(This is from the October 26, 1905, edition of the Manufacturers’ Record, Vol. XLVIII, No. 15, pg. 372.)
Coal To Charleston
Possibility That the Norfolk & Western Will Be Interested in a Line.
[Special Cor. Manufacturers’ Record.]
Roanoke, Va., October 23.
The fact that the recent annual meeting of the stockholders of the Norfolk & Western Railroad was attended by President Cassatt and other high officials of the Pennsylvania Railroad lends coloring to some very interesting railroad rumors that have leaked out since the meeting, and which, if they ultimately prove to be true, will mean great things for the whole of the South.
The Pennsylvania Railroad has been interested in the Norfolk & Western for some time, but recently it has increased its holdings. Just how much cannot be ascertained, but there are some who assert that the Pennsylvania is really in control of the road, and that in the future it will operate the Norfolk & Western as a southern division of its great system.
While on a visit to this city President Cassatt and his party of Pennsylvania officials made a minute inspection of the entire Norfolk & Western system. The many improvements that the company has made during the past year were noted, as were also those at other points along the entire line. Following the meeting and the visit came the announcement of orders placed for a large amount of rolling stock, the rush to complete double-tracking now in progress of construction and a general movement on the part of the company looking to a betterment of their facilities in every line.
The most interesting rumor connected with the visit of the Pennsylvania gentlemen, and one that the people of North Carolina are particularly interested in, is that the projected and surveyed line from Winston, N. C. to Wadesboro, a distance of about 70 miles, will be completed so that the Norfolk & Western -- or the Pennsylvania, as the case might be -- will have an outlet to the sea below Norfolk, one which could be utilized as a coaling station.
This project of having a coaling station south of Norfolk is not a new idea, but is one that has been the dream of the Norfolk & Western for some time. The projected road from Winston to Wadesboro is the key to the situation, and this road, once built, there would be nothing in the way, and Charleston, S. C., would be almost as accessible to the West Virginia coal fields as Norfolk now is, and would enable Southern ships to avoid the dangers of Hatteras when loading coal.
President Cassatt and the Pennsylvania people are fully posted on these conditions, and their gradual increase in the holdings of the Norfolk & Western is attributed to the fact that the possibilities of the route to Charleston has appealed to them most favorably. The officials of the Norfolk & Western here are reticent, and if anything is known to them they will not give it out. There is the greatest activity in all lines that the road has ever known in its history, and the forces are being constantly enlarged. The yard facilities have been greatly increased at this point, and they are still surveying for more track in anticipation of further business. They are just at this time completing an additional office building, which adjoins the one they now occupy, which is six stories high and will cost when completed something like $100,000. The new passenger station here has only recently opened, and this cost about $110,000. They are now building a new frog shop at their general machine works here, and while not given out officially, it is said on the most reliable authority that their present capacity in the shops will be doubled within the next 18 months or two years.
On the line that leads from this city to Winston, and which would be the connection between this city and the terminal of the proposed new line to Wadesboro, there have been great improvements in the past year or two. Places where they have been long and dangerous trestles have been filled in until now there is practically as good roadbed on this branch as any branch the Norfolk & Western owns. Wooden bridges have been replaced with strong steel structures, and the work on the roadbed is being continued all the time. The unusual amount of work that has been done on this branch also lends credence to the report of having a coaling point south of Norfolk, and, all things being taken into consideration, it is confidently predicted that within the next few months the work of building the road from Winston to Wadesboro will commence.
The natural resources of the South are too numerous and too manifest to remain long undeveloped, and this looks like an initiative on the part of one of the largest corporations of the North to commence this great work. What it will ultimately mean to the industrial and commercial interest of the Virginias and Carolinas can only be estimated, but that it will mean much is readily apparent.
Louis E. Pepper.