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Norfolk Southern Corporation (1982-)


Historical Note (Norfolk & Western Railroad Company)

The Norfolk and Western Railroad was organized in 1881 from the Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad, which had been sold to the Philadelphia investment banking firm of E.W.Clark and Company. The Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio, in turn, had been created in 1870 by the merger of three Virginia railroads with antebellum origins: the Norfolk and Petersburg (connecting these two cities), the Southside (running from Petersburg to Lynchburg), and the Virginia and Tennessee (running from Lynchburg to Bristol on the Tennessee border).

Primarily a line carrying agricultural products at its inception, the Norfolk and Western rapidly became associated with the mineral development of the southwestern part of Virginia and West Virginia. In mid-1881 it acquired the franchises to four other lines: the New River Railroad, the New River Railroad, Mining and Manufacturing Company, the Bluestone Railroad, and the East River Railroad. These became the basis for Norfolk and Western's New River Division, which ran to the coalfields to the west.

Much of the early history of the Norfolk and Western Railroad can be seen as expansion and consolidation with other lines. In 1890, it acquired the Shenandoah Valley Railroad, which ran from Roanoke, Virginia, to Hagerstown, Maryland. By 1891, an Ohio extension was well underway, giving the railroad access to the industrial Midwest. In 1892, Norfolk and Western leased the Roanoke and Southern Railroad, connecting Roanoke with Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and in 1893 it leased the Lynchburg and Durham, connecting Lynchburg with Durham, North Carolina. But this program of expansion, coupled with the economic depression of the 1890s, forced the railroad into receivership in 1895. It emerged as the reorganized Norfolk and Western Railway the next year.

Historical Note (Norfolk & Western Railway Company)

The Norfolk & Western Railway was established through a reorganization of the bankrupt Norfolk and Western Railroad in 1896, the latter company itself having arisen from the Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio Railroad, a successor to the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad. Through expansion and various mergers, the N&W grew to become a major U.S. carrier, serving 14 states. The company manufactured steam locomotives at its own Roanoke Machine Works (established in Roanoke, Virginia in 1882), and among the railroad's affiliated holdings were several hotels (represented in this collection by the Bluefield Inn and the Hotel Roanoke). Among the company's larger merger acquisitions was the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad--the "Nickel Plate Road"--in 1964. (Other acquisitions represented in this collection are the Atlantic & Danville Railway (1962); the New Jersey, Indiana & Illinois Railroad (through acquisition of the Wabash Railroad, 1962); and the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway (acquired and operated jointly with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, 1909).) In 1982, the N&W combined with the Southern Railway to form Norfolk Southern Corporation.

Historical Note (Southern Railway)

The Southern Railway was created in 1894 through the reorganization of the Richmond and Danville Railroad-Richmond and West Point Terminal Railway and Warehouse Company complex. Southern's origins, however, can be dated to 1827, when the earliest of its antecedents, the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company, was chartered. This line, which ran 136 miles from Charleston to Hamburg, South Carolina, was for a time in the 1830s the longest railroad in the world. Other antebellum predecessors of the Southern Railway system include the Hiwassee Railroad incorporated in Tennessee in 1836 and the forerunner of the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad system) and the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, chartered in 1846.

Southern's direct predecessor, the Richmond and Danville Railroad, was incorporated in Virginia in 1847; its main line, connecting Richmond and Danville, was opened in 1856. The Richmond and Danville's early acquisitions included the Piedmont Railroad (1866), the North Carolina Railroad (1871), and the Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta Railroad (1878). Because its charter prohibited the acquisition of any but connecting lines, the Richmond and Danville created the Richmond and West Point Terminal Railway and Warehouse Company in 1880 to acquire properties not directly connected with it. The Richmond Terminal Company quickly gained control of hundreds of miles of completed railroads and franchises for prospective railroads such as the Georgia Pacific, which ran from Atlanta, Georgia, to Greenville, Mississippi.