The Lawndale Railway &
                                 Industrial Company

     On November 11, 1899, the first regular train of the Lawndale Railway & Industrial Company ran on newly-laid tracks from Lawndale to Shelby, North Carolina. The dreams of Major Henry Franklin Shenck (pictured at right) had finally been realized.
     As a pioneer of North Carolina's booming textile industry in the late nineteenth century, Schenck had come to realize that the poor roads and the isolation of his mills were the largest impediment to the growth of his company.  After waiting well over a decade for the Southern & Western Air Line to build from Shelby to Morganton to Cranberry,  Schenck finally gave up on waiting for others to build him a line. He wrote to friends about his frustration of "being stuck in the mud" and the worn-out horse teams that he was relying on to haul materials to and from the Seaboard Air Line and Southern Railway in Shelby, almost ten miles away.

     Consequently, Schenck decided to build his own railroad, a private concern that would serve only his mill in Lawndale. At the close of the 1800's, much secondhand narrow gauge equipment came on the market, as the slim-rails boom that had gripped the country since the 1870's was dying away fast. As a result, the Major was able to buy a fair number of freight cars for rock-bottom prices. Additionally, with a gauge (width) smaller than that of the connecting railroads in Shelby, his cars could not interchange and would remain on their home tracks, much to the Major's satisfaction.

Many of the Lawndale's freight cars came from the Carolina & North-Western Railway, which at one time was the largest narrow gauge in either of the
Carolinas.

    Though the Lawndale started out as a private concern, the "dummy line" as it was nicknamed due to its diminutive size, was an immediate hit with the communities that it served.
     Within six months of beginning operations, Schenck wrote that he had "been so constantly annoyed with applications to pass over [my] little road from here to Shelby that I cannot resist the demands of the people to haul themů"
     As a result, the railroad was upgraded to common-carrier status, and the railroad became a fixture in North Carolina for over the next four decades.

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Number 5, a Vulcan locomotive, sits inside the Cleveland Cotton Mills complex in the early 1940s. There aren't many summers left for the railroad at this point in time.