old ACL line between Washington, NC and Vandemere, NC

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What year did the ACL abandon trackage between Washington, NC and Vandemere, NC? And are there any reminders, remnants, etc of that line anymore related to the old ACL? Iknow that part of the line is owned and operated now by the NS and has been since the early to mid 60's. I am just wondering are there any old ACL remnants in place between Washington, NC and Vandemere. Thanks, Raymond Smith

-- Raymond Smith (wwf_shirley@hotmail.com), November 29, 2000


The station at Vandemere still exists as the office area of a small, what appears to contain construction materials, warehouse. I haven't had a chance to check out Aurora for a station or station site, but I'll try to get over there in the next few weeks.

CSX has two Greenville to Lee Creek jobs scheduled Monday through Saturday. F731 goes north (the NS NS-line is a north - south railroad) from Greenville about 7:00 AM and returns around 4:00 PM. F724 is scheduled north around 2:30 AM and back around 1:00 PM. I can't swear that F724 runs every scheduled day or only as needed. Some nights, if I'm sleeping light, I'll hear him go north. F731 does run every scheduled day and before NS changed the schedule on 349, F731 usually had to wait for 349 to clear south of Greenville before he could head north to Choco. NS 350 and 349 now operate through from Greensboro to Morehead City, doing work at Raleigh, Wilson, Choco and New Bern on a modified schedule and unless 349 is way late, he doesn't get in F31's way. The NS's stuff from Lee Creek gets handled out of Choco by 349 and 350. NS also has a job to Plymouth and one to New Bern operating out of Choco. They run Monday through Saturday. CSX also has a unit molten sulpher train from Greenville to Lee Creek on an irregular basis. It often shows up with the CP run through power on it. NS also runs a unit molten sulpher train as needed. Makes for nice variety here at MP NS143. Regards, Cliff

-- Clifford P. Kendall (cpkendall@aol.com), December 05, 2000.

Not necessarily a remnant from the Washington & Vandemere, the phos acid plant at Lee Creek had a whistle from one of RF&P's 4-8-4's-- IN SERVICE.

-- Harry Bundy (y6b@aol.com), December 05, 2000.

Snow is fun.... one can tell where the trains have been!!

-- Pete Wenk (petewenk@coastalnet.com), December 04, 2000.

I made weekly sales call on Texasgulf, now PCS Phosphate, for about 8 years. I stopped going there about 4 years ago. I belief the shared access is in 12 hour blocks. CSX usually got in the mill about mid- morning. I have been there late at night and seen NS there. Unit trains are sometimes run there by NS through Linwood. These were usually 6 axle consists. I could tell when one was coming because a 4 axle locomotive would be on the siding just outside of the mill gate. PCS would not allow 6 axle units on the yard because of tight turns.

PCS contracted track maintenance. David Greenway was (is) the foreman (owner?). He and his crew lived in Roanoke, Va and commuted weekly. They had a house in Aurora. They were constaintly busy with track maintenance.

It was not unusual to have a car on the ground. They occasionally pushed a car out the end of the yard, through the berm and almost into the Pamilco River.

While I was calling on PCS they scrapped their Alco switcher (B/N 75386 DOM 10/47). This unit had a steam loco bell on it.

Laurnburg and Southern did the switching for several years. When they lost the contract they scrapped one of there switchers also (it had journal bearings). The others went to the Coastal Carolina in Pinetown. One of these has been remaned and moved. Another is to be scrapped.

Snow report 10-12" and melting!

-- Tom Stallings (tlstalli@libertybay.com), December 04, 2000.

Went through there this morning after a 7-8" snowfall... the line had been traversed by 10 am, I assume by the CSX train that normally goes out there on Monday morning. The NS Marsland-New Bern line had also been used....the locomotove set was in Morehead City When I arrived there at 11:00 am. Actually the traffic that moves around Greenville, Lee Creek, Parmale and Farmville is interesting. Perhaps Tom Stallings, in the land of major snow, can shed some light. Glad I kept the speeder in the house this weekend!!

-- Pete Wenk (petewenk@nccoast.com), December 04, 2000.

When I was working out of Rocky Mount in the late 1970s I worked the Greenville-Lee Creek Switcher, based in Greenville, using the NS to Choco and the former ACL to Lee Creek. I learned that the ACL wanted to get rid of the line because it brought in little revenus except the potato trains and then there was the bridge at Little Washington to maintain. The [original] NS stepped up to the plate and leased/ purchased it from SCL, rebuilt it and used it. Bingo, the huge phosphate find at Lee Creek occurred and suddenly a tug-of-war ensued. By the time they finished, an agreement was reached to allow each road 50% of the business with the switching at Lee Creek shared on a 90-day rotating basis. I haven't worked freight in almost 15 years and a lot has changed, but I would imagine that there is still some shared arrangement for Lee Creek.

-- Doug Riddell (railroaddoug@erols.com), December 04, 2000.

Thanks for all of the input, thus far, on this line. As I have said before, this is a great (got to be the best) forum...one that many other railroad online sights could/should use as a model for the sharing of info.....Again, thanks, rs

-- Raymond Smith (wwf_shirley@hotmail.com), December 03, 2000.

Pete: Southern Rwy. was not an advocate of concrete cross ties. I don't know what criteria they used to determine replacement, but after the merger with NS, the concrete ties began to disappear. A note about their longevity-- one night in 1968, the "Phosphate Flyer" left Lee Creek with a box car equipped with friction bearing trucks. One of the wedges had become dislodged and dropped into the journal box. The car failed to negotiate the first curve south of the plant and one wheel derailed. The crew took no exception to the train until they were about to cross Whitehurst Creek. By that time the car had bounced along the ties and had snatched the pin holding the rail clip(the equivalent to a tie plate on conven- tional ties)through the prestressed concrete. Four hundred eighty two ties were demolished. You can't respike a concrete tie. The ties touted to have three times the life of a wood tie had lasted three years.

-- Harry Bundy (y6b@aol.com), December 03, 2000.

Does anyone know if the Aurora NC depot still exists? My last trip along the Vandemere line found a brick structure with a bay window, looking suspiciously like a truncated depot in the middle of town. Judging by it's placement and surroundings, it may have been some sort of weight station for trucks and not a railroad depot. These type buildings tend to contain similar design features and construction materials as railroad buildings, so it can get confusing at times. Thanks.

-- Bob Venditti (bobvend@bellsouth.net), December 02, 2000.

Just to add... I lookd it up in my 1933 Official Guide... At that time, there was one mixed train, daily except Sunday. It departed Vandemere at 8:00 am and arrived in Washington (41.0 miles) at 10:00. The return trip left Washington at 12:40 and arrived Vandemere at 3:00 pm. Station stops were Edward, Aurora, Toyall Cash Corner and Vandemere. BTW, It was Train No. 1 westbound and No. 2 eastbound. There were still a number of concrete ties in place the last time I looked. Looks like they're being replaced as needed. I wonder why they decided to do that?? Cheaper?

-- Pete Wenk (petewenk@nccoast.com), December 02, 2000.

There is no present CSX line to Auroroa, N.C. CSX attains phosphate traffic over trackage rights Greenville to Lee Creek on the former Norfolk Southern Railway. In constructing the Lee Creek Branch, NS used the former W&V alignment from Chocowinity Creek to Aurora, approximately 22.5 miles. When completed in 1965, it had the longest installation of concrete ties in the U.S.A., since replaced with wood ties.

-- Harry Bundy (y6b@aol.com), December 02, 2000.

Tom..I can not send this e-mail..please send it for me..Hugh Mr. Raymond Smith.. Tom Stallings ask me to respond to you with your request about the ACL. I am not sure when the line was abandoned but I feel the present CSX line to Aurora is part of the old ACL line to Vandemere. The line runs from Chocowinity to the phosphate mine at lee's creek on the Pamlico river. I can remember going to Vandemere with my father and seeing the rail line running along side the road. I think this was what they called the potato train. The old ACL Bridge over the Tar River in Washington was taken up around 1960.. Part of the right-of-way is now being used by the City of Washington to bring electricity into the City. I am sure you know that the old ACL Depot in Washington is still in use by the Art Council and is in very good repair. The large warehouse attached to the Depot is now the Washington Civic Center. A point of interest: The Washington/Vandemere railroad was started around 1905. The prime reason for this railroad was to move lumber and logs from south eastern Beaufort County. ACL had a station in Aurora and people could travel from Greenville to Washington on to Aurora. Aurora was the end of line until the line was extended to Vandemere. It is said that the tracks to Vandemere follow an old Indian trail and were taken up in the late 1940's.. I have not been much help but If I can do anything else for you please call. Hugh Sterling Jr. 2020 John Small ave. Washington, NC 27889

-- Tom Stallings (tlstalli@libertybay.com), December 01, 2000.

Not sure about the other depots (Aurora, Royal, etc) but the Vandemere depot still existed as of late 1990's. Not sure if this is still true after all these recent hurricanes. The ACL/W&V brick depot & warehouse still stand in "little" Washington.

-- Buddy Hill (palmettoLTD@hotmail.com), November 29, 2000.

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