Abandoned Rails


 

Seaboard Air Line - The "S-Line"

Petersburg, VA to Norlina, NC

 

 

Many railfans, railroaders, and historians will argue that one of the biggest mistakes CSX ever made (in Virginia) was abandoning the former Seaboard Air Line (SAL) mainline between South Collier, VA and Norlina, NC.  Regardless of one's opinion, the line is no more.  The SAL was the arch rival of the Atlantic Coast Line (ACL) and the two companies both made their northern terminus in Richmond.  The SAL was actually headquartered in Richmond for a number of years with their corporate offices being located adjacent to joint RF&P/ACL trackage.   

Almost immediately following the 1967 merger with the ACL, the segment from Centralia to Petersburg was abandoned in favor of using the existing ACL mainline (A-Line).  In 1987 CSX finally pulled the plug on the Norlina Subdivision and the tracks were removed.  Coincidentally, the signals that once protected the S-Line were sent to Savannah, GA for refurbishment and are now serving faithfully on the North End Subdivision between Richmond and Rocky Mount, NC. 

  • The last scheduled passenger train was Amtrak 81 which ran on Sunday, October 26, 1986.

  • The last non-passenger train to run over the Norlina Subdivision was a northbound work train consisting of one engine and ten cars.  It departed Raleigh at 10:30 PM on December 31, 1986 and arrived in Petersburg at approximately 1:00 AM on January 1, 1987. 

  • The last official train operated over the line was a rail train in March 1987.

Thanks to the generous contributions from Steve Hammer, Herman Wilkins, Walt Gay, and Jeff Allgood, I am able to feature the S-Line in in the "Abandoned Rails" section of the website.   It should be noted that most of the views seen below are not possible anymore due to extensive overgrowth.  For additional photos of the modern day Norlina Subdivision, click here

If you would like to contribute material, please e-mail me

 

Appomattox River Bridge - S22.0

The ominous SAL Bridge over the Appomattox River in Petersburg is being dismantled in this 1983 photo.  The large concrete piers still stand to this day.

Photo by Herman Wilkins - 1983

 

 


 

 

Burgess

This photo is believed to be looking north at Burgess from what used to be the Quaker Road grade crossing.  Barely visible in the distance are the Interstate 85 bridges. 

Photo by Walt Gay - 1987

 

 


North of Dinwiddie - S34.0

Oops!  SCL caboose No. 0950 from train 289 has overturned at milepost S34 during a derailment in 1984.

Photo by Herman Wilkins - 1984

 

 


Dinwiddie - S37.5

The beginning of the end.  CSX crews begin the process of ripping up the rails through Dinwiddie.  From here on out, only memories will remain of trains traversing this line.

Photo by Herman Wilkins - 1987

 

 


Dewitt - S41.8

Just prior to abandonment, SCL GP38-2 No. 2546 is seen passing through DeWitt to pick up the last few cars at McKenney.

Photo by Herman Wilkins - 1987

 

 


 

 

 

Georgia Pacific Chip Mill

 

This wood chip mill was located a few miles north of McKenney along US Route 1.  Author and historian Bill Griffin recounts this as being the only active shipper between South Collier and McKenney at the time CSX abandoned the Norlina Subdivision.

 

Photo by Walt Gay - Date Unknown

 

 


 

 

 

 

McKenney - S

 

View of the structure after abandonment.

 

Photo by Walt Gay - Date Unknown

 

 


Alberta - S61.1

In this view looking south, you can clearly see where the Virginian spanned the Seaboard mainline.  Note the old station off to the right that was featured in the previous photo.

Photo by Steve Hammer - July 1991

 

 


Alberta Station - S61.1

Jeff Allgood shot this photo of the "station" in Alberta just one year prior to the line's abandonment.  This structure still stands today.  Note the bridge in the top left corner of the photo that carries the former Virginian over the Seaboard.  The last official train thru the Town of Alberta was operated by Norfolk Southern on April 22, 1988.

Photo by Jeff Allgood - 1986


 

Alberta - S61.1

The fall colors are at peak in this photo looking south, just south of the crossing.  It has now been 5 years since the tracks were taken up and the right-of-way is surprisingly still somewhat clear.

Photo by Photo by Steve Hammer - October 1992

 

 


Alberta Oil House - S61.1

The old oil house in Alberta stands amongst the rapidly growing weeds. 

Photo by Steve Hammer - October 1992


Alberta - S61.1

Another building located in Alberta.

Photo by Steve Hammer - October 1992

 

 


Alberta - S61.1

Yet another structure from Alberta.

Photo by Steve Hammer - October 1992

 

 

 


LaCrosse - S79.0

Another town that once hosted two railroads is LaCrosse.  In addition to the Seaboard, the Norfolk, Franklin & Danville ran east/west through town crossing the S-Line on a diamond that was located just in the middle of the photo.  The brick structure no longer stands.  This view is looking north and US Route 58 is barely visible in the center of the photo on the dirt fill.  

Photo by Steve Hammer - June 1992

 

 


LaCrosse - S79.0

The oil house along with another building in LaCrosse.  Both structures have since been demolished. 

 

Photo by Steve Hammer - June 1992

 

 


LaCrosse - S79.0

Steve Hammer provides this view of the SCL "station" that served LaCrosse in the later years of the line.  The right-of-way is located on the very left edge of the photo and follows the pole line in the distance.  While the code line poles are gone, the building remains. 

 

Photo by Steve Hammer  - June 1992

 

 


Bracey - S83.7

 

Looking north from what used to be the Bracey Drive grade crossing.

 

Photo by Jeff Hawkins - February 18, 2004

 

 


 

 

 

Bracey - S83.7

 

The old depot in Bracey is now privately owned and still looks respectable in this modern view.

 

Photo by Jeff Hawkins - 2002

 

 


Bracey - S83.7

 

This photo shows how the depot appeared in April 2008.  Note that the "BRACEY, VA" sign on the end of the building is now gone.  I don't know if this was removed by the owners or if someone stole it.

 

Photo by Jeff Hawkins - April 2008

 

 


Bracey - S83.7

Looking south from what used to be the Bracey Drive grade crossing.  The depot is visible through the trees in the left of the photo.

 

Photo by Jeff Hawkins - February 18, 2004

 

 


Bracey - S83.7

 

The view looking south from the Highway 903 overpass towards Lake Gaston in April 2008.

 

Photo by Jeff Hawkins - April 2008

 

 


Bracey - S83.7

 

The view looking north from the Highway 903 overpass in April 2008.  This deep cut was known as the "Grand Canyon of the East" by Seaboard crews and railfans alike.  The northbound grade was a stiff one as the line rose in elevation as it left Lake Gaston. 

 

Photo by Jeff Hawkins - April 2008

 

 


Lake Gaston Bridge - S86

 

This photo was taken from Interstate 85 and shows the Seaboard's bridge that spanned Lake Gaston. 

 

Photo by Jeff Hawkins - April 2008

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2002- | Jeff Hawkins

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