Bridge over Lake Gaston or Roanoke Rapids Lake : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

As a child in the Boy Scouts (mid 1960s), we would have District Camporees on Lake Gaston or Roanoke Rapids Lake. I forget which, but I think it was in the Thelma, NC area. I remember an old set or line of railroad bridge piers (stone) that streached across the lake (river). I suspect that they may have been the old Raleigh/Gaston RR crossing to Old Gaston, but I don't know. Can anyone help me here and help me locate them again?

-- Frank Harris (, June 21, 2002


Tom and Wes,

This is more than I expected and great info. I am now off to the hunt to photograph them. I was unaware of and have had a great time with it, very usefull for old right-of-ways.

Thanks guys,


-- Frank Harris (, June 27, 2002.

The railroad bridge over the Roanoke River at Gaston, NC, was built by the Raleigh & Gaston RR. The first portion of this line opened in 1838 from Gaston,across the bridge, southwest to Littleton. Completion to Raleigh was in 1840. After going through a reorganization in 1851 using the same operating name, the R&G built a connection from South Gaston(south end of bridge)east to Weldon, NC, for a connection to the Seaboard & Roanoke RR to Portsmouth, VA. The 1,040ft long bridge was destroyed by CSA troops in March 1865, in the last few weeks of the war. It was never rebuilt. Gaston was also connected to the north via a rail line of the Petersburg RR. Constructed by the Greensville & Roanoke RR, the PRR operated the line as a branch from Hicksford Junction, VA, 3 miles south of Emporia, VA(called Belfield in the 1860's), from its opening in 1837. The G&R was merged into the PRR in 1855 and the branch was abandoned in 1874. The R&G and S&R both later became SAL, while the Petersburg RR became the mainline of the ACL.

-- Tom Underwood (, June 22, 2002.


I too was in the Boy Scouts in the mid-60s, and went camping there as well (from Roanoke Rapids). I remember those piers and believe they were indeed part of the old Raleigh-Gaston RR. If you look at a 1:24,000 topo map (go to and look up the Thelma, NC area), you can see where the old RR crossed the Roanoke River (this was about 100 years before Lake Gaston was created.

From what I have read and heard, the town of Gaston in those days was several miles west of the present Gaston, and I believe that the original bridge was destroyed in the Civil War.

Wes Woodruff Orlando, FL

-- Wes Woodruff (, June 21, 2002.

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