Piedmont and Northern Railway
|Headquarters||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Locale||Upstate South Carolina, Western North Carolina|
|Dates of operation||1911–1969|
|Predecessor||Piedmont Traction Company, Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson Railway|
|Successor||Seaboard Coast Line|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Electrification||1500 volts DC (until 1954)|
|Length||128 miles (206 km)|
The Piedmont & Northern Railway (reporting mark PN) was a heavy electric interurban company operating over two disconnected divisions in North and South Carolina. Tracks spanned 128 miles (206 km) total between the two segments, with the northern division running 24 miles (39 km) from Charlotte, to Gastonia, North Carolina, including a three-mile (5 km) spur to Belmont. The southern division main line ran 89 miles (143 km) from Greenwood to Spartanburg, South Carolina, with a 12 mi (19 km) spur to Anderson. Initially the railroad was electrified at 1500 volts DC, however, much of the electrification was abandoned when dieselisation was completed in 1954.
Unlike similar interurban systems the Piedmont & Northern survived the Great Depression and was later absorbed into the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad in 1969. Although part of the railroad was abandoned between Greenwood and Honea Path and Belton to Anderson, much of the original system exists today as shortlines. Once part of CSX, it is now owned by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, which awarded a contract in May 2010 to Patriot Rail Corporation to restore the track and operate trains along the 12 miles (19 km) line.
Although interurban railroads were not nearly as common in the sparsely populated and largely agrarian Deep South, there were a number of small electric networks constructed in the region throughout the early 20th century. Among them was the Anderson Traction Company, created on June 22, 1904, to build and operate within the city of Anderson. Eventually the railroad expanded to complete construction of an extension to Belton by 1910. The railroad was acquired by James B. Duke of Duke Power around the same time.
On March 20, 1909, the Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson Railway was chartered and presided over by Duke. The company used the Anderson Traction Company rails terminating at Belton as a starting point for northward construction to Greenville and construction toward Greenwood to the south, with both cities connected in November 1912. An extension from Greenville to Spartanburg was completed in April 1914. The North Carolina division started with the Piedmont Traction Company, also owned by Duke, and completed its route between Charlotte and Gastonia, North Carolina on July 3, 1912.
Both sections were electrified to 1,500 volts DC with power supplied from mainly hydroelectric sources. Additionally both segments were built to steam road standards with minimal street running.
The Piedmont & Northern was created in 1914 to consolidate both the Greenville, Spartanburg & Anderson in South Carolina and the Piedmont Traction Company in North Carolina. In 1916 the railroad completed a 3-mile (4.8 km) spur to Belmont, North Carolina. On numerous occasions the company sought to link the two disconnected segments and expand to Durham, North Carolina, however, the plans never materialized due to stiff resistance from the Southern Railway, which the P&N paralleled in both states.
Although many railroads were hostile to the Piedmont & Northern, a friend was found with the Seaboard Air Line, which connected with the P&N at Charlotte and Greenwood. Throughout its existence the P&N stressed interchange traffic over its efficient electric lines, and with good reason: the railroad shared numerous interchanges with several major railroads.
The P&N's network in 1964 was connected to the Clinchfield Railroad (CRR), Carolina and North Western Railroad (C&NW), Georgia and Florida Railroad (G&F), Norfolk Southern (NS), Seaboard Air Line Railroad (SAL), Southern Railway (SOU), Atlantic Coast Line Railroad (ACL), Greenville and Northern Railroad (G&N), Charleston and Western Carolina (C&WC) and Ware Shoals Railroad.
Though owned by Duke Power, the P&N operated coal trains over a branch from Mount Holly, NC, to Terrell, NC, supplying Duke Power's Lake Norman powerplants.
|0.0||Charlotte||Southern, NS||Piggyback ramps|
|4.1||Pinoca||SAL||Shops (still in use by CSX)|
|23.4||Gastonia||Southern, C&NW||Piggyback ramp|
|0.0||Spartanburg||ACL, Southern, Clinchfield, C&WC||Piggyback ramp|
|3.9||Saxon (Camp Wadsworth?)|
|27.1||Paris (Hampton Heights?)|
|33.5||Greenville (River Junction)||ACL, G&N, Southern, C&WC||Piggyback ramp|
|11.6||Anderson||C&NW, ACL, C&WC|
|74.3||Shoals Junction||Southern, Ware Shoals RR|
|88.9||Greenwood||ACL, G&F, SAL, Southern, C&WC||Piggyback ramp|
Plans to connect the North and South Carolina divisions between Spartanburg, SC and Gastonia, NC, and to expand northwards towards Winston-Salem, NC, were successfully blocked by appeals by the Southern Railway and other entities in court cases in the 1930s, specifically PIEDMONT & N. RY. CO. v. UNITED STATES, 280 U.S. 469 (1930) and PIEDMONT & N R. CO. v. INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION, 286 U.S. 299 (1932).
The P&N, though involved in extensive passenger operations, was primarily a heavy freight carrier. The most important commodity transported was coal and coke, but also of significance were cotton (including cotton waste) and paper.
|Coal and Coke||30203||37995||+7792|
(Data from P&N 1955 Annual Report)
|Road Number||Builder||Build Date||Engine Number||Tractive Effort||Notes|
|5000||Baldwin-Westinghouse||10-1911||37124||13,700||Built with two trolley poles; pantograph installed 1935|
|5001||Baldwin-Westinghouse||10-1911||37150||13,700||Built with two trolley poles; pantograph installed 1935|
|5002||Baldwin-Westinghouse||10-1911||37151||13,700||Built with two trolley poles; pantograph installed 1935|
|5003||Baldwin-Westinghouse||10-1911||37152||13,700||Built with two trolley poles; pantograph installed 1935|
|5004||Baldwin-Westinghouse||11-1911||37272||13,700||Built with two trolley poles; pantograph installed 1935|
|5005||Baldwin-Westinghouse||11-1911||37273||10,000||Built with two trolley poles; pantograph installed 1935|
|5006||Baldwin-Westinghouse||4-1917||44508||12,000||Ex Salt Lake & Utah #102, bought by P&N in 1947|
|5100||GE 63t boxcab||12-1913||4651||13,000||GE class 404-E-120-4-GE-212F 63 ton boxcab.|
|5101||GE 63t boxcab||12-1913||4652||13,000||GE class 404-E-120-4-GE-212F 63 ton boxcab.|
|5102||GE 63t boxcab||12-1913||4653||13,000||GE class 404-E-120-4-GE-212F 63 ton boxcab.|
|5103||GE 63t boxcab||12-1913||4654||13,000||GE class 404-E-120-4-GE-212F 63 ton boxcab. Preserved at North Carolina Transportation Museum, Spencer, NC. Originally preserved by the Atlanta Chapter NRHS at the Southeastern Railway Museum, Duluth, Ga until 1996. |
|5104||GE 63t boxcab||12-1913||4655||13,000||GE class 404-E-120-4-GE-212F 63 ton boxcab.|
|5105||GE 63t boxcab||12-1913||4656||13,000||GE class 404-E-120-4-GE-212F 63 ton boxcab.|
|5106||GE||1912||3806||14,800||Ex Oregon Electric #25; Sold to Utah-Idaho Central as #25, 1945; bought by P&N in 1948|
|5500||P&N Pinoca Shops||1917||-||14,800||Built from bodies of 4000-series express motors|
|5501||P&N Pinoca Shops||1918||-||17,072||Built from bodies of 4000-series express motors|
|5502||P&N Pinoca Shops||1918||-||17,072||Built from bodies of 4000-series express motors|
|5600||P&N Pinoca Shops||1918||-||27,072||Built from body of 4000-series express motors; rebuilt with steel cab in 1937; rebuilt as #5612 in 1949|
|5601||P&N Greenville Shops||1924||-||22,400||Baldwin trucks|
|5602||P&N Greenville Shops||1928||-||25,600||Baldwin trucks|
|5610||P&N Greenville Shops||1938||-||69,000||GE trucks|
|5611||GE||1941||-||34,500||Built by GE to P&N design|
|5612||P&N Greenville Shops||1949||-||75,000||Rebuilt from #5600|
|Road Numbers||Builder / Dates Built||Model||Livery||Notes|
|1000–1005||6||Alco / 1954||S-4||gloss black, yellow striping|
|1600–1609||10||Alco /1950-1951||RS-3||gloss black, yellow striping||Formerly numbers 100-109|
|2000–2001||2||Alco / 1965||C420||gloss black, yellow striping|
|Road Numbers||Type||Builder / Dates Built||Construction||Seats||Notes|
|1||Birney||Brill, 1916||Steel||32||Use and fate unknown|
|4||City||Southern Car, 1917||Wood|
|350||Combine||AC&F, 1913||Steel||26||Purchased from Pennsylvania Railroad - wrecked on February 21, 1941|
|351||Express||P&N, 1942||Steel||-||Rebuilt from wreck of #350|
|400-403||Trailer||PRR, 1913||Steel||72||Bought from the Pennsylvania Railroad; ran for a while with old nos. 325, 400, 408, 428|
|404||Trailer||Jewett, 1911||Wood||60||Original trailer coach no. 2404|
|405-407||Trailer||PRR, 1913||Steel||60||Bought from Long Island Rail Road, ex-numbers 401, 402, 405|
|2050–2051||Combine||P&N, 1928||Wood||36||Rebuilt by P&N from number 2014 and 2008|
|2060||Express||P&N, 1942||Wood||-||Rebuilt from #2005|
|2100–2101||Combine||Southern Car, 1914||Steel||54||Former 2500 class trailer, powered in 1919|
|2102||Combine||Southern Car, 1914||Steel||68||Former 2500 class trailer powered in 1919, 10' express section added in 1924. Preserved at The Museum Greenwood, SC.|
|2103–2107||Coach||Southern Car, 1914||Steel||68||Former 2500 class trailer, powered in 1919|
|2108||Coach||Southern Car, 1914||Steel||68||Electric coach rebuilt from parlor-observation car "Catawba" in 1928|
|2200||Parlor-Observation||Southern Car, 1914||Steel||-||Open observation parlor-observation car "Catawba". Rebuilt in 1935 with glassed-in solarium section|
|2201||Parlor-Observation||Southern Car, 1914||Steel||-||Open observation parlor-observation car "Saluda". Rebuilt with extra large back platform as business car "Carolina". Preserved at The Museum Greenwood, SC with original furniture.|
|2300||Express||1912||Wood||Former freight car; doors built onto ends for train access.|
|2400–2405||Coach trailer||Jewett, 1911||Wood||60||Demotorised 2000-class rebuilt into 2100-class|
|2500–2507||Coach trailer||Southern Car, 1914||Steel||54||Motorised 1923-1925|
|3000-3004||Coach trailer||Niles, 1910||Wood||54||Five coaches obtained for military transport by USRA from Louisville & Northern Railway|
|4000-4007||Express||Southern Car, 1911||Wood||-||Later used to build 5500 and 5600 class electric locomotives|
Fate of the rolling stock
Some of the electric locomotives were shipped to South America, the rest were scrapped. The diesels were taken over by the Seaboard Coast Line in 1969 after that railroad took over the P&N; of them, all have been scrapped except for one S-4 surviving in the US on the Laurinburg and Southern, and four that were sent to Venezuela.
The interurban #2102, Office Car 2201 "Carolina" (formerly Saluda) and Caboose x-23 are preserved and on display to the public at the Railroad Historical Center in Greenwood, SC.
Only four of the stations built for the P&N, designed by Charles Christian Hook are still in existence today in North Carolina.
In Gaston County, several structures are still standing. The depot in Mount Holly, North Carolina is still standing and is used as a hair salon. The former P&N depot in Belmont, NC has been restored and was a P&N museum until 2004, when the lease ran out and was not given extension by the owner. The former P&N station in Gastonia, NC, burned down in 1995. Lastly, the small depot of McAdenville, NC is still standing, though it has been relocated from its previous location.
In Piedmont, SC, the building is still standing, and appears to be in use as a storage shed in reasonable condition.
Nothing remains of the P&N in Honea Path, SC, apart from power poles still standing, delineating the former right-of-way.
The station at Taylors, SC was still standing in 1987. Though it is now gone, a former substation - including some overhead poles of the P&N line - can still be found near the CSX's Enoree River viaduct.
Some of the P&N's former lines are still in existence, with limited amounts still in operation. The track from Pelzer, SC to Spartanburg, SC is the CSX's Belton Subdivision. The segment from Pelzer to Belton was taken over by the Greenville and Western Railway in 2006. The track from Mt. Holly, NC to Gastonia, NC and from Mount Holly to Belmont, NC is still in place. Initially the track belonged to CSX; it is now owned by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, which awarded a contract in May 2010 to Patriot Rail Corporation to restore the track and operate trains along the 12 miles (19 km) line.
The former P&N RR Charlotte terminal freight depot was in the Mint/Graham/Second(MLK)St /Third St block, while the Charlotte terminal passenger depot was in the Mint/Graham/Third St/Fourth St block in Charlotte. BB&T Ballpark now sits on the former depot site.
- Hilton, George W. (2000). The Electric Interurban Railways in America. Sanford University Press. pp. 331–333. ISBN 0-8047-4014-3.
- "Patriot Rail wins bid to restore North Carolina line; Stillwater Central assumes Oklahoma line operation". Progressive Railroading.com. May 17, 2010. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
- Fetters, Thomas (2005). "New Piedmont & Northern Discoveries". Lines South. White River Productions. 22 (4): 28–30.
- "Piedmont & Northern 5103". Archived from the original on April 25, 2018. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- "Thrift P&N Railroad Station - Old Mt. Holly Road, Paw Creek Community". Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved November 1, 2007.
- Ellis, Mike (January 27, 2011). "Nearly century-old train station burns". Independent-Mail. Anderson, South Carolina. p. 4a.
- Buchanan, Carter (March 26, 2006). "Evidence of former P&N electrification". RRPictureArchives.net. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved November 1, 2007.
- Fetters, Thomas T., and Swanson, Peter W. Jr. (1974). Piedmont & Northern. Golden West Books. ISBN 0-87095-051-7.
- Lynch, Thomas G. (1954). Piedmont Prodigy: The Story of the Piedmont & Northern Railway.
- Wade Jr., James H. (1993). Greenwood County and its Railroads (1852-1993). The Museum. ISBN 0-9634787-1-0.
- "Piedmont and Northern Railway Company Records". J Murrey Atkins Library. UNC Charlotte.