North Carolina Railroads - Wilmington, Charlotte & Rutherford Railroad


Year Chartered or Incorporated

Year Line Operational

Year Service Ended

Original Starting Point

Original Ending Point





Wilmington, NC Charlotte, NC

Rockingham Shelby, NC
* 1873 - Re-organized as the Carolina Central Railway.
Was the Wilmington & Charlotte Railroad (for 1 day).

The Wilmington & Charlotte Railroad was incorporated on February 13, 1855, to construct a railroad between Wilmington and Rutherfordton within North Carolina. Its name was changed to the Wilmington, Charlotte & Rutherford Railroad on the next day - February 14, 1855.

Construction of the Wilmington, Charlotte & Rutherford Railroad was done in two phases and began in 1857. Work was started at Wilmington to connect to Charlotte. At the same time work began at Charlotte to connect to Rutherfordton. For several months construction of the railroad was halted making the end of the line Brevard's Station. At this temporary end of the line a wye was constructed for a train turn around. During the months that construction of the railroad was delayed, hacks or horse-drawn carriages were provided for travelers to Lincolnton or surrounding areas.

The railroad was completed to Lincolnton in April of 1861. The Wilmington to Charlotte stretch of the railroad was stopped in 1861 after reaching Rockingham.* [see below] The beginning of the U.S. Civil War brought a halt to further construction of the railroad, with exception of a stretch of road leading from Lincolnton to Cherryville, which was completed in November of 1862.

The 78.8 mile tangent from a point near East Arcadia, in Bladen County, to Laurel Hill, in Scotland County, is still considered the longest stretch of straight track in this country.

Considerable damage to this railroad during the U.S. Civil War was attributed to the Confederate Army, which stripped much of the rail for use on other more important lines. Upon the fall of Wilmington in February of 1865, the company's trestle over the Big Swamp, several miles east of Lumberton, was ordered burned by the army of the Confederacy. After the war, the railroad was rebuilt, and new construction was resumed in 1870, with nine miles of new track was laid between Rockingham and the Great Pee Dee River.

Entrance into Wilmington was gained in 1867 over the Wilmington Railway Bridge Company, which was jointly owned by the Wilmington, Charlotte & Rutherford Railroad and the Wilmington, Columbia & Augusta Railroad. This company owned bridges across both the Cape Fear River and the North East River, together with about 2-1/2 miles of track between Navassa and Hilton in Brunswick County.

After the Civil War, the railroad went into receivership. On April 10, 1873, the Wilmington, Charlotte & Rutherford Railroad was reorganized as the Carolina Central Railroad and the next year the road was completed to Charlotte.

*Mr. Joseph Scarborough provided the following information in July of 2014:

According to the "Proceedings to the Stockholders of the Wilmington, Charlotte & Rutherford Rail Road Company," the meeting held in Wilmington, NC, October 25th, 1866, construction from Sand Hills Station, NC, then the terminus of the line [east of present-day Hamlet, NC and west of Old Hundred], contracts for the grading of the road from Sand Hills Station to Rockingham weren't entered into until January of 1866.

Apparently, the railroad was not completed to Rockingham in 1861 as stated above, but only to Sand Hills Station. Mr. Scarborough also provided a copy of the report:

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

The Carolina Central Railroad Company was organized July 14, 1880, under laws of the State of North Carolina, under an Act to incorporate the Wilmington & Charlotte Railroad Company (1855), an Act that the name of the Wilmington & Charlotte Railroad Company shall be altered and the same company shall be known and styled the Wilmington, Charlotte & Rutherford Railroad Company, ratified February 14, 1885; an Act to incorporate the Carolina Central Railway Company; December, 1873; and an Act to perfect the organization of the Carolina Central Railroad Company, ratified January 18, 1881.

The corporate powers of this Company are granted for ninety-nine years from the passage of the Act creating the Wilmington & Charlotte Railroad Company, passed at the session of 1855.

The original purpose of this Company was to effect railroad communication between Wilmington and Charlotte, by way of Lumberton, Rockingham and Wadesboro and Monroe, with a capital stock of $2,000,000, with the privilege of increasing the same to $3,000,000. Its capital stock was further increased $1,000,000 for the purpose of continuing said road to a point at or near the town of Rutherfordton.

Property Operated:

Carolina Central Railroad Company, from Wilmington, NC, to Rutherfordton, NC, 264.60 miles.

Wilmington Railway Bridge Company, from Wilmington, NC, to Meare's Bluff, NC, 2.40 miles.

Towns on Route:

Line #1 - Wilmington to Rockingham:


Hood Creek (1850s)

Phoenix (1873)



Rosindale (1869)

Vicksburg (1873) > Elkinsville (1874) > Elkton (1888)

Western Prong > Brown Marsh (1866) > Dalton (1870) > Clarkton (1873)

Bladen (1866) > Abbottsburg (1869)

Bryants Swamp > Bladenboro (1866)

Yorkville (1867) > Richardson (1889)

Bear Bay (1871) > Allenton (1874)


Buies Store (1866) > Red Banks (1867)

Plummerville (1870-1890)

Gilopolis (faded 1866)

Shoe Heel (1866) > Maxton (1886)

Stewartsville (faded 1860s)

Laurel Hill > Laurinburgh (1855) > Laurinburg (1893)

Laurel Hill #2 (1866)

Marks Creek (1854-1857)


Line #2 - Charlotte to Shelby:


Woodlawn > Mount Holly (1888)

Brevard (1860s)

Stanleys Creek (1856) > Stanley (1894)

Iron Station (1867)


White Pine > Cherryville (1865)

Buffalo (1850s)


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