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By the
1890’s North Carolina’s railroad network covered most of the state.
It provided faster
and more comfortable travel to and from the region and helped expand tourism.
It also offered an easier and more affordable means of transporting goods to
and from the area.
The Spartanburg
& Asheville Railroad reached Hendersonville by June 1879. Reorganized as
the Asheville & Spartanburg Railroad in 1881 the line to Asheville opened
July 13, 1886.  In 1895 it became part of
Southern Railway’s Carolina Division.

Short line railroads served small towns off the main carrier lines.
Hendersonville &
Brevard Railway, Telegraph & Telephone was chartered in 1891. Construction of
the standard gauge rail line did not begin until the Spring of 1895 but moved
quickly with the official opening on October 25, 1895.  It included over 21 miles on the main line
with two steel bridges, one 100-feet in length and the other 60-feet in length.
 The company had 23 employees and owned a
locomotive, two passenger cars, three box cars and a flat car. 

Built in 1886 for the Knoxville & Ohio Railroad this locomotive operated

as Southern Railways’ #167 after Southern absorbed the K&O in 1894.

It was used for nearly 40 additional years.

The
arrival of rail service led to a boom in growth and tourism in Brevard. The
first eight months of operation saw 8,204 passengers.  Passenger revenue was $2,627 and freight
revenue $2,268. 

Unfortunately,
debt caused problems from the beginning though and within a short time H&B
was in receivership and then sold to court appointed Trustees.  In 1899 the Toxaway Company purchased it for
$54,450 and reorganized as the Transylvania Railroad Company.  They extended the rail line 9.5 miles to
Rosman in 1901 and an additional 10.7 miles to Lake Toxaway by June 1903.  In 1906 the rail line was leased to Southern
Railway’s Carolina Division, who later purchased it.  In 1982 Southern merged with Norfolk &
Western to become Norfolk Southern Corporation.

Two books
recently donated to the Transylvania County Library provided the information
for this article. “150 Years of Common Carrier Railroads in North Carolina” provides
brief details of railroads throughout the state.  “Hendersonville & Brevard Railroad 1891-1899;
Transylvania Railroad 1899-1905; Southern Railway-Carolina Division 1906-1990” is
a twelve-page pamphlet compiling information from various publication
concerning the short line from Hendersonville to Lake Toxaway.  Both books, compiled by Garreth M. McDonald, are
available in the North Carolina reference collection on the second floor.

Two
additional books compiled by McDonald contain listings of North Carolina’s
industrial and narrow gauge railroads.

Photographs
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library
hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional
photographs. For more information, comments, or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected]
or 828-884-1820.

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(828) 884-3151

212 S Gaston St, Brevard, NC 28712