Something a little different today - a brief history of the Piedmont and Northern Railway, of North and South Carolina.
Our story begins in 1910 with two seperate railroads, the Piedmont Traction Company and the Greenville, Spartanburg, & Anderson Railway.
The PTC was a street railway serving the locales of Charlotte, Gastonia, and Mt. Holly, in NC. The GSA served Spartanburg, Belton, Greenwood, and Anderson, all in SC.
While these railways were operating, a major character comes on the scene; William States Lee. In 1909, Lee, then Vice-President of Southern Power and Utilities (which became Duke Power/Energy) proposes an "electrically powered interurban railway system linking the major cities of the Piedmont Carolinas". SPU's Pesident, James B. Duke, accepted this proposal, as this idea was very popular and widespread during this period, as personal automobiles and trucking were still in their infancy, so mass rapid transit over medium to short distances, along with freight operations within cities and to outlying areas, meant that such lines were superb options for the time and needs.
Also, as interurbans were all electric, and seeing as SPU had a monopoly on electricity even this early in the area, this certainly played a part in the positive acceptance of the idea from SPU leadership.
SPU owned Charlotte Electric Railway, which was the city's streetcar system, at this time, which meant they had experience with the concept.
They went forward with planning and contruction, starting with two seperate lines; the 21-mile Charlotte to Gastonia, NC line, and the 98-mile Greenwood to Spartanburg, SC line. These lines were not linked, but plans existed to eventually do so - this however was contested by the Southern Railway, which preceded to challenge the link with an appeal to the ICC, and thus the connection was blocked. President Duke had originally wanted a seamless system stretching from Durham, NC to Greenwood, SC, though this never came to fruition. The line, which stretched 128 miles at its greatest extent, was powered by 1500 volts DC power.
From 1911 the P&N operated with reasonable success, with the years preceding World War 2, and the war years, being particularly profitable, as was the case with many railroads.
Entering the 1950's, things started to slump - In 1950 diesels were added, mostly ALCo models, and soon took over the railway, resulting in the electric lines coming down in 1954, because they were deemed too expensive to maintain. Passenger service was discontinued in 1951, though freight continued to roll. In 1964 the railroad enjoyed connections with many railroads - Clinchfield, Carolina & Northwestern, Georgia & Florida, the orginal Norfolk Southern, Seaboard Air Line, Atlantic Coast Line, Greenville & Northern, Charleston & Western Carolina, and Ware Shoals Railroad.
The P&N trundled onwards, but eventually, like most railroads at the time, it was merged, specifically becoming part of Seaboard Coast Line (itself a result of a merger between 2 roads mentioned above, SAL and ACL) in 1969.
Over the years mergers happened, with SCL eventually coming under the CSX banner, and segments of the P&N being abandoned and removed, with some still being in service - CSX operates some, as well as Jaguar Transport Holdings (as the Charlotte Western Railroad).
Well, that's the short version of the P&N story - I hope you enjoyed, and thanks for reading!