ACL Wilmington-Jacksonville NC passenger service : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

When did ACL terminate passenger traffic on its Wilmington-Jacksonville NC line? I'm guessing it was pre-WW2 but not sure how far back. Also, was it served by a mixed train in its final days? Thanks for all replies.

-- Bob Venditti (, June 29, 2003


These were Azalea Festival specials. They ran to New Bern the day before, loaded at New Bern the next morning and stopped at each location all the way to Wilmington, returning that night. Both times, I loaded at Pollocksville. I was born in 1953, but I recall riding the train on two different years; 1959 and 1960. My understanding is that each ACL line into Wilmington at the time had one of these specials.

-- Raymond Smith (, August 30, 2003.

I have had two people tell me of riding a passenger train from New Bern to Wilmington in the 60's, both from people who would have been young at the time. The latest was Monday (7/8) when a fellow told me that he rode the last passenger train out of New Bern with his grandfather at the age of about five, around 1962. He said is was a long train pulled by diesel power. I wonder if there was a railfan trip sometime in the early 60's. Anyone have memory of that?

-- Pete Wenk (, July 08, 2003.

About the Trent River bridge located at Newbern, N.C. I have an 8 X 10 color photo of that bridge made from the top of the Sheraton Hotel in Newbern as the sun is rising behind it in an early morning view. That bridge was constructed originally by the old Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad which was operated for years under lease to the original Norfolk Southern Railroad until it defaulted on lease payments during the depression 30's. The road was reorganized as the Atlantic & East Carolina Railway under lease to Southern Railway, and eventually the Norfolk Southern of today. The Navigable Waterways Act passed in the 19th Century by the state of North Carolina dictated a minimum clearance for boats passing beneath the bridge, or some means provided to seperate the bridge. The history of the A&NC bridge over the Neuse River near Kinston even has a history of ship captains shooting it out with railroad workers demanding that the bridge accomodate vessels. The Trent River bridge at Newbern shared a similar experience with the Norfolk Southern Pamlico River bridge at Washington, N.C. Pleasure craft constitute most of the river traffic at both bridges today.From the time both drawspans were constructed, 1907 in the case of the Pamlico River bridge, they both were manually opened and closed by the drawtender. A couple of years ago at Washington, the Norfolk Southern C&S forces ran a 220 volt AC line out to the drawspan. The normal position for the bridge today is open for river traffic at all times. When the daily train from Chocowinity to Plymouth approaches the bridge, the train stops short of the red signal indication, the crew closes the draw, pulling the train through the draw stopping on the other side to re-open the drawspan and re-set the signals to the stop position. I can only assume that the same provision has been made at Newbern for the Trent River bridge.Just in passing I might mention that the 5.03 mile long Albemarle Sound railroad bridge had two channels, one served by a lift-type span, and the other by a regular drawspan, which required the services of two bridgetenders 24 hours a day. That bridge was abandoned and dismantled in 1987 by the Norfolk Southern as too costly to maintain. Trackage beyond Edenton to Norfolk was sold off to the Chesapeake & Albemarle Railroad who operate that segment today.

-- Bill Sellers (, July 06, 2003.

Here's a slight refinement to Tom Underwood's good information. The last ACL passenger timetable listing service on the line is dated June 15, 1938, at which time mixed train 423 ran Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, leaving New Bern at 8:15 a.m. and arriving Wilmington 2:20 p.m. On Monday, Wed., and Fri., mixed 422 left Wilmington at 8:25 a.m. and arrived New Bern 1:50 p.m. In the next timetable issue, August 10, 1938, the line is listed as "Freight and Express Service only."

-- Larry Goolsby (, July 06, 2003.

Hey Ed,

I don't have a lead on track charts, but you might want to try contacting the USDA in Salt Lake City for vintage aerial photographs. I have several of their products from the 1950s and they're really good sources of information. The prices are pretty reasonable too.

I also don't have any information on the little obscure bridges, but I did find it interesting when researching the EC article for Lines that many of the little rivers in the SC Lowcountry were used extensively for lumber, cargo and passenger transport. By the end WWII, many of the little moveable bridges on the EC were straight- railed. Maybe ACL, SCL, CSX or whoever just has never gotten around to rebuilding the bridges in your location.

Hope ths helps! John Golden O'Fallon, IL

-- John Golden (, July 06, 2003.

I have two related questions. First, I have long been interested in knowing the track layout of New Bern during its peak, which I assume would have been in the 30's, 40's, or 50's. Where could I obtain a detailed map of the city showing all railroad trackage (ACL, NS, A&EC) and what date would be best? Second, south of New Bern near Pollocksville there was a lift or draw bridge over, as I recall, the Trent River. The river did not appear very big to me at that location. Why was a draw necessary there; who would have operated it; and how often was it actually opened? Thanks in advance for the anticipated responses.

-- Ed Faggart (, July 06, 2003.

All were great Tributes to the forum and let's all keep up the good work. By the way, I have a pic from the JAX newspaper from right before the line was torn up of a BQ23-7 laying on its side where it had hit a logging truck somewhere between JAX and Maysville. According to a good friend of mine, it was the first time a BQ had been on the branch and certanly the last i'm sure. He went and looked at it and the loco was 6 mos old!!!

-- Vic Lewis (, July 04, 2003.

Below is a response I got from a friend that used to live in New Bern


Thanks for the info on New Bern passenger service. Allow me, if you will, to continue the saga a bit:

The Wilmington-to-New Bern line became part of the ACL which became part of the SCL which be..... Anyhow, freight service continued into the 1980s. When I moved to New Bern in 1981 the track was still in the middle of Queen Street and the SCL interchanged with the SOU at "Union" station. There was a diamond at the intersection of Queen and Hancock Streets with a curved connecting line west of the station towards the cemetery. A short spur continued beyond the diamond toward the river (I think it went onto docks at one time) and I remember SCL locomotives overnighting on that spur down by the river. I lived, at that time, in the Headmaster's House on the corner of Johnson and Hancock Streets and on more than one occasion when driving down Queen Street I was following an SCL caboose or trying to avoid that thing behind the headlight! The branch south of New Bern passed where WalMart is located and in front of the McDonalds. McD couldn't build right on the highway because of the RR track. I once saw an SCL locomotive stopped in front of McD's with the crew returning to the engine with their Happy Meals or whatever. That would have been a great advertising photo for McDonalds drive-up service! The track was taken up about 1985 or so and the military base and few remaining customers in Jacksonville were served via the Camp Lejune branch from Havelock.

-- Craig Strickland (, July 04, 2003.

Tom, that operating pattern continued right up until service was terminated on the line in the 80s. If you drove from Jacksonville to Wilmington on Monday, Wenesday or Friday morning, you would typically pass the northbound freight on a schedule similar to that published in the Official Guide I own from 1933. You'd normally see him someplace around Holly Ridge or Dixon at 9:30 or 10:00 am. I don't know if they went all the way to New Bern in those days, although I do remember seeing SCL trains street running in New Bern in the 70s.

-- Pete Wenk (, July 04, 2003.

Tom's responses are always very impressive. Great job. Your input to the forum is much appreciated

-- Ed Faggart (, July 04, 2003.

Here's a quick recap of passenger service on the ACL's Wilmington-Jackson-New Bern branch. This line was begun by the Wilmington, Onslow & East Carolina RR in 1891. That company was acquired by the Wilmington, New Bern & Norfolk RR in 1893 at which time trains were running from Wilmington to Maysville, 16 miles north of Jacksonville. The line was completed into New Bern by November 1893. The ACL acquired the WNB&N in 1897. Passenger service was usually one round trip a day, except Sunday, from New Bern to Wilmington and return. From about 1910 to about 1918, there were two round trips, one from New Bern and one from Wilmington. From 1918 the schedule reverted to one R-T from New Bern, daily. The Sunday R-T was dropped in 1926. This train began running daily as a mixed in mid 1927, and in 1930 passenger service was cut again, then running Tues-Thurs-Sat southbound and Mon-Wed-Fri northbound. This service continued until about January 1939 when the branch went freight only.

-- Tom Underwood (, June 30, 2003.

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