Southeastern Regional Railroads - 1930's - 1940's
Carolina & Nortthwestern Railway


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The Carolina & Northwestern Railway (Ca&NW was a regional short line railroad which operated a single track main line from Chester, South Carolina to Lenoir, North Carolina, 110 miles. Its earliest predecessor was the Kings Mountain Railway constructed from Chester to York, 23 miles, before the Civil War. The KM was destroyed during the war. In 1873 the Chester & Lenoir Railway was formed and used the KM right of way and built a narrow gauge line northward to Lenoir with help from the Richmond and Danvuille (Southern). The C&L emerged from bankruptcy in 1897 as the Carolina & Northwestern Railway and was standard gauged by 1902. At the time, it was hoped that a line could be built from Lenoir to Boone and then to a connection with the "Virginia Creeper", thus allowing coal from the Appalachian coal fields to move south over the line. The expansion never was completed, and the Clinchfield ended up making the desired penetration of the Blue Ridge to tap into the coal traffic. By way of the lease by and affiliation with the Richmond & Danville, the Southern Railway had a controlling interest in the Ca&NW, which affectionately became known as the "Can't & Never Will". The Ca&NW was run as a separate operating unit of the Southern.
In the 30's and 40's period it connected with the Southern Railway at several points on its line and with the Seaboard Railway as well. At Lenoir it connected with the Blowing Rock Stage lines. In 1943 the Ca&NW was operating one passenger train a day between Chester and Lenoir.
History of the Carolina & Northwestern Railway
1848 - Kings Mountain Railroad chartered by NC & SC.
1850's - The broad gauge Kings Mountain Railroad built between Chester and Yorkville (York), South Carolina, 23 miles, in the 1850s.
1861-65 - This line was completely wrecked in the Civil War and was abandoned after the war.
1873 - The Chester & Lenoir Narrow Gauge Railroad was chartered to build from Chester, SC to Lenoir, NC, using the former Kings Mountain right of way between Chester and York.
1875 - The C&L started out of Chester and reached York in 1875.
1876 - The line was extended north to Gastonia, NC by 1876.
1884 - The C&L reached Lenoir with the help of the Richmond & Danville in 1884.
1893 - In December the C&L went into receivership.
1897 - The C&L was reorganized in 1897 as the Carolina & Northwestern Railway.
1902 - The line was standard gauged.
1910 - The Caldwell and Northern Railroad Company is sold to the Ca&NW/. The C&N was formerly the Lower Creek and Linville Valley

Carolina & Northwestern
May 11, 1941

Carolina & Northwestern
Transportation Company which was chartered in North Carolina in 1891 and in 1893 name changed to C&N. The plans to complete north to the coal fields never materialized.
early 1940s - The Ca&NW was operating one train a day except Sundays between Chester and Lenoir.
1950 - By 1950 the Ca&NW had discontinued passenger service and was "freight service only".
cir 1970 - The section of the Ca&NW between Chester and York was abandoned around 1970.
early 1980s - The section from York to Clover was abandoned.
late 1980s - The line had been abandoned all the way to the NC state line, near Bowlin.
Current - Towns on the line from Chester are Airlee, Dinber, Lowrys, McConnells, Guthries, Delphina, York, Filbert, Clover and to Bowlin at the NC state line. The Right of way generally follows US 321, and can be made out in many places. The Southern depot in York still exists along with a flag signal. Looking south in McConnells, the former C&NW Right of way can be seen along US 321. This section between Chester and York was abandoned around 1970, and is hard to make out in some areas.
Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- various editions
http://abandonedrailroads.homestead.com/sc_cnr.html
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, June 29, 2009. revised April 22, 2011