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THE FIRST RAILROAD PROJECT.<a href="#1" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 1

From Asheville's Centenary">[1] "When, about the year 1836, a railroad from Cincinnati to Charleston, which should pass through Asheville, was projected, Robert Y. Hayne, the great South Carolinian who had vanquished Daniel Webster in debate, was made its president. At a meeting of this company, held in Asheville in 1839, Mr. Hayne, who had continued to be its president, became dangerously ill, and died here September 24, 1839, in the old Eagle Hotel building."

The railroads which had been built prior to 1845 "were all in the eastern portion of the State. The need of a road toward the mountains was strikingly shown by the failure of the crops in the western counties.<a href="#2" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 2

Hill's, p. 259.">[2] Owing to this failure, even the necessaries of life became dear in that section. Corn rose from fifty cents to a dollar and a half a bushel; and yet, at the same time, corn in the eastern counties was rotting in the fields for lack of a market, and fish were being us to enrich the ground. The condition of the [wagon] roads in 1848 was, however, such as to discourage further expense."

A CROP FAILURE STARTED RAILROAD INTEREST. This general failure of crops in the mountain regions called attention to the want of communication between the two sections of the State; and in 1850-51 $12,000 was appropriated by the legislature to survey a route for a railroad from Salisbury to the Tennessee line where the French Broad river passes into 'Tennessee.

THE WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA RAILROAD. Although it is generally supposed that the Western North Carolina railroad had its genesis in 1855 the North Carolina and Western railroad, to run from Salisbury to the Tennessee line was chartered as early as 1852 (Ch. 136). Its authorized capital stock was $3,000,000. Nothing of consequence, however, was accomplished under this charter.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY. "In 1854 the State of North Carolina was completing the construction of her great work, the North Carolina railroad, and emboldened by this success and having in view a connection of her then existing system of railroads with the proposed Blue Ridge railroad, and so with the Great West, there was passed an act entitled: 'An Act to incorporate the Western North Carolina Railroad Company,' ratified February 15, 1855 (Laws of North Carolina 1854-55, ch. 228, p.257), which, after reciting the purpose of constructing a railroad to effect a communication between the North Carolina railroad and the Valley of the Mississippi,' provided for the organization of a corporation under the style of Western North Carolina Railroad Company, with power 'to construct a railroad, with one or more tracks, from the town of Salisbury on the North Carolina railroad, passing by or as near as practicable to Statesville, in the county of Iredell, to some point on the French Broad river, beyond the Blue Ridge, and if the legislature shall hereafter determine, to such point as it shall designate, at a future session.' Four years later, when the line had been located from Salisbury to the French Broad river at Asheville, the general assembly supplemented this original charter and definitely fixed the route of the proposed line in an act entitled: 'An Act to amend an Act entitled: "An Act to incorporate the Western North Carolina Railroad Company" passed at the session of 1854-55, and also an act amendatory thereof passed at the session of 1856-57' (Ratified February 15, 1859. Private Laws of North Carolina 1858-59, ch. 170, p. 217).<a href="#3" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 3

Col. Wm. H. Thomas was more active in securing this amendment than anyone else.">[3] This directed that the survey be continued from the point near Asheville to which the survey has already been made, extending west through the valley of the Pigeon and Tuckaseegee rivers, to a point on the line of the Blue Ridge railroad on the Tennessee river, or to the Tennessee line at or near Ducktown, in the county of Cherokee,' and thereby located a line which would connect the North Carolina railroad with the Blue Ridge railroad, an extension which has since been realized, without the Blue Ridge railroad connection, in the existing Murphy branch.

"As the legislature was intent, however, on effecting some western connection for the North Carolina system of railroads, the Western North Carolina was not limited to an alliance with the Blue Ridge railroad, but it was provided that the extension from Asheville might be down the French Broad river,, through Madison county, to the line of the State of Tennessee at or near Paint Rock, which might, 'connect with any company that has been formed or may be formed to complete the railroad connection with the East Tennessee and Virginia railroad.'"<a href="#4" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 4

Harrison's Legal History of the Lines of the Southern Railway.">[4]

Surveys were accordingly made for both of these proposed lines, and these surveys were duly approved by the legislature at its next session in an act ratified February 18, 1861. (Private Laws of North Carolina 1860-61, ch. 138, p.154).

"The alternative, or Paint Rock line so authorized, being that of Louisville, Cincinnati, and Charleston, which had been pronounced in the reports of the engineer read at the Knoxville convention in 1836 to be extraordinarily feasible for a railroad, would no doubt have been originally adopted by the Western North Carolina but for the fact that in 1859 the Blue Ridge railroad was still considered certain of construction, while the Cincinnati, Cumberland Gap and Charleston Railroad Company, which held the Tennessee franchise to carry on the old Louisville, Cincinnati and Charleston line from Paint Rock to a connection with the East Tennessee and Virginia railroad at Morristown, was financially weak.

"As the securing of a through trunk line was the principal object for which the construction of the Western North Carolina was undertaken, the proposed Blue Ridge connection accordingly dictated the adoption of the line from Asheville toward Murphy as the main line of the Western North Carolina and it was so considered as late as 1868 when the Constitutional convention, then in session, passed an ordinance entitled: 'An ordinance for the completion of the Western North Carolina Railroad,' ratified March 14, 1868 (Ordinances of 1868, ch. 50, p.100), which provided that no part of the subscription of the state to the Western North Carolina should be used in the construction of branch lines, except the line to Paint Rock until 'the main trunk line of a said railroad shall have been completed to Copper Mine, at or near Ducktown' and furthermore that the General Assembly 'is hereby authorized and directed to make such further appropriation or subscription to the capital stock of said railroad company as will insure the completion of said road at the earliest practicable day.'

"The Paint Rock line, thus relegated to the status of a branch, was not, however, abandoned but it was considered that the Tennessee enterprise of the Cincinnati, Cumberland Gap and Charleston was primarily interested therein, as is evidenced by the act entitled: 'An Act to amend the Charter of the Western North Carolina Railroad' ratified March 4, 1867, (Public Laws of N. C. 1866-67, ch. 94, p.152), which authorized the Western North Carolina to construct its line from Asheville to Paint Rock upon the 'Tennessee Gauge,' and to so maintain it until the entire line was completed, and the gauge of the North Carolina railroad could be established thereon uniformly. 'It was the realization of the Paint Rock line in 1881, however, that opened the only railroad which has ever been built through the southern ranges of the Appalachian Mountains."<a href="#4" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 4

Harrison's Legal History of the Lines of the Southern Railway.">[4]

ROUTE AND CONNECTIONS. It will be seen from the above how the route was changed from that originally contemplated.<a href="#5" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 5

Under the act incorporating the Western North Carolina R. R., commissioners were appointed to take subscriptions to the capital stock in Salisbury, Lincolnton, Newton, Statesville, Hcndersonville, Lenoir, Boone, Taylorsville, Morganton, Marion, Rutherfordton, Shelby, Mocksville, and Asheville. The act provided for the construction of a railroad to effect a communication between the North Carolina R. R. and the Valley of the Mississippi, no route being specified.">[5] It was never purposed to build this railroad by way of Franklin; as that town was on the proposed Blue Ridge line from Walballa, S. C., and it was the intention to connect with that line; but this connection was contemplated at some point west of Franklin, Ducktown, Tennessee, having been considered at one time as the point of junction, due to ignorance of the topography of the western part of the State, as the connection must necessarily have been somewhere on the Little Tennessee, that stream rising in Raburn gap, Ga.

RAPID PROGRESS. The Western North Carolina railroad was chartered by an act which was ratified February 15, 1855, and work was begun and the railroad completed and put into operation to within a few miles east of Morganton by the summer of 1861. A contract had been given to Crockford, Malone & Co., in September, 1860, when Dr. A. M. Powell was president of the railroad company, for the completion of the road from a point near Old Fort to the western portal of the Swannanoa tunnel, for a specified sum, plus 20 per cent for contingencies. These contractors stopped work in the spring of 1861 on account of the war, having done about $27,000 worth of work. Soon after the close of the Civil War, while Mr. ____ Caldwell was president and Capt. Samuel Kirkland was chief engineer, the road was completed to Morganton by paying 50 per cent increase on estimates made previous to the war, the increase being due to depreciation of currency. Colonel W. A. Eliason was elected chief engineer in 1868 and continued as such till April, 1871. Previous to 1868 Col. Eliason had been assistant engineer. The line had been changed in the winter of 1860-61 for a considerable distance on sections 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 and this reduced the estimates by $171,293.

LOCATION ON THE BLUE RIDGE CHANGED. The route up the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge was changed after the war to one with longer, safer and lighter grades than those of the original survey.<a href="#6" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 6

Shipp Fraud Com. Rep., pp. 250 and 307.">[6]

ENGINEERS AND MOUNTAIN WORK. While Col. J. W. Wilson was chief engineer Col. S. W. McD. Tate became president, and in October, 1866, the board of directors ordered the resumption of work west of Morganton, and the precedent of paying 50 per cent advance was followed. In January, 1868, the contract for the work from Old Fort to the western portal of the Swannanoa tunnel was let to John Malone & Co., diminished by the work which had been done by Crockford, Malone & Co., plus 50 per cent to the original estimates.

A PROPOSITION was afterwards made to Col. Wilson that, if he would turn over $200,000 of first mortgage bonds of the road, the chief engineer would make out estimates for $701,000 in addition to what he had received, which would be a majority of the $1,400,000 bonds authorized by the act of December 19, 1866. This proposition was made at the Boyden House in Salisbury in December, 1870, and the object was claimed to be to get control of the majority of the bonds and thus prevent a forced foreclosure of the railroad:

"Some time in the fall of 1869 I had conversation with Col. Tate in relation to the condition of the road.<a href="#7" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 7

Wm. A. Eliason Testimony, Shipp Fraud Com., p. 357.">[7] ...In one of those conversations in Morganton it was suggested that the sale of the road could not be forced unless a majority of the bonds got into the hands of one person. I suggested to Col. Tate that probably the contract with John Malone & Co. could be made useful in preventing the sale; that they claimed compensation for their work according to the old estimates and contract: with Crockford and Malone. I thought they were bound by the estimates on the line as changed by me, but that I would sign the estimates according to the old notes, with the understanding that 600 of the bonds were to be delivered to Maj. Wilson, and 200 were to be placed in my hands; for the whole was to be held so that they would not be put on the market and get into the hands of the New York speculators, and thereby endanger the sale of the road. The 800 were to be divided between Maj. Wilson and myself, so that no one was to have a majority of the bonds. 'Col. Wilson declined this proposition,' as it was 'much more than was due me, and I regarded the transaction as corrupt.'"<a href="#8" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 8

J. W. Wilson before Shipp Fraud Commission, p. 365.">[8]

A CHANGE OF OFFICERS. Dr. J. J. Mott succeeded Col. Tate as president of this division of the road, Col. Tate becoming financial agent when he secured the State bonds issued on account of the company. The office of financial agent was abolished in 1869. Col. Tate accounted for all these bonds before the Bragg committee, which found his official conduct correct.

JOHN MALONE & CO. The firm of John Malone & Co., was composed of John Malone, J. W. Wilson and Mr. Goldsborough of Maryland. J. W. Wilson had been the chief engineer and superintendent of the road from the summer of 1864 until the provisional governor was appointed in 1865. He was afterwards reappointed by the directors named by Gov. Worth and held the position until the spring of 1867, when he resigned in order to go into business. Up to September, 1871, John Malone & Co., had been paid for their work about $600,000, the estimate of the whole contract having been $1,959,000, two-thirds of which was to be paid in cash and one-third in stock, leaving $220,000 still due to the contractors. The Swepson and Littlefield frauds brought all work to a stop in 1870. (See Chapter XIX.)

WESTERN DIVISION ABOLISHED. At its session of 1873-74 the legislature repealed the act appointing the Woodfin commission and required the commissioners to turn over all the books and property of the Western Division to the directors of the Western North Carolina railroad, upon whom devolved the former duties of the commissioners; and the legislature of 1876-77 required the president of the railroad to report what property he had acquired from Swepson and Littlefield in his settlement with them. This Western Division consisted of the Murphy and Paint Rock lines. The Eastern Division was the line from Salisbury to Asheville.

EARLY LITIGATION. The Western North Carolina railroad got into trouble with its creditors, and, in 1874-75, we find a joint resolution to ascertain what the claims against the road could be bought for, and another joint resolution to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States from the decision of the United States court at Greensboro in the case of Henry Clews, Hiram Sibley and others V. the Western Division of the Western North Carolina railroad, and, finally (Ch. 150) an act to authorize the purchase of the road under the decree for its sale at not more than $850,000, with authority to issue seven per cent bonds to that amount, secured by a mortgage of the property; and to complete the road to Paint Rock and Murphy, the State to have three-fourths of the stock and the private stockholders the other third.

"By an act ratified March 13, 1875 (laws of North Carolina 1874-75, ch. 150, p.172), the Governor, Curtis H. Brogden, the president of the senate. R. F. Armfield, and the Speaker of the House, James L. Robinson, were constituted a commission with power to purchase the Western North Carolina railroad at the forthcoming sale in the Sibley suit for not exceeding $850,000, the amount which had been adjudged due on the outstanding first mortgage bonds issued by the Eastern Division. In order to force through the negotiations for the purchase of the outstanding claims, this commission was later authorized to prosecute an appeal in the Sibley suit to the Supreme Court of the United States, by resolution adopted March 20, 1875. (Laws of North Carolina 1874-75, p.405. See also a resolution concerning the expenses of this commission, ratified January 11, 1877, Laws of North Carolina 1876-77, p. 582.)

"This finally resulted in the execution of an agreement under date of April 17, 1875, whereby all the parties in interest, including the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia, the North Carolina Railroad Company and McAden, assigned all claims to the State commission consisting of Messrs. Brogden, Armfield and Robinson, in consideration of their agreement to purchase and reorganize the Western North Carolina, and to issue new first mortgage bonds for $850,000 to be ratably distributed among the parties in agreement was thereupon carried out, and reorganization by the State followed; the new corporation, hereinafter styled Western North Carolina Railroad Company No.2, taking possession of the property on October 1, 1875,"<a href="#9" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 9

Harrison's "Legal History of the Lines of the Southern Railway."">[9]

ORGANIZATION. By chapter 105 of the laws of 1876-77 the Western North Carolina railroad was organized with a capital stock of $850,000, three-fourths of which belonged to the State and one-fourth to the private stockholders to be appointed according to their several interests. The State also undertook to furnish 500 convicts to work on the road and the governor was authorized to buy iron to lay the track from the then terminus near Old Fort. It was also provided that when the road should have been completed to Asheville the convicts were to be divided equally, one-half to work on the Paint Rock line and the other half on the Murphy division, and that after the line should have been completed to Paint Rock, all the convicts were to be employed on the line to Murphy. Apparently, however, the State became uncertain as to the securities of the Richmond & Danville railroad for its lease of the Western North Carolina Railroad, for on the 23d of January, 1877, a joint resolution was adopted to enquire into the sufficiency of those securities. In 1879 the Western Division was abolished and consolidated with the Eastern Division under the name of the Western North Carolina Railroad Company.

W. J. BEST & CO. A special session of the legislature was called and by an act of March 29, 1880, (Ch. 26) the State agreed to sell the Western North Carolina railroad to Wm. J. Best, Wm. R. Grace, James D. Fish and J. Nelson Tappan subject to the mortgage of 1875 for $850,000, on which the purchasers were to pay the interest, etc.

The agreement of April 27, 1880, between Wm. J. Best et al. and the State of North Carolina, among recited:

"The Act of March 29, 1880, and provides in consideration of the delivery of a deed by the Commissioners named in said act to the United Trust Company, to be held in escrow, that the purchasers will:

  1. Complete the line to Paint Rock on or before July 1, 1881, and to Murphy on or before January 1, 1885.
  2. Repay to the State all moneys expended on the road after March 29,1880.
  3. Pay to the State $125 per annum rent for each of five hundred able-bodied convicts.
  4. That no bonds will be issued except as provided in the act.
  5. That they will deliver $520,000 of their first mortgage bonds, when issued and $30,000 cash, to make up the aggregate of $550,000, invested by the State in the property, to the State Treasurer.
  6. That they will pay the interest on the outstanding $850,000 of W. N. C. No.2 bonds."<a href="#10" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 10

    Fairfax Harrison's "Legal History of the Lines of the Southern Railway."">[10]
CLYDE, LOGAN AND BUFORD. "Clyde, Logan and Buford, in 1880, loaned W. J. Best money and he failed to pay same back and forfeited the road, he assigning all his interest to Messrs. Clyde, Logan and Buford on May 28, 1880."<a href="#10" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 10

Fairfax Harrison's "Legal History of the Lines of the Southern Railway."">[10]
These men controlled both the Richmond and Danville Railroad Company and the Richmond and West Point Terminal Company.<a href="#11" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 11

Letter from Col. A. B. Andrews to J. P. A., July, 1912.">[11]

THE RICHMOND AND DANVILLE. The Richmond and Danville Railroad Company at one time owned the Richmond and West Point Terminal Company, and afterwards the Richmond and West Point Terminal Company bought the Richmond and Danville. Under the assignment from Best the Richmond Terminal Company came into control of the Western North Carolina and immediately proceeded with the work, issuing two mortgages for this purpose.<a href="#13" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 13

Letter from Col. A. B. Andrews to J. P. A., July, 1912.">[13]

"The Richmond Terminal Company acquired the Western North Carolina in the interest of the expanding R. &. D system to extend its line from a connection at 8alisbury with the North Carolina Railroad, which the R. & D. was operating in 1880 under lease.

"For the next five years while the construction of the Western North Carolina was being completed the operation was carried on in the name of Western North Carolina No.3 as is evidenced by an act entitled:

" 'An Act empowering the Western North Carolina Railroad- Company to construct telegraph and telephone lines on its right of way.'

"Ratified March 6,1885.

"Laws of North Carolina 1885, ch. 294, p.542, which authorized the company to do a general telegraph business, but in 1886, when the R.& D. was assuming the operation of most of the Richmond Terminal lines in its own name, the following lease was executed:

" 'Western North Carolina Railroad Co., to Richmond and Danville Railroad Company, lease dated April 30, 1886 Term Ninety-nine years. Rental Net earnings above fixed charges. (Abrogated May 5, 1894.)' "<a href="#12" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 12

Fairfax Harrison's "Legal History of the Lines of the Southern Railway."">[12]

RICHMOND TERMINAL. "From this it will be seen that the property was operated as the Western North Carolina but was held by the Richmond Terminal Company up to April 30, 1886, from which time to May 5, 1894, when the Southern Railway purchased the property, it was operated by the Richmond & Danville under lease."<a href="#12" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 12

Fairfax Harrison's "Legal History of the Lines of the Southern Railway."">[12]

THE STATE SELLS THE RAILROAD. By an act of 1883 (ch. 241) the State agreed to sell the road to Clyde, Logan and Buford, assignees of W. J. Best and associates, provided they should complete it to the mouth of the Nantahala river by September 1, 1884, and should keep at work beyond that point 75 convicts. They were also required to purchase of the State treasurer $520,000 of the coupon bonds of the Western North Carolina railroad which they had deposited with the State treasurer under sections 12 and 24 of the act of March 29, 1880. The road was finished into Andrews in the summer of 1889 and to Murphy in 1891. Soon thereafter, to wit, on June 15, 1892, the old Richmond & Danville Railroad went into the hands of receivers, Fred W. Hidekoper, Reuben Foster, and, later on, Samuel Spencer, and emerged therefrom as the Southern Railway Company, August 22, 1894, when the order was made confirming the sale of the road which had been made by Charles Price, special master, on August 21 at Salisbury, for $500,000.

COMPLETION OF THE RAILROAD. From 1869 and thereafter for several years, passengers were taken from Old Fort, the terminus of the railroad, to Asheville in stage coaches operated by the late Ed. T. Clemmons, contractor. Jack Pence "drove the mountain," as the end of the line nearest Old Fort was called, handling "the ribbons" over six beautiful white horses. The part of the trip down the mountains was always made at night, but there was never an accident. After several years the road was completed to a station called Henry's, where it remained till 1879, when it had been finished to Azalia, 130 miles west of Salisbury. The formidable Blue Ridge had been successfully surmounted at last.

THE ANDREWS GEYSER. A hotel and geyser-like fountain were maintained at Round Knob from about 1885 to about the close of the last century, when the hotel was burned. The fountain had ceased some time before that; but in 1911 George F. Baker of New York, as a testimonial to the services Col. A. B. Andrews had rendered in the development of Western North Carolina, restored the fountain at his own expense. It throws a stream of water 250 feet into the air.

ARRIVAL AT VARIOUS POINTS.<a href="#14" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 14

These dates are from letters from Col. A. B. Andrews to J. P. A., dated July 19 and 21, 1913.">[14] The railroad was completed to Biltmore on Sunday, October 3, 1880; to Alexanders, 10 miles below Asheville on the French Broad, on the 4th day of July, 1881, and to Paint Rock January 25, 1882. The bridge at Marshall was finished June 15,1882. The Murphy branch was completed to Pigeon river, now Canton, January 28, 1882, reaching Waynesville later in the same year.

PROGRESS WEST OF WAYNESVILLE. If the original plan to have a tunnel through the Balsam mountain had been adhered to the terminus of the road must have remained at Waynesville many years; but the road was built over the mountain by a difficult and dangerous grade, and the work which had been done on the tunnel in 1869 and 1870 was abandoned. This Balsam gap is the highest railroad pass east of the Rocky mountains, being about 3,100 feet above sea level. . . . The road was completed to Dillsboro in 1883 and to Bryson city in 1884. It reached Jarrett's station, or Nantahala, at the mouth of the Red Marble creek, November 23, 1884. Here it stayed a long time, due to the fact that a tunnel had been contemplated through the Red Marble gap of' the Valley River Mountain; but after the grading had been completed nearly to the gap it was discovered that the soil would not support the roof and sides of a tunnel, and the whole work had to be done over again and the roadbed placed on a much higher grade. This serious error cost many thou- sands of dollars and long delay. The road was finished to Andrews in the summer of 1889, and its entrance into Murphy was celebrated in 1891, on the same day the cornerstone of the fine new court house was laid. The original survey required the road to go by old Valley Town, but it was changed. Several of the convicts who helped to build this road settled in Murphy when their terms expired and are making good citizens.

SPARTANBURG AND ASHEVILLE RAILROAD. This road was completed to Saluda, twelve miles east of Hendersonville in 1879, and to Hendersonville about 1882. It was necessary that Buncombe county should contribute to the building of this railroad.

BUNCOMBE'S SUBSCRIPTION. On the 5th of August, 1875, there were 1,944 votes for subscription to $100,000 of the stock of the Spartanburg and Asheville railroad, and only 242 votes against subscription, and the bonds were issued bearing six per cent interest and due in twenty years. But they were issued only as the grading was completed and amounted at the end to only $98,000 in all. These bonds were refunded at par by new bonds dated July 1, 1895, due in twenty years, under Chapter 172, Public Laws 1893. But at the meeting of the Republican board of county commissioners on December 27, 1897, they ratified a contract which had been made by the board and Hon. A. C. Avery, Mark W. Brown and Moore & Moore, attorneys, to contest the validity of the bonds in a case entitled the County Commissioners v. W. R. Payne, County Treasurer. This attempted repudiation was used by the Democrats to defeat the Republicans in November, 1898. But the Democrats themselves afterwards employed counsel to carry out the repudiation of these bonds on the ground that the bill had not been read on three separate days in each house. However, certain holders of these bonds soon brought an action in the District court of the United States, which held that the bonds were valid.

RICHMOND PEARSON's BILL. Having secured the $100,000 subscription from Buncombe county, the officers of this road seemed satisfied to keep its terminal at Hendersonville indefinitely. Consequently, in 1885, Hon. Richmond Pearson, of Buncombe, introduced a bill in the legislature to declare forfeited the charter of the Spartanburg and Asheville Railroad Company, but before it could be read a second time, the railroad company began work and in 1886 completed the road to Asheville. During the time the road's terminus remained at Hendersonville Buncombe county was paying interest on the $98,000 of bonds which had been issued.

THE SOUTH AND WESTERN RAILROAD. The South and Western railroad was completed from Johnson City, Tennessee, to Huntdale, Yancey county, North Carolina, in 1900. It was afterwards built to Spruce Pine in 1904.

THE SOUTHERN RAILWAY IN THE MANGER. From the decision of the Supreme court in the case of the Johnson City Southern Railway against the South and Western Railroad Company<a href="#15" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 15

148 N. C. Reports, p. 59.">[15] it is clear that the Southern Railway Company in 1907 attempted to defeat the building of this incomparable railroad now crossing the mountains from Marion, North Carolina, to Johnson City, Tennessee, by alleging that it (the Southern) was seeking to condemn land along the North Toe river in Yancey county for the purpose of constructing a railway from the coal fields to tidewater, when in point of fact it "did not in good faith intend to construct a railroad over the line in controversy," but had caused the Johnson City railroad to be "incorporated for the purpose of hindering, delaying and obstructing the building of a railroad along the North Toe by the South and Western Railway Company which was in good faith constructing a railroad from Johnson City.... to Spruce Pine in North Carolina, and was operating the same."<a href="#15" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 15

148 N. C. Reports, p. 59.">[15]

THE SOUTHERN'S PLAN. The plan of the Southern Railway had been to pretend that it meant to build a railroad along this river, although it was well aware that the South and Western had already built such a road along the stream from Johnson City to Spruce Pine; and, by appealing to' the courts, to prevent the real road from changing its track from the east to the west bank of the river in order to obtain a better grade, which it had commenced to do in November, 1905, while the dummy corporation the Southern railway was using for this purpose had not been incorporated till December of the following year. Upon this the court said:

COURTS NOT TO BE USED TO PREVENT PROGRESS. "It is not of so much interest to the public which of two corporations build the road as it is that, by using the courts in the way suggested, they prevent either from doing so. If the course proposed by the 'Southern Railway' be permitted, the State has granted her franchise, with its sovereign power, to her own hindrance. If in creating two corporations she has conferred power upon both by which, through the instrumentality of her own courts, the building of railroads may be retarded, if not ultimately defeated, and her mountain fastnesses remain locked in their primitive isolation, the legislature may well consider whether some restriction should not be put upon corporations enjoying such power. If the course proposed by the 'Southern Railway' be permitted, railroad building may be 'tied up' indefinitely by repeatedly renewed condemnations, proceedings, contested until the end has been reached, and then withdrawn, only to be repeated in another form."<a href="#15" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 15

148 N. C. Reports, p. 59.">[15]

THE CAROLINA, CLINCHRFIELD AND OHIO The South and Western, also known as the "Three C's" but now the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio, was completed to Marion, in 1908. It is the best constructed railroad in the mountains, the grades and curvatures being far less than those of the Southern from Old Fort to Morristown. ALLEGED PEONAGE. During the time the heavy work on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge was being done, construction companies were given contracts for the building of certain sections of the line. Among these contractors was the Carolina Construction Company. Labor was hard to get, and in order to secure laborers this Construction Company paid the expenses of certain men to their camp. They worked half a day and slipped off, were followed, captured, returned to camp and imprisoned till nightfall, when they were taken out and severely whipped. The facts appear in Buckner V. South & Western Railway Co., 159 N. C., going up on appeal from Buncombe county. This was known as the "peonage case."

THE SNOW BIRD VALLEY RAILROAD. The Kanawha Hardwood Company, with that progressive and public spirited Virginian, J. Q. Barker, at its head, came in 1902 and constructed the Snow Bird Valley logging railroad for a distance of fifteen miles from Andrews over the Snow Bird mountains to the head of Snow Bird creek in 1907-08. The Cherokee Tanning and Extract Company began business in 1903, and the Andrews Lumber Company, under the management of Mr. H. R. Campbell, came in the spring of 1911, and have since completed fifteen miles of logging railroad of standard gauge into heavily timbered lands in Macon county on Chogah creek. This company has also built a saw mill near Andrews with a capacity of 80,000 feet a day.

EAST TENNESSEE AND WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA RAILROAD. This road was completed from Johnson City, Tenn., via Elizabethton to the Cranberry iron mines in 1882. It is a narrow gauge road. In 1900 or thereabout it was extended to Pinola or Saginaw, in what is now Avery county. This extension was paid for in coffee for a long time, funds being short, and was called the Arbuckle line. Its real name, however, is:

LINVILLE RIVER RAILROAI COMPANY, and was built by E. B. Camp, who owned a considerable body of timber near Saginaw, the company operating the road and saw mills being the Pinola Lumber and Trading Company. Both companies went into the hands of a receiver, however, and were bought in by Isaac T. Mann of Bramley, W. Va. He got the W. M. Ritter Lumber Company interested in it and both properties finally went to that company, including a very good inn, called the Pinola Inn. A majority of its stock was transferred to the Cranberry Iron and Coal Company in April, 1913 by the W. M. Ritter Lumber Company.

HENDERSONVILLE AND BREVARD RAILROAD. This road was built in 1894 by the late Tam C. McNeeley. Thos. S. Boswell was the engineer, and after it went into the hands of a receiver in 1897 he operated it as superintendent, when it was bought by J. F. Hays and associates, who afterwards organized

THE TRANSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY, and in 1900 extended the road to Rosman, N. C., a point ten miles southwest of Brevard. From there it was to have been constructed to Seneca, S. C., which would have given a shorter route south from Asheville by 35 miles; but the Southern Railway leased it and that put an end to that scheme. In 1903 this road, as the Transylvania railroad, was extended to Lake Toxaway, nine miles beyond Rosman, and it was in this year that the Toxaway Inn was built, the lake having been dammed in the same year, Thos. S. Boswell having been the engineer.

"The building of the Transylvania road and its extension resulted in the construction of the plant of the Toxaway Tanning Company at Rosman, N. C., in about 1901, as I recall. This has also resulted in the development of the Gloucester Lumber Company at that place; this concern is operating 20,000 acres on the western end of the Pisgah Forest tract of the Vanderbilt estate and have their mills located at Rosman, and carry on quite a large operation, with probably 20 miles of railroad. Also, at Rosman is located the plant of the Shaffer Lumber Company, and they have a line of railroad running to the south from Rosman and have quite a large operation with their mills located on their line of road. Also, the building of the Transylvania resulted in the location of the plant of the Brevard Tanning at Pisgah Forest, two miles northeast of Brevard which has had a very successful operation."<a href="#16" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 16

Letter of J. F. Hays to J. P. A., 1912.">[16]

THE ELKIN AND ALLEGHANY RAILROAD. The great drawback to Alleghany county has been the lack of a railroad. The legislature of 1907 authorized the State to furnish not less than 50 convicts for the purpose of constructing a railroad from Elkin to Sparta. The State took stock in this road to the amount of the work done by the convicts, and the work of grading was begun in the fall of 1907. In the early part of the year 1911 the directors, John T. Miles, Capt. Roth, H. G. Chatham, R. A. Doughton, A. H. Eller, C. C. Smoot, Henry Fries and others, succeeded in interesting John A. Mills in this enterprise, and he helped to procure the financial aid. And now the railroad has every appearance of being rapidly pushed to completion. The train is now running to the foot of the mountain, nearly halfway to Sparta.

THE PIGEON RIVER RAILROAD. This was one of the first enterprises planned by the Champion Fiber Company; but it decided that a flume from Sunburst to Canton would be cheaper and answer its purposes as well as a railroad. This proved impracticable, on account of difficulties in securing rights of way; and a railroad was commenced a few years ago, of standard gauge, and it is now completed.

GEORGIA AND NORTH CAROLINA RAILROAD. The Georgia and North Carolina railroad, from Marietta, Georgia, to Murphy (ch. 167, Laws 0œ 1870-71) was the first railroad to run into Cherokee, and the late Mercer Fain was its first president and was the most active in its construction. It reached Murphy in 1888, and at first was a narrow gauge. It was afterwards absorbed by the Marietta and North Georgia railroad, which extended it from Blue Ridge, Georgia, to Knoxville, leaving the Murphy end a mere branch. It was originally intended that this road should go down the Hiwassee and Tennessee rivers to Chattanooga, but others had already obtained a charter for a road by that route which they refused to surrender or assign except upon prohibitive terms. Hence the route via Blue Ridge was adopted. The dog-in-the-manger policy has thus prevented a road down the Hiwassee river and has not produced any benefit to those who not only would not build themselves but would not allow others to do so.

THE APPALACHIAN RAILROAD. There is also a short railroad which leaves the Murphy branch about five miles east of Bryson City and runs a short distance up Ocona Lufty creek.

TALLULAH FALLS AND FRANKLIN RAILROAD. This road was completed from Cornelia, in Georgia, via Tallulah Falls and Rabun Gap to Franklin, in 1908. It affords an outlet for a large section of this region, and practically makes the whole of Macon county tributary to Georgia. If the Southern Railway would complete the link between Franklin and Almond, and down the Little Tennessee river from Bushnel to Maryville, Tenn., Franklin would have two other outlets, one into our own State via Asheville, and into Tennessee via Bushnel and Murphy.<a href="#17" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 17

The Southern's line has been extended from Bushnel to Eagle creek on the Little Tennessee, sixteen miles; but it is used principally for hauling lumber. The scenery is unsurpassed.">[17] This is more of the dog-in-the-manger spirit.

THE DAMASCUS LUMBER COMPANY RAILROAD. In 1902 the Hemlock Extract Company, D. K. Stouffer, manager, was built, and several years afterwards the Damascus Lumber Company built a narrow gauge railroad from Laurel Bloomery in Tennessee, on the Laurel Railway Company's line, over the Cut Laurel gap. It is operated exclusively as a logging road, but the grade generally, is good enough for a standard road, and there is no reason why it should not be electrified and operated as it is for freight and passengers. Its terminus at Hemlock is only 19 miles from Jefferson, the county seat of Ashe county, the grade down Laurel creek to the North Fork of the New river is good, and the road should be extended to Jefferson at least, the principal barrier to mountain roads having been overcome in the passage of the Cut Laurel gap.

THE TENNESSEE AND NORTH CAROLINA RAILROAD was completed to the mouth of Big creek on the Pigeon river about 1897, and then extended two miles up to Mount Sterling post office, where there has been a large saw mill plant since about 1900. The design is to complete this line up the Pigeon to Canton at least; and ultimately up the Pigeon to Sunburst, and thence into Transylvania county. Should it get as far as the mouth of Cataloochee creek it will have tapped the finest body of virgin hardwood timber left in the mountains.

ASHEVILLE AND CRAGGY MOUNTAIN RAILWAY. On March 29, 1901, the city of Asheville authorized the Craggy Railway Company to transfer its rights over Charlotte street to the reorganized Asheville Street Railroad Company. Mr. R. S. Howland operated this road to Overlook Park, on Sunset Mountain, several summers; but, by September, 1904, he had demonstrated to his own satisfaction that it could not be made to pay. In that month it was torn up and the rails and ties used to build a track from the Golf Club to Grace and thence to the French Broad river at Craggy Station on the Southern Railway, and the Weaver Power Company plant and dam, then but recently erected, and to the factory of the William Whittam Textile Company, which had been incorporated February 1, 1902. He also built a trestle across the French Broad river to the opposite bank, where the Southern Railway established a station called Craggy.

QUARRY. Meantime, however, not losing sight of the objective point of the Craggy Railway Company, Mr. Howland graded a roadbed and laid a track for a steam railroad from the new Music Hall at Overlook Park, to Locust Gap, a distance of about two miles, and opened a new quarry about a quarter of a mile from the Music Hall, with a track ex- tending down to it. He also leased a part of the old James M. Smith property, in rear of the present Langren Hotel, where he established bins, and from which he sold all sorts of stone, bringing it down the mountain by a steam dummy engine, and hauling it through the streets of Asheville with a large electric motor engine. The ties and rails on the track to Locust Gap and to the new quarry were also taken up and placed on the railroad leading to Grace and Craggy Station. He also graded a traction road from near Locust Gap through the lands of J. W. Shartle, C. A. Webb and others to Craven Gap at the head of Beaver Dam creek, and thence to within half a mile of Bull Gap at the head of Ox creek on the North and Bull creek on the south. This road is to form a part of the projected automobile road from Asheville via Mitchell's Peak, and thence along the crest of the Blue Ridge to Blowing Rock. During this time Mr. Howland experimented with steam traction engines; but they were not satisfactory for the mountain roads.

ASHEVILLE LOOP LINE RAILWAY. Mr. Howland operated the railroad down to Craggy Station and to the Elk Mountain Cotton Mill till April, 1906, when he sold that portion of the railroad between New Bridge on the Burnsville road and Craggy Station to the Southern Railway, but continued to run cars from the Golf Club to New Bridge. The sale of the lower portion of this railroad also carried with it the corporate rights, etc., of the Asheville and Craggy Mountain Railroad Company, and it then became necessary to organize the Asheville Loop Line Railway to operate what was left of the Craggy Mountain Railway. This company, during the summer of 1906, leased from the Southern Railway that portion of the railway between New Bridge and Craggy Station and operated the entire line from the Golf Club to the river. The water impounded by the Weaver Power Company dam was called Lake Tahkeeostee, and proved quite an attraction to summer visitors who were in Asheville in great numbers during the season. The railroad paid a slight profit.

ASHEVILLE RAPID TRANSIT RAILROAD. During the fall of 1906 Messrs. Culver and Whittlesey, attorneys, and Mr. R. H. Tingley, civil engineer, of New York City, got control of the Loop Line railroad and determined to rebuild the track to the Music Hall on Sunset mountain. To do this they formed a new corporation called the Asheville Rapid Transit Company, December 18, 1906, and in March of 1907 obtained a franchise to build an electric railway from the corner of Water street and Patton avenue across North Main street, and thence along Merrimon avenue to a point near the Manor, and thence over private property to the Golf Club. In order to secure this concession from the city they deposited $1,000, to be forfeited in case they did not commence to build the railway into town by the following September and complete it within a few months thereafter.

MERRIMON AVENUE LINE. These gentlemen secured enough money to reconstruct the track up the mountain to the Music Hall, which was in full operation by July 4, 1907, on which day two thousand passengers were transported over the new road. They continued to operate the road during the summer and opened a restaurant and moving picture show at Overlook Park. But the money they had expected to borrow for the completion of the railway into the city via Merrimon avenue could not be obtained, and they abandoned the enterprise, turning the property back to Mr. R. S. Howland in the spring of 1908. As there were several local debts due by the company the board of aldermen very considerable returned the $1,000 which had been deposited as a forfeit, upon the abandonment and release by the company of all rights on the streets, on condition be so applied. In June, 1908, Mr. R. S. Howland took charge of the company again; but the company not having paid the Asheville Electric Company for the power which had been furnished for some time previous the latter company refused to supply electric current for the operation of cars to Sunset mountain. An arrangement, however, was soon afterwards made for power to operate the cars from the Golf Club to New Bridge and this continued to be done till August 27, when the Rapid Transit Company was placed in the hands of a receiver. It was sold in December, 1908, to R. S. Howland and associates for $25,000. By an arrangement between Messrs. LaBarbe, Moale & Chiles and R. S. Howland the latter was to have the roadbed from the Golf Club to New Bridge and certain other property, and the former the track up the mountain and ten acres around Music Hall. This led to some litigation between these parties, which, however, was adjusted in 1911.

EAST TENNESSEE AND NORTH CAROLINA RAILROAD. During 1909 R. S. Howland built a trolley railroad from New Bridge to Weaverville, thus giving a continuous line from Grace to Weaverville. By a subsequent agreement with the Asheville Electric Company and the Asheville and East Tennessee Railroad Company, as this Weaverville railway company is called; under its charter, the latter has the right to operate its cars over the track of the former from Grace to Pack Square. This line passes over Merrimon avenue under a franchise granted the Asheville Electric Company by the city soon after its rights over that avenue had been abandoned by the Rapid Transit Company. Both the Merrimon Avenue line in the city and the railway from Grace to Weaversville have proven great conveniences to the public.

SUNSET MOUNTAIN RAILWAY COMPANY. Under this name LaBarbe, Moale and Chiles operated the road up Sunset mountain to Music Hall during the summer of 1910, but soon sold it to the E. W. Grove Park Company, who also bought about 300 acres on Sunset mountain from the Howlands. The track has been removed and the roadbed converted into an automobile road.

THE HIWASSEE VALLEY RAILROAD. In 1913 Clay and Cherokee counties each voted $75,000 for the construction of a railroad from Andrews via Marble down the Hiwassee river to Hayesville, crossing Peach Tree and Hiwassee at the Clay county line. It will be 35 miles long, standard gauge, etc., and will be operated by electricity from a power plant to be erected on Hiwassee river. A question has arisen as to the legality of the vote, and the company is now enjoined from proceeding further in securing aid from either county. J. Q. Barker is president, and Samuel Cover, treasurer, and D. S. Russell, secretary.

BETTER THAN RAISING CORN AND COTTON. If Ashe, Clay, Graham, and Watauga counties, four of the richest counties in the mountains naturally, had railroads the enhanced value of their property would give the State a larger and more constant revenue from taxation than she now derives from the raising of uncertain crops of cotton and corn on the State farms by working her convicts in that malarious section of the State. If these convicts were taken to the healthful and invigorating climate of the mountains and put to work grading railroads, for their support in provisions alone, it would not be long before every county west of the Blue Ridge would be adequately served with an outlet for their crops, lumber and minerals, while new health and pleasure resorts would be opened up for summer tourists and health seekers.

Ashe is less known than any mountain county, but it is the finest of them all, agriculturally and in minerals and water power. Yet in the decade between 1900 and 1910 its population decreased from 19,581 to 19,074. Clay's population fell from 4,532 in 1900 to 3,909. Yet the lands of Clay are rich and productive and its jail is empty nine-tenths of the time. Watauga, which in many respects is unsurpassed, gained only a little over one hundred inhabitants in the same period. These three fine counties are really retrograding for want of railroads. If the increase in population and wealth of Buncombe in 1880, before railroads reached its borders, compared with its population and wealth in 1913, is an index of what railroads accomplish for communities, it will be evident that the convicts could be more advantageously employed in the mountains building wagon- and railroads than in raising precarious crops of cotton and corn near Weldon.

The territory that in 1911 was erected into the county of Avery is more mountainous and was formerly more inaccessible than any other part of the mountains. Yet having a railroad, it gained nearly 2,000 in population in the last ten years.

OTHER RAILROADS. In November, 1912, the county of Watauga by a large majority voted $100,000 toward the construction of a railroad through Cook's Gap, Boone and down the Watauga river, and the State has since provided thirty convicts for work thereon. Work has already begun. The Virginia - Carolina Railway obtained from the Legislature of North Carolina in 1911, authority to construct a railroad from its line in Grayson and Washington counties, Virginia, into the counties of Ashe and Watauga, and in June, 1913, let the entire line to the Callahan Construction Company, from Konarok, Va., via Jefferson to Todd, or Elk Cross Roads; all grading to be completed by July, 1914. That the link between Canton and the mouth of Big creek, near Mount Sterling post office, will be built shortly seems probable, as the line has only to follow the Pigeon river to complete this link, thus opening up a large boundary of timber and acid wood and bark in the Cataloochee valley. There is also hope that a railroad will be built from Saginaw (Pinola) to Mortimer or Collettsville. A lumber road from Black Mountain station to Mitchell's peak is being constructed rapidly.

THE BLATHERSKITE RAILROAD. This road has been building (in the newspapers) for ten years or more, but never hauls any freight or passengers. It is quiescent until there is talk of a bona fide railroad, and then it develops a state of activity and construction (still in the newspapers) wherever it is proposed to locate such new railway.


  1. From Asheville's Centenary
  2. Hill's, p. 259.
  3. Col. Wm. H. Thomas was more active in securing this amendment than anyone else.
  4. Harrison's Legal History of the Lines of the Southern Railway.
  5. Under the act incorporating the Western North Carolina R. R., commissioners were appointed to take subscriptions to the capital stock in Salisbury, Lincolnton, Newton, Statesville, Hcndersonville, Lenoir, Boone, Taylorsville, Morganton, Marion, Rutherfordton, Shelby, Mocksville, and Asheville. The act provided for the construction of a railroad to effect a communication between the North Carolina R. R. and the Valley of the Mississippi, no route being specified.
  6. Shipp Fraud Com. Rep., pp. 250 and 307.
  7. Wm. A. Eliason Testimony, Shipp Fraud Com., p. 357.
  8. J. W. Wilson before Shipp Fraud Commission, p. 365.
  9. Harrison's "Legal History of the Lines of the Southern Railway."
  10. Fairfax Harrison's "Legal History of the Lines of the Southern Railway."
  11. Letter from Col. A. B. Andrews to J. P. A., July, 1912.
  12. Fairfax Harrison's "Legal History of the Lines of the Southern Railway."
  13. Letter from Col. A. B. Andrews to J. P. A., July, 1912.
  14. These dates are from letters from Col. A. B. Andrews to J. P. A., dated July 19 and 21, 1913.
  15. 148 N. C. Reports, p. 59.
  16. Letter of J. F. Hays to J. P. A., 1912.
  17. The Southern's line has been extended from Bushnel to Eagle creek on the Little Tennessee, sixteen miles; but it is used principally for hauling lumber. The scenery is unsurpassed.