemarle & Pantego Railroad in North Carolina from the John L. Roper Lumber Company, extending the line from Mackey on the other side of the Albemarle Sound from Edenton south to Belhaven on the Pungo River, a branch of the Pamlico River.

Towns on Route (in NC):

NC/VA State Line


Snowden (1883)

Bailey (1880) > Shaw (1882) > Shawboro (1883)

Belcross (1882)

Camden C.H. > Camden (1892)

Elizabeth City

Ohisko (1882)

Chapanoke (1882)

Winfall (1873)



© 2013 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved