Abingdon Branch - a question...

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Mon Mar 8 21:23:58 EST 2010

Okay, this is probably a stupid question, but here goes anyway...

I'm modeling the Danville & Western, which means I'm researching the
history of the Danville & Western. From the beginning, the plan was to
extend it from Stuart, VA all the way to the N&W main line in or around
Bristol. Although the line ended up in the hands of Southern, it was at
one time an independent (albeit broke) operation, and there is some
suggestion that it had the backing of the N&W to some degree prior to
it's falling under the control of the Richmond and Danville. Had it
ever happened, it would have given the N&W access to Danville, VA, and a
lucrative Tobacco trade and textiles manufacturing area.

What's all this got to do with the Abingdon Branch? I was looking at an
1895 map tonight, and I looked over toward Bristol to see what it would
have taken to connect it with Stuart and the end of the D&W. Lo and
behold, there's a line running east from the N&W main line just east of
Bristol - what is it? It didn't take long to figure out it was the
Abingdon Branch, which got me thinking... Was the branch built as the
western end of the D&W connection? Is it possible that the N&W was
trying to build that connection itself?

A little more history, in case it matters or is interesting:
The D&W was originally the Danville and New River RR, and proposed,
chartered, etc. around the Civil War. Construction did not start until
1880 or so, and by the late '80s it was running as far as Stuart, as a
3' narrow gauge line. In fact, it was in Martinsville before the
Roanoke & Southern, by several years. The plan was always to extend the
line westward, because it was pretty much a railroad to nowhere as it
stood. The dream was floated as late as the 1920s, but of course it
never happened. The railroad was taken over by the Richmond & Danville,
and eventually by Southern, but operated as its own railroad (albeit
with borrowed Southern motive power and facilities) until the mid-60s

Just a little dreaming after dinner... wondering what would have
happened if the line had ever been finished as originally planned.
Kenneth Rickman - krickman1 at carolina.rr.com
Salisbury, NC

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