Piedmont and Northern Railway

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Piedmont and Northern Railway
HeadquartersCharlotte, North Carolina
Reporting markPN
LocaleUpstate South Carolina, Western North Carolina
Dates of operation1911–1969
PredecessorPiedmont Traction Company, Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson Railway
SuccessorSeaboard Coast Line
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification1500 volts DC (until 1954)
Length128 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.[1]

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.[2]


Postcard of Charlotte Interurban Depot

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.[1]

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.[3] 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.[1]


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.

North Carolina Division
Mile Station Interchange Notes
0.0 Charlotte Southern, NS Piggyback ramps
3.8 Chemway
4.1 Pinoca SAL Shops (still in use by CSX)
5.4 Toddville
6.9 Thrift
10.6 Sodyeco
11.1 Mount Holly
-- -- -- --
0.0 Mount Holly
Cowans Ford
-- -- -- --
13.5 North Belmont
-- -- -- --
0.0 North Belmont
3.1 Belmont Southern
-- -- -- --
16.5 McAdenville Junction
17.6 McAdenville
17.9 Lowell
19.7 Ranlo
21.7 Groves
23.4 Gastonia Southern, C&NW Piggyback ramp
South Carolina Division
Mile Station Interchange Notes
0.0 Spartanburg ACL, Southern, Clinchfield, C&WC Piggyback ramp
3.9 Saxon (Camp Wadsworth?)
6.6 Clevedale
10.2 Startex Southern
12.0 Lyman Southern
13.4 Duncan
18.3 Greer Southern
Chick Springs
23.1 Taylors Southern
27.1 Paris (Hampton Heights?)
33.5 Greenville (River Junction) ACL, G&N, Southern, C&WC Piggyback ramp
36.5 White Horse
Golden Grove
43.7 Piedmont Southern
48.4 Pelzer Southern
50.5 Williamston Southern
58.0 Belton Southern, C&NW
-- -- -- --
0.0 Belton Southern, C&NW
11.6 Anderson C&NW, ACL, C&WC
-- -- -- --
65.8 Honea Path Southern
71.4 Donalds
74.3 Shoals Junction Southern, Ware Shoals RR
80.2 Hodges
83.9 Downs Southern
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.

Statement of Car Loads of Freight Handled (in Carloads) - Years 1955 and 1954
Commodity Carloads,
Grain and
Grain Products
3221 3258 +37
Packing House
2200 2381 +181
Fruits and
1874 1838 -36
Coal and Coke 30203 37995 +7792
4465 4966 +501
Cotton and
8093 8907 +814
2746 2842 +96
Sand and
2196 2521 +325
Automobiles 1889 2061 +172
Oil and
2920 2738 -182
Fertilizer and
Fertilizer Products
4056 3176 -880
Machinery 613 732 +119
Paper and
Paper Products
6480 6786 +306
Clay and
Fullers Earth
1897 1805 -92
Iron and
Steel Articles
2746 3297 +37
2257 2054 -203
Merchandise 4767 4350 -417
Miscellaneous 17128 17986 +858

(Data from P&N 1955 Annual Report)

Motive power[edit]

Piedmont and Northern Electric Locomotives
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. [4]
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
Piedmont and Northern Diesel Locomotives
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
Piedmont and Northern City & Interurban Cars
Road Numbers Type Builder / Dates Built Construction Seats Notes
1 Birney Brill, 1916 Steel 32 Use and fate unknown
2 City Stephenson, 1917 Wood
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
2000–2022 Combine Jewett, 1911–1912 Wood 60
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[edit]

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.

The Thrift depot in the Paw Creek community in Charlotte, NC is the only remaining P&N station in Mecklenburg County, NC; it is presently for sale."[5]

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.

Former P&N depot, Piedmont, SC

In South Carolina, at least four stations are still standing: Donalds, Hodges, Greer, and Anderson. The abandoned depot at Pelzer burned on the night on January 26, 2011, and shortly afterward it and the nearby Piedmont station were demolished by the CSX which had refused to support a local effort to save the Pelzer station.[6]

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.[7]

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.[2]

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.


  1. ^ a b c Hilton, George W. (2000). The Electric Interurban Railways in America. Sanford University Press. pp. 331–333. ISBN 0-8047-4014-3.
  2. ^ a b "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.
  3. ^ Fetters, Thomas (2005). "New Piedmont & Northern Discoveries". Lines South. White River Productions. 22 (4): 28–30.
  4. ^ "Piedmont & Northern 5103". Archived from the original on April 25, 2018. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  5. ^ "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.
  6. ^ Ellis, Mike (January 27, 2011). "Nearly century-old train station burns". Independent-Mail. Anderson, South Carolina. p. 4a.
  7. ^ 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.