Atlantic & Yadkin Railway

History &


A Brief History

The Atlantic & Yadkin Railway is no more.  Once it ran from Mount Airy, North Carolina southeast to Sanford, North Carolina.  This shortline's short lifespan covered 1900 to 1950, but some of its rails were laid down in the Nineteenth Century as part of the Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley Railway. Some of those lines are still in use today as parts of the Yadkin Valley Railway.  The A&Y came into being when representatives of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad (soon to be reformed as the Atlantic Coast Line) outbid the Southern Railway for the debt-ridden CF&YV in an 1899 auction. The Wilmington & Weldon Railroad had a clause in its mortgage that required any railroad purchased by the W&W to be placed under the same corporate name.  The W&W did not want the whole of the CF&YV.  So the CF&YV was sold to the Southern Railway, where it was reorganized as a new company under the name Atlantic & Yadkin Railway.  The newly created A&Y then sold back the southern half of its lines from Sanford to Wilmington to the W&W.  The northern half remained a subsidiary of the Southern Railway. The questionable legality of the transaction regarding the split of the CF&YV meant years of legal wrangling by angry investors and interested state citizens who saw the only "trunk" line from the western mountains to a North Carolina port split between two competitors, but the North Carolina courts eventually sided with the railroads that the crafty sale and reorganization was legal. The Southern wholly owned the A&Y, but in 1917 allowed it to run independently until the short lines' wilting fortunes convinced the Southern's management to absorb the company and make the lines part of the Winston-Salem division in 1950.

Here is a map of the Atlantic & Yadkin Railway from 1900:

Map of the Atlantic & Yadkin Railway

The A&Y did not own revenue cars, and its locomotives were primarily leased from the Southern.  In 1950, the Atlantic & Yadkin Railway was dissolved and absorbed into the Winston-Salem Division of the Southern Railway System. Much of the line from Rural Hall to Greensboro eventually became redundant and was abandoned. The line from Mount Airy to Rural Hall remains intact and is now part of the Yadkin Valley Railroad, which also operates former Southern Railway trackage to North Wilkesboro. The line from Gulf to Sanford was eventually sold to the Atlantic & Western Railway.

This website is devoted to the history of the Atlantic & Yadkin Railway.

Why the A&Y?

Some people will wonder why I bother trying to learn about an obscure short line in North Carolina that ceased to exist a half century ago.  Sometimes I wonder too.  I grew up in Maryland not North Carolina, and I currently live in Northern New England.  I was not born until thirteen years after the A&Y ceased to exist.  None of my family were railroad employees, much less railroaders.

The only answer I have is this: I am a railfan and I'm curious about what short line railroading was like in the past.  The A&Y has not been the subject of much historical interest to date. And I guess I just like the obscure - the most ordinary and most overlooked.


Why a website?

I decided that a website gives you a chance to see what I have found.  You do not have to pay directly to access this website in the same way you would have to pay to read a book I might publish.  Therefore, people who might never have heard of this railway and who would never buy a railroad history book might become interested like I did. One day, I might get to write that book.  For now, here is what I've found.



Then click on the pass below, and explore the Atlantic & Yadkin Railway!

Atlantic & Yadkin Pass from 1918


This website is copyrighted by David M. Bott.  Images appearing on this website may be protected by U.S. Copyright Law, donor restrictions, and other rights or policies. The Railroad Roman font used in the title was bought from Ben Coifman. Persons who contemplate copying and using font or images should obtain all necessary permissions pertaining to use. Authorization to use images credited to the North Carolina Collection, University of N.C. Library at Chapel Hill should be sought from the Collection at CB#3934, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-8890. Telephone 919-962-7992. Images credited to the North Carolina State Library Photo Archives are considered in the public domain.  Images credited to others or unknown are subject to copyright restrictions and permission for use should be obtained.