Southern Railway Company
Southern Railway Company
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- Inventory on the way
Southern Railway Company
1960's and 1970's
American Bank Note Company
9 1/4" (w) by 13 1/2" (h)
Representative of the piece you will receive
The Southern Railway was the product of nearly 150 predecessor lines that were combined, reorganized and recombined beginning in the early 19th century, formally becoming the Southern Railway in 1894. It was combined with the Norfolk and Western Railway to form the Norfolk Southern Railway in 1982.
The pioneering South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company, Southern's earliest predecessor line and one of the first railroads in the United States, was chartered in December 1827 and ran the nation's first regularly scheduled steam powered passenger train – the wood-burning Best Friend of Charleston – over a six mile section out of Charleston, South Carolina. By 1833, its 136-mile line to Hamburg, South Carolina, was the longest in the world.
As railroad fever struck other Southern states, networks gradually spread across the South and even across the Allegheny Mountains. Charleston, South Carolina and Memphis, Tennessee, were linked by 1857, although rail expansion halted with the start of the Civil War. The Richmond and York River Railroad, which operated from the Pamunkey River at West Point, Virginia to Richmond, Virginia, was a major focus of George McClellan's 1862 Peninsular Campaign, which culminated in the Seven Days Battles and devastated the tiny rail link. The Richmond and Danville Railroad was the Confederacy's last link to Richmond, and transported Jefferson Davis and his cabinet to Danville, Virginia just before the fall of Richmond in April, 1865.
Known as the "First Railroad War," the Civil War left the South's railroads and economy devastated. Most of the railroads, however, were repaired, reorganized and operated again. In the area along the Ohio River and Mississippi River, construction of new railroads continued throughout Reconstruction. The Richmond and Danville System expanded throughout the South during this period, but was overextended, and came upon financial troubles in 1893, when control was lost to financier J.P. Morgan, who reorganized it at the Southern Railway System.
The Southern Railway, as it came into existence in 1894, was a combination of the Richmond and Danville system and the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad. The company owned two-thirds of the 4,400 miles of line it operated, and the rest was held through leases, operating agreements and stock ownership. Southern also controlled the Alabama Great Southern and the Georgia Southern and Florida, which operated separately, and it had an interest in the Central of Georgia.
The Southern's first president, Samuel Spencer, drew more lines into Southern's core system. During his 12-year term, the railway built new shops at Knoxville, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia and purchased more equipment. He moved the company's service away from an agricultural dependence on tobacco and cotton and centered its efforts on diversifying traffic and industrial development. Sadly, Spencer was killed in train wreck in 1906.
In 1912, the Southern Railway leased most of its Bluemont, Virginia, branch to the newly formed Washington and Old Dominion Railway. In 1945, the Southern sold most of the remnant of the branch to the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, the successor to the Washington and Old Dominion Railway.
The Central of Georgia became part of the system in 1963, and the former Norfolk Southern Railway was acquired in 1974. Despite these small acquisitions, the Southern disdained the merger trend when it swept the railroad industry in the 1960s, choosing to remain a regional carrier. In 1978, President L. Stanley Crane said the refusal to add routes through merger was a mistake, especially the decision not to add a connecting route to Chicago.
The Southern tried to gain access to Chicago by targeting the Monon Railroad and the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad but both those railroads went to Southern's competitor, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. A decade later Crane tried to rectify the situation by merging with the Illinois Central Railroad. When that failed, he petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission to give Southern the old Monon routes and the old Atlantic Coast Line route from Jacksonville to Tampa by way of Orlando among other properties as a condition of the I.C.C.'s approval of the Seaboard Coast Line – Chessie System merger in 1979. While the request was supported by the I.C.C.'s Enforcement Bureau, it was ultimately unsuccessful.
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