Seaboard - long straights : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

As a schoolboy, poring over the facts and figures in a mid-century edition of the A.A.R. "Quiz" booklet, I recall seeing an item which stated that the S.A.L. had the longest straight stretch of track in the United States. This provokes two questions, [1] Between which points and how long was it? [2] Were there any others on the S.A.L. more than 10 miles in length? [I am thinking specifically of between Savannah and Thalmann]. JimW --

-- Jim Warsher (, December 25, 2004


Harry and group :

Well, Harry knew just what was needed and where to find it. I expect it's the same way with men from other crafts when they see one of their own kind do something good. As a retired dispatcher, I just get a feeling of how nice it would have been to take a district in transfer from a guy like Harry Bundy. Thanks. JimW --

-- Jim Warsher (, December 29, 2004.

If I'm reading the track chart correctly, there's a tangent from the Midway River (Limerock, GA) Mile Post 522.1 to Cox, Mile Post 550.4. That's 28.3 miles, give or take a few thousand feet.

-- Harry Bundy (, December 29, 2004.

Thanks to all who responded. I think I may have bulled by not being specific enough in my original post and my question turned out to seem general. Bill Sellers, of course, makes a very good point. What I was looking for was someone who had access to S.A.L. track charts for the main track between Savannah and Thalmann, Ga., if they could take a look and pull some mileages off them with end points. Apologies for any confusion caused. Jim W. --

-- Jim Warsher (, December 28, 2004.

Just like to add my two cents to this discussion. While it is true that SAL had the longest stretch of tangent track in the US, along with several other stretches of tangent track, including the section of track north of West Palm Beach, the use of "Airline" had nothing to do with such tangents. During the latter decades of the 19th Century/early part of the 20th Century, the term "airline" was popularly used to denote the shortest distance between two points. Several railroads used the term in their names as a way to try to indicate that their route was the shortest distance between two points, and thus, the fastest. That is the true genesis of the word "Airline" in the Seaboard's name.

-- Michael W. Savchak (, December 28, 2004.

I have often heard that the stretch that runs from W. Palm Beach, Fl through Indian Town, FL was one of the longest straights in the U.S.

-- August Staebler (, December 26, 2004.

Mr. Warsher,

Seaboard had a considerable number of tangents longer than ten miles. The line from Laurel Hill, NC (MP 262) to Wilmington was most notable, but you can't see more than a few miles of it because of all the hills. It is tangent, but it is not flat. The other tangent you referenced was 29 miles from north of Limerick, GA and terminated south of Cox. The tangent south of Charleston on the EC-- from just south of the Second Stono River Crossing to just north of Lobeco--was 38 miles.

I do recall another thread on this subject--please check the archived answers on the Wilmington lines or Hamlet terminal.

John Golden O'Fallon, IL

-- John Golden (, December 26, 2004.

Not a track record, but a fact worth mentioning. I once worked in engine service on the ACL so-called A-Line between South Rocky Mount and Florence, S.C. In this 172 miles of track there were, and probably still is 32 curves in that total 172 miles. By dividing 172 by 32, which prcludes the distance within the curves, the average length of tangent track between each curve is 5.375 miles, which means some are longer, and some are shorter. There are only 2 or 3 locations in this 172 miles where the track curvature limits the speed of passenger trains to 50 MPH, such as the "S" curve between Kenly and Micro, N.C., the "S" curve near Hope Mills, N.C. , and the approaches on each end of the single track bridge over Pee Dee Swamp. If the Seaboard could be called"Airline", then the ACL has earned the title "Jetline" by comparison. I will wager any amount that systemwide, the ACL had considerably more tangent track than the Seaboard ever dreamed of having, that long tangent between Wilmington and Hamlet notwithstanding.

-- Bill Sellers (, December 25, 2004.

40. What is the longest stretch of straight railway track in the United States?

A straight track, 78.86 miles in length, on the Seaboard Railway between Wilmington and Hamlet, North Carolina, is the longest stretch of track without a curve in the United States.

-- Crowell A. Lisenby Sr. (, December 25, 2004.

The Seaboard Air Line Railroad became one of the most progressive railroads in the country just before and during World War II. While the name 'Air Line' referred to the many stretches of tangent or straight track in parts of the Carolinas and in Florida, including the longest straight track in the United States between Wilmington and Hamlet, North Carolina---

-- Crowell A. Lisenby Sr. (, December 25, 2004.

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