ACL Washington, NC branch : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

I would like some information on the ACL's now-abandoned Washington, NC branch.

1) When exactly was the section from Washington to Vandemere abandoned? It seems to have been sometime between 1950 and 1954. 2) What was the type of traffic was carried on this section? 3) Was there interchange with the old NS? 4) When was the line from Parmele to Washington abandoned? 5) I would like to have a photocopy of a condensed profile from Parmele to Vandemere. Any suggestions of how to obtain one?

Thanks in advance for the anticipated assistance on this inquiry.

Ed Faggart Lincolnton, NC

-- Ed Faggart (, May 02, 2002


Ed: I'm going to try to put an ACL/SAL "spin" on this. ACL had an agent at Aurora. When NS restored the line, Marsden (later renamed Chocowinity) became governing agent for Aurora and Lee Creek, the only two stations on the branch. Marsden was renamed because all the mail addressed to NS Agent Marsden, NC was going to Marston, NC on the SAL. SAL's agent would readdress mail to Chocowinity.

In 1966, NS allowed me to keep my seniority and go to Lee Creek to help the TGS Traffic Department set up procedures for rail shipments. I drew a TGS pay check and was probably the only TGS employee that carried a union card. The pay was a little better and it sure beat 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM with Monday's and Tuesday's off.

Following are some sample shipments where ACL or SAL was included in the routing --

Phosphatic Fertilizer Solution in UTLX or company-owned (TGSX report marks) tank cars, 100-ton capacity routed NS-Charlotte-SAL to Rochelle, GA.

Granular superphosphate in 40' box cars routed NS-Wilson-ACL-RF&P to Ashland, VA (if routed NS-Norfolk-C&O-Doswell-RF&P, RF&P recvd. only $15 in revenue).

Most remembered shipment -- a 50-ton UTLX tank of fertilizer solution to Coatzoacoalcos, MEX routed NS-Charlotte-SAL-B'ham-L&N-SP-Alice- Tex Mex-Nuevo Laredo - NdeM. Union Tank Car had to give permission for the car to be sent to Mexico and the rate (as I recall) was over $30 a ton. About six months later, the car came back reverse route. I was called to the tank farm and the truck springs were fully compressed. Most "gringos" took the solution out of the tank car, mixed it with potash and spread it on crops, but the Mexicans put the potash in the tank car, it solidified, and they returned the car as empty and requested a refund. I often wonder if the car tonks ever noted the compressed truck springs.

-- Harry Bundy (, May 06, 2002.

Vic, You did a really great job the other Friday providing all of that information during the bus tour for the Rocky Mount meeting. In fact, no superalitve is too good. I hope you do find a drawing of the old branch. If so, please contact me off of the list so I can send a check for the photocopies.

Harry, What exactly did you do for the railroad while living in Aurora? Was there an agent or operator at Lee Creek? If so, what type stuff came in and in what type cars did the phosphate come out?

Does anyone know if, at present, is there any evidence of the old ACL trestle across the river there at Washington?

-- Ed Faggart (, May 05, 2002.

The former ACL depot is still standing in Vandemere. Unsure about the depot in Aurora.

-- Buddy Hill (, May 05, 2002.

Mr. Smith: Norfolk Southern built the Lee Creek Branch from the ground up. ACL had pulled up the tracks. At the time it was put in service, 1965, it was supposed to have been the longest installation of concrete cross ties. Texas Gulf Sulphur was anxious to get the feet for their dragline, which had been stored on depressed center flats at Choco- winity for about 6 months, and the first train (with the dragline parts) went to Aurora on every other tie. It did a real number on the NEW 100# rail.

Lived in Aurora for three years, but never bothered to take time to visit the old ACL depot there. Anyone know if it's still there ? The timbers of the old W&V Pamilco River trestle were still visible in the 60's. As far as I was concerned, Aurora was the last outpost of civilization, so I never went to Vandemere.

-- Harry Bundy (, May 04, 2002.

Harry: Did the trackage actually come up when ACL abandoned the line and then later did the old NS go in an relay rail on an abandoned ROW or did the line switch automatically from ACL to the former NS? This leads to the next question: I wonder if some remnants of the old ACL days can be found anywhere between the Chocowinity area and Aurora (and of course on to Vandemere; things such as old ACL MP's, Whistleposts, etc. Not very likely but you never know. Just curious.

Raymond Smith

-- Raymond Smith (, May 04, 2002.

Yes, the NS's Lee Creek Branch utilizes the former W&V right of way from Chocowinity Creek to the team track at Aurora, about 24 miles.

-- Harry Bundy (, May 04, 2002.

Doesn't the present NS line between Chocowinity and the PCS Phosphate operation (formerly Texas Gulf Sulfur)actually follow the former ACL ROW from a point just east of Chocowinity to as far or at least close to Aurora?


-- Raymond Smith (, May 04, 2002.

The interchange between the Washington & Vandermere and Norfolk Southern was at Porter Junction, the crossing located between Washington and Chocowinity. According to the NS timetable, the interchange had a capacity of seven cars.

-- Harry Bundy (, May 03, 2002.

Ed, The part from Washington to Vandermere was abandoned right after they quit running the mixed passenger train around mid 1954.To answer your second question,a little bit of cement and a whole lot of potatoes and watermelon.I was told at one time they hauled enough watermelon out of there,that by today's standards it would be a unit train!I'm not sure if they maintained a interchange with the NS or not.The rest of the line was abandoned around 1984-1986 during the "slaught of our little railroad"years.CSX left about 2000 ft in there at parmele to use as storage and a minor derailment there finally got it all gone in 1997.I believe I might have a copy of the track profile on that Line.I'll look around and get up with you on that.

-- V.L.Lewis (, May 03, 2002.

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