acl rr branch line ballast : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

Most former ACL branch lines (I know in NC, maybe system wide) had an orange type, somewhat fine ballast on their roadbeds. It was also easy to find some failry good sized pieces of petrified wood in this ballast. Was this a ballast that was used system wide and either way, where was the source of this ballast and when was it first used on the roadbeds. I know for fact that the old New Bern Sub, Fayetteville Sub, Clinton Sub, along with some others had this type of ballast.

Thanks, David R. Smith, Jr. Pollocksville, NC (ACB317)

-- david r. smith, jr. (, April 04, 1999


The ACL branchlines in central Florida (at least in the 1960's) appeared to me to have all been balasted with white stone (crushed limestone?). This had a reputation of "turning to mush" during the summer rainy season. Some of this can still be seen in some areas of lines now operated as short lines. I have vague memories of the ACL mainline through Orlando having this look, although this ballast tended to have a rusty tone due to the cast iron brake shoes of that era, as heavy brake applications at grade crossings caused microscopic iron particles from the shoes to be deposited on the ballast. The granite ballast came later to the ACL mainline in this area. This white ballast made it easy for a young railfan to identify an unknown branchline on a Sunday afternoon drive, as the SAL branches used gray stone ballast, probably granite. I hope this helps fill in some information gaps.

-- David E. Peterson (, May 06, 2003.

Most all of the ballast that was used on the northern end of the old ACL came from a vane of rock that ran parallel to the main line and was mined at Trego, VA (MP A68), Garysburg, NC (MP A80), and just west of Rocky Mount, NC (visible from Highway 301) on the Spring Hope Branch (now the Nash County RR). The Trego operation is still very much in operation and supplies rock that supports a dedicated train to Portsmout, VA, as well as ballast for CSX, while the Nash County and Garysburg sites have been dormant for at least 20 years. By the way, CSX has recently initiated another dedicated rock train from Hamlet to Greystone, NC on the old S-Line.

-- Doug Riddell (, April 06, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ