Southeastern Narrow Gauge & Shortline Museum
What is Narrow Gauge ?
Modern railroad systems in the United States use what is commonly called "Standard Gauge," or rather, a distance of 4 feet 8.5 inches between the rails. This standard evolved from early British railroad equipment and locomotives which were imported during the infancy of the American railroad industry.
Technically speaking, "Narrow Gauge" is a distance of anything less than the "Standard Gauge" between the rails. By far, the most common narrow gauge was 3 feet, though others existed at 24, 30, 40, and 42 inches.
The narrow gauge movement was born in the 1870's, with a prevailing thought (highly simplified) that the equipment was smaller, the tracks were smaller, curves could be tighter and therefore construction grading was cheaper. In short, it theoretically cost less to build a narrow gauge railroad than standard gauge one.
By the early 1900's, most successful narrow gauge lines had been widened due to economies of scale, or were defunct as companies were prone to do. By the 1940's, most narrow gauge lines across the south were completely gone.
This is "dual gauge" track, or rather, a track that can handle either standard or narrow gauge trains. This photo was taken circa 1910 at the northern end of the Carolina & North-Western Railway.
The diminuitive size of a narrow gauge boxcar comparted to a standard gauge car is easily seen by this photograph of cars from the Lawndale Railway and its standard gauge brethren.
Financial information about this organization and a copy of its license are available from the State Solicitation Licensing Branch at 919 807 2214. The license is not an endorsement by the State.