Atlantic Coast Line Railroad

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Railway transport

Atlantic Coast Line Railroad
Reporting marks ACL
Locale United States Atlantic Coast
Dates of operation 1840 – July 1, 1967
Successor line Seaboard Coast Line
Track gauge ft 8½  in (1435  mm) ( standard gauge)
Headquarters Jacksonville, FL
There is also an Atlantic Coast Line in Cornwall, England.

The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad ( AAR reporting mark ACL) was an American railroad that existed between 1898 and July 1, 1967, when it merged with the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, its long-time rival, to form the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad. The company was headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida ( Wilmington, North Carolina before 1961). After several more mergers and consolidations, the former ACL is now part of CSX Transportation, also headquartered in Jacksonville.


1914 map
1914 map

The Atlantic Coast Line Company was organized on May 29, 1889 as a holding company for a system of railroads from Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia south and southwest to Augusta, Georgia.

North Carolina

The Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad was chartered in 1835, opening in 1840 from Wilmington, North Carolina north to Weldon, where the Petersburg Railroad continued to Petersburg, Virginia. The name was changed in 1855 to the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad.

The Wilmington and Manchester Railroad was chartered in 1846 and opened in 1853 from Wilmington west to Camden Crossing, South Carolina on the South Carolina Railroad's branch to Camden. After the American Civil War, the company was reorganized in 1870 as the Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta Railroad, opening an extension west to Columbia in 1873 but never reaching Augusta, Georgia.

In 1872 the Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta Railroad leased the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, forming a continuous line through Wilmington, which was advertised as the Atlantic Coast Line. That lease was cancelled in 1878 due to the Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta's bankruptcy; that company was sold in 1879 and reorganized in 1880 under the same name.

Over the years, the Wilmington and Weldon bought many other lines. Most notable among those was the Wilson and Fayetteville Railroad, built as a cutoff from near Wilson to the Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta at Pee Dee, South Carolina. This was chartered in South Carolina as the Florence Railroad.

South Carolina

1885 map, when it was a loose system of affiliated lines
1885 map, when it was a loose system of affiliated lines

The Northeastern Railroad was chartered in 1851 and opened in 1856 from Charleston north to the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad at Florence. The Central Railroad, connecting this line at Lane northwest to the Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta Railroad at Sumter, was chartered in 1881 and opened in 1882. From opening it was leased by both railroads in connected to.

The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad of South Carolina was formed on July 18, 1898 as a consolidation of the Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta Railroad and Northeastern Railroad with several other lines:

  • The Florence Railroad was chartered in 1882, continuing the Wilson and Fayetteville Railroad from the North Carolina state line south-southwest to the Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta at Pee Dee. This was part of a shorter route avoiding Wilmington, North Carolina.
  • The Cheraw and Darlington Railroad was chartered in 1849 and opened in 1853, running from Florence north via Darlington to Cheraw. The Cheraw and Darlington acquired the Cheraw and Salisbury Railroad, an extension north to Wadesboro, North Carolina, in 1892.
  • The Manchester and Augusta Railroad was chartered in 1875, and built a line from Sumter southwest to Denmark. On June 30, 1899, the ACL opened a continuation west-southwest to the Charleston and Western Carolina Railway at Robbins.

The Central Railroad stayed separate, leased but not merged.

Also involved in this was the Charleston, Sumter and Northern Railroad, a failed plan to build a main line from Charleston through Sumter into North Carolina. That company went bankrupt in 1892, and the bridge over the Santee River burned down. In 1895 the ACL bought and reorganized it as the Charleston and Northern Railroad to prevent it from being used by a competitor. The short Wilson and Summerton Railroad acquired a section south of Sumter, the Manchester and Augusta Railroad obtained the southernmost section (cut from the rest by the burned bridge) and the line from Sumter northeast to Darlington, extending the M&A's line to Darlington, and the Cheraw and Darlington Railroad was assigned the rest of the line, from Darlington north to Gibson, North Carolina. All but the Wilson and Summerton became part of the ACL in 1898. That company was renamed to the Northwestern Railroad in 1899, and with help from the ACL built an extension northwest from Sumter to Camden, opened in 1901.

In August 1899 the ACL acquired a half interest in the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company, fully owned by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad since 1898. This gave the ACL access to Atlanta and Macon, Georgia via the former Manchester and Augusta Railroad and the Georgia Railroad.

By 1899 the ACL also owned the Charleston and Western Carolina Railway, running from Port Royal, South Carolina at the south orner of the state northwest into the northwest part of the state, with lines ending at Anderson, Greenville and Spartanburg.


The Petersburg Railroad was chartered in 1830 and opened in 1833, running from Petersburg, Virginia south to Garysburg, North Carolina, from which it ran to Weldon via trackage rights over the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad (later eliminated with a new alignment). The Richmond and Petersburg Railroad was chartered in 1836 and opened in 1838, continuing north from Petersburg to Richmond.

In March 1898, the Petersburg Railroad was merged into the Richmond and Petersburg, which was renamed to the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad of Virginia on November 21.

The Norfolk and Carolina Railroad was chartered in 1887 as the Chowan and Southern Railroad and renamed in 1889, opening in 1890 as a connection from the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad's branch to Tarboro, North Carolina northeast to Pinner's Point, Virginia, serving the Hampton Roads area.

Florida and Georgia

The Plant System was a system of railroads and steamboats in the U.S. South, founded by Florida's west coast developer Henry B. Plant. After his death in 1899, the Plant system was taken over by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in 1902. The original line of the system, named after its owner, Henry Plant, was the Savannah, Florida and Western Railway, running across southern Georgia.

forming the ACL by mergers and later history

1914 map of the lines through Florida
1914 map of the lines through Florida

The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad was formed on April 21, 1900 as a merger of the two companies in Virginia and South Carolina, as well as the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad and Norfolk and Carolina Railroad.

In 1902 the ACL acquired the massive Plant System, stretching from Charleston, South Carolina southwest via Savannah, Georgia to Waycross, with lines branching out from there to Albany, Georgia, Montgomery, Alabama, and many points in Florida (including the main line to Tampa). The Jacksonville and Southwestern Railroad was bought July 28, 1904, running from Jacksonville, Florida southwest to Newberry. Around this time, the ACL built a new line from High Springs south to Juliette, Florida, connecting two Plant System lines and forming a shortcut around Gainesville down the west side of Florida.

The ACL bought the large Louisville and Nashville Railroad system on November 1, 1902, but kept operations separate for its entire life.

A short branch from Climax, Georgia south to Amsterdam opened in 1903.

The ACL bought the Conway Coast and Western Railroad on July 1, 1912, giving it access to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

On October 15, 1913, the ACL acquired the Sanford and Everglades Railroad, a short line near Sanford, Florida.

The Florida Central Railroad, bought February 27, 1915, provided a spur to Fanlew, Florida.

In July 1922 the ACL acquired the Rockingham Railroad, extending the former Charleston, Sumter and Northern Railroad from Gibson, North Carolina to Rockingham.

Also in 1922 the ACL leased the Virginia and Carolina Southern Railroad, running from Fayetteville, North Carolina south to Lumberton with a spur to Elizabethtown.

The ACL acquired the Moore Haven and Clewiston Railway on July 1, 1925, and the Deep Lake Railroad, a short line from the Gulf of Mexico port of Everglades City north to Deep Lake, Florida, on December 8, 1928. These formed short parts of a new line from the main line at Haines City south to Everglades City, with a branch to Lake Harbour on Lake Okeechobee via Moore Haven and Clewiston.

Also in 1925, the ACL leased the Fort Myers Southern Railroad, which continued the line of the Florida Southern Railroad south from Fort Myers to Marco. That same year, the Tampa Southern Railroad was leased, running from Uceta Yard in eastern Tampa south via Sarasota to the Florida Southern at Fort Ogden.

In 1926 the ACL acquired the Columbia, Newberry and Laurens Railroad, running from the end of the old Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta Railroad at Columbia, South Carolina northwest to Laurens.

The ACL incorporated the Atlanta, Birmingham and Coast Railroad on November 22, 1926 as a reorganization of the Atlantic, Birmingham and Atlantic Railway. This gave the ACL lines from Waycross to Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama, with a branch east to Brunswick

On May 1, 1927 the ACL leased the Washington and Vandemere Railroad, extending the old Wilmington and Weldon Railroad branch to Washington southeast to Vandemere.

In 1928 the Perry Cutoff was finished, providing a new shortcut from Thomasville, Georgia via Perry, Florida to Dunnellon, Florida, with a branch to Newberry, Florida. Additionally, the old Tampa and Thonotosassa Railroad line was extended northeast from Thonotosassa to Vitis, providing a shortcut between Tampa and the newly-important west Florida line.

The ACL acquired the East Carolina Railway at some point, running south from Tarboro to Hookerton.

Seaboard Coast Line, CSX Transportation

On July 1, 1967 the ACL merged with the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, its longtime rival, to form the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad.

CSX Transportation was formed on July 1, 1986 as a renaming of the Seaboard System Railroad, which had absorbed the former Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, Louisville and Nashville Railroad and Seaboard Air Line Railroad, as well as several smaller subsidiaries. On August 31, 1987 the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, which had absorbed the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad April 30 of that year, merged into CSX. The merger had been started in 1980 with the merger of Chessie System and Seaboard Coast Line Industries to form the CSX Corporation.

Station listing

For stations on the main line (now CSX's "A" line), see the following articles:

  • Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, Richmond, Virginia to Petersburg, Virginia
  • Petersburg Railroad, Petersburg to Weldon, North Carolina
  • Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, Weldon to Wilson, North Carolina
  • Wilson and Fayetteville Railroad, Wilson to North Carolina/South Carolina state line
  • Florence Railroad, state line to Pee Dee, South Carolina
  • Wilmington and Manchester Railroad, Pee Dee to Florence, South Carolina
  • Northeastern Railroad, Florence to Charleston, South Carolina
  • Plant System railroads:
    • Ashley River Railroad, around Charleston
    • Charleston and Savannah Railroad, Charleston to Savannah, Georgia
    • Atlantic and Gulf Railroad, Savannah to Jesup, Georgia
    • Folkston Cutoff, Jesup to Folkston, Georgia
    • Waycross and Florida Railroad, Folkston to Georgia/Florida state line
    • East Florida Railroad, state line to Jacksonville, Florida
    • Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railway, Jacksonville to Sanford, Florida
    • South Florida Railroad, Sanford to Tampa, Florida

Retrieved from ""