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Winston-Salem Southbound Railway

by John Sullivan, 2013.

A map of the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway from the company's promotional notepads. Image courtesy of John Sullivan.Originally chartered in 1894, the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway from Winston-Salem to Wadesboro was not completed until 1910. The railroad was the idea of Francis Henry Fries, and was backed from the beginning by its parent railroads the Norfolk & Western and the Atlantic Coast Line. Originally it was a short cut for N&W coal headed to Charleston, S.C. via the ACL connection at Wadesboro for the U.S. Navy, as well as providing access to the port for northbound goods. The railroad served the Yadkin Valley area and grew with it.

About 1957, the railroad switched from steam to diesel engines. Initially the railroad had four EMD GP-9s. They were only on the line a short time before they decided instead to lease engines from the N&W and ACL as needed; two GP-9s went to each of the parent railroads. The Southbound got control of the High Point, Thomasville, & Denton Railroad in 1960; they connect in High Rock. In the 1960s the HPT&D was still using GE 70 ton switchers for engines; eventually they adopted the same practice as the Southbound. The Southbound has one train each way between Winston-Salem and Wadesboro, number 209 south and 212 north. During the Seaboard Coast Line days (a product of the Seaboard Air Line and ACL merger) the old ACL line from Wadesboro to Florence was abandoned and a new connection was built east of downtown Wadesboro.

Today the Southbound crew turns the train over to a CSX crew at the W-S Junction; that train runs to Hamlet and back as a local with the same train number both ways. Meanwhile, the Southbound crew goes to a motel for 8 hours, and then takes the CSX train from Hamlet north to Winston-Salem. Several customers ship and/or receive by rail on both the WSS and HPT&D. Corn Products in Winston-Salem receives unit trains of corn to process into corn syrup; some is shipped out in tank cars. The Schlitz brewery in Winston-Salem was a big customer until the new owner, Strohs, decided it didn't need the capacity. Other customers include a chemical plant near Denton, a Lowe's Wood Products yard between Denton and High Point, an Owens-Illinois plant just north of Lexington, and several others. Even with parents that are albeit competitors, the Southbound continues to operate as usual.

Additional Resources:

O'Donnell, Lisa. "LONG TRIP: RAILROAD TURNS 100 TODAY Southbound Railway filled important role in putting Winston-Salem on the map." Winston-Salem Journal. November 24, 2010.

"Norfolk and Western Operates Three Lines Into  N. Carolina" The E.S.C. Quarterly  11, no. 3-4 (Summer-Fall 1953). 142-144.

North Carolina General Assembly. "An act to incorporate the Winston-Salem Railway Company." Private laws of the state of North Carolina passed by the General Assembly at its session of 1895." Winston [N.C.]:  M.I. & J.C. Stewart, Public Printers and Binders. 1895. 503-509.

" Winston-Salem Southbound Railway."  Railway Association of North Carolina.

Forsyth County Historic Resources Commission. "Winston-Salem Southbound Railway Freight Warehouse and Office." Local Historic Landmark Program. 1991? 

Image Credits:

Winston-Salem Southbound Railway Corporation. [Winston-Salem Southbound Railway map]. Drawing. Image courtesy of John Sullivan.

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