The Tarheel Press
The Elkin & Alleghany Railway Revisited
With the completion of the Northwestern North Carolina Railroad to North Wilkesboro in 1890, a central railroad had finally been completed to a region that had long been neglected in terms of transportation and economic development.
This railroad, later operated by the Southern Railway, spurred other efforts by smaller lines to tap into this trunk and go further into the North Carolina mountains in order to tap virgin forests and other railroads that connected to the coal fields of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. The Elkin & Alleghany was a major player among these efforts, with plans to build from Elkin, over the mountains at Roaring Gap, and finally to Sparta, NC. From there, a short distance was needed to connect to the Norfolk & Western, and all of the promises such a connection offered.
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From 1908 to 1911, the Elkin & Alleghany was built primarily with convict labor, as was its neighboring shortline railroad, the Watauga & Yadkin River Railway, which terminated at Wilkesboro. The state of North Carolina was paid by the railroad not in cash, but in stock. The E&A was among the last railroads in the US built using prison labor.
- 74 pp 11" x 8.5"
- Coated Softbound Cover
- 75 detailed illustrations, photos and maps
- Nearly two dozen personal accounts
- Horizontal format for stunning photo reproduction
- Chapters include details on:
- Northwestern NC Railroad construction
- Early efforts to build the E&A
- Convict construction of the railroad
- Operations of the railroad
- Final Struggles
- The railway's everlasting legacy
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While convicts did the heavy grading, a construction company was contracted to build the actual trackwork. The book is full of rare photos like this one detailing the construction and operation of the railroad.
July 4th, 1911 marked the "Grand Opening" of the railroad. Excursions were run for 1 mile and back. By the end of the year, the line stretched twelve miles to Thurmond, NC.
Over the next two decades, the railroad operated a hard-knock life. The line eventually expanded to Doughton, NC, with grading taking place to the foot of the Blue Ridge, only to end up unable to conquer Roaring Gap. By the 1930's the railroad had slipped into the memory of the ages. Nevertheless, the legacy of the Elkin & Alleghany remains powerful, even to this day. This book is a tribute to the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of those who built it, operated it, and simply fell in love with it.
Original Text By Dan Bray, Jr- "The Elkin & Alleghany Railway"
Additions & Edits by Matt Bumgarner
A Project of the Elkin Valley Trails Association.