THE FIRST CENTURY
Beginning at the Cape Fear River boat docks in Fayetteville, the line was built by the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad to the South Carolina state line near McColl, SC, in 1883-1885. The CF&YV leased track from McColl to Bennettsville where it connected with other railroads. In the mid-1890’s the CF&YV became financially insolvent and was sold. Our track became Atlantic Coast Line’s (ACL’s) ‘Bennettsville Branch’ in 1898.
The track was operated by ACL, then Seaboard Coast Line after the 1967 merger of ACL and Seaboard Air Line railroads to form Seaboard Coast Line. Much of the track from Red Springs to McColl was removed in 1973.
CSX became the owner in 1984, but abandoned it as there were only two, low-volume rail customers left. The Advancement Corporation, a regional economic development board bought the line, named it Red Springs and Northern Railroad and contracted with Laurinburg and Southern Railroad to operate it as needed. Freight service continued until a bridge was destroyed by fire in 1990. By the time the bridge was replaced, the rail customers were gone.
– A NEW BEGINNING –
Members of Railcar Operators of the Carolinas noticed the dormant rail line in 1998, and were given permission to operate track motorcars and perform needed right-of-way maintenance. Community leaders along the RS&N corridor noticed the Railcar Operators of the Carolinas enjoying recreational railroading in their communities, and several joined in. They soon envisioned a rebirth of freight traffic if new customers could be found to locate here. Advancement Corporation was more focused on promoting new rail business sites along the two major CSX routes in the region
The Red Springs and Northern Railroad Foundation, a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation, was organized in 2001 to raise funds for railroad rehabilitation and purchase of the property in 2004. The Red Springs and Northern Railroad Foundation owns the RS&N Railroad and controls all activities there. We invite you to join our foundation and participate in our railroad work and fun.
– RAILROAD ACTIVITIES –
Old railroads always need maintenance. Vegetation control and cross tie replacement are ongoing chores. We have on-rail spray and brush cutting equipment, as well as a tie inserter and hydraulic spike-driving machine. Our roster consists of two Fairmont heavy gang motorcars, an A4, and an A6, and several trailer cars. Most of the trailer cars are fitted with seats for passenger service, with a second one having recently been rebuilt, fitted with a safety harness for passengers, and painted.
Our motorcar passenger train is used for both fundraising and public service activities. We ride groups of school children and teach grade crossing safety by coordinating with Operation Lifesaver. We have hosted a museum youth group, and assisted local Boy Scouts in obtaining their Railroad Merit Badge this past March, 2015. Our train has been used for family reunion outings, excursions for the Intracoastal Model Railroad Club and the youth group of Trinity United Methodist Church of Red Springs, and, for several years, we have held the Halloween ‘Fright Train’ at Parkton, a ‘Rails to Christmas’ train at Red Springs, and town celebration trains at Parkton, Red Springs, and Shannon. We display motorcars and give rides at the North Carolina Transportation Museum, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, and Clinton Terminal Railroad.
Our activities stay in perpetual motion, as we are always seeking new ways to serve the community and provide recreational experiences. If you want to see what an enthusiastic, motivated and talented group of people look like, come visit us and plan on spending some time. You’ll be so glad you did, you’ll want to become part of the RS&N, too!!
(Click on pictures to enlarge.)