Richmond and Danville Railroad was chartered in
Virginia in the
States in 1847. The portion between Richmond and Danville, Virginia was completed in 1856.
1882 map with connections
The railroad was only
long during the American Civil
but it played a vital role in linking Richmond to the rest
of the Confederacy.
After the war, it grew to become the Richmond and Danville Railroad
System, eventually covering 3,300 miles (5,300 km) in 9
states. In 1894, the R&D became part of the Southern Railway
. In 1990, it became
part of today's Norfolk
The new railroad was championed by Whitmell P. Tunstall, a lawyer in Chatham, Virginia who was also a member of the Virginia General
Construction on the 140-mile (225 km)
long line began in 1849 under the supervision of Col. Andrew Talcott
, who was later to become the
R&D's general manager. By 1850, the new railroad had reached
Station, near the coal mines in an area known today as
Midlothian in western Chesterfield County.
There, it competed with the mule-powered
Lawsuits followed, but the older railroad, the first in Virginia,
was quickly supplanted by the competition.
By the end
of 1851, the new line had reached Jetersville in Amelia
County. Two years later, it was completed to a point
Branch, and had been graded to South
Boston in Halifax County.
Serving in the US Civil War
Known as the "first railroad war," the American Civil War
(1861-1865) left the
South's railroads and economy devastated. In 1862, the Richmond and York River
played a crucial role in George McClellan
's Peninsula Campaign
. After the war, it was
to be acquired by the Richmond and Danville Railroad.
The Richmond and Danville Railroad was an essential transportation
link for the Confederacy
provided the production of south-central Virginia to Richmond.
When the Richmond and Petersburg
was cut in 1864, the R&D's connection with the
was the only
remaining connection from Richmond to the rest of the South.
During the Civil War, the Confederate
was handicapped by a lack of supplies when there often
were plenty of supplies in the depots, but the quartermaster corps
of the southern army was unable to deliver the goods efficiently.
case, however, the war finally forced the states-rights Confederate
government to over-rule objections by North Carolina. That state had blocked construction of a rail
connection from Greensboro to Danville, fearing that after the war trade from
North Carolina's Piedmont would continue to flow to Richmond via
Following successful Union attacks on April
, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee decided to
abandon Petersburg and head west and south in an attempt to join
Gen. Joseph Johnston
army in North Carolina.
After evacuating Richmond the next day, on April
, Confederate President Jefferson Davis
and his cabinet left
Richmond on the R&D. The departing Confederates set fire to the
bridge across the James River between Richmond and Manchester.
They traveled to Danville, where they
attempted to set up a temporary government.
On reaching Amelia Courthouse during the morning of April 4
, Lee's first
thought was for the commissary stores. He found ordnance supplies
in abundance, but no food. Lee waited 24 hours in vain there for
R&D trains to arrive with badly needed supplies. Union
cavalry, meanwhile, sped
forward and cut the Richmond & Danville at Jetersville
. Lee had to abandon the
railroad, and his army stumbled across rolling country towards
Lynchburg. On the morning of April
9, 1865, "Palm Sunday", Lee met Grant in
the front parlor of Wilmer McLean's
home near Appomattox Court House to surrender.
Reconstruction, Richmond & Danville Railroad System
Buford builds the R&D System 1865-1892
With the support of Virginia Governor Francis H. Pierpont
, on September 13
Algernon S. Buford
became president of the Richmond
and Danville Railroad (R&D). Damage from the war, including the bridge
across the James River
between Manchester and Richmond was repaired.
Over the next 20 years, as R&D President, Buford and leaders
including Richmonder James H.
extended the trackage to
three thousand miles. The R&D's early acquisitions included the
in 1866, and the
North Carolina Railroad
the R&D System covered of track in Virginia, North
Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas.
However, the R&D System had become financially unstable during
all the growth.
Southern Railway System 1894; Norfolk Southern 1982
In 1892, the R&D and subsidiaries entered receivership.
Reorganized by J.P. Morgan
and his New York banking firm of Drexel,
Morgan and Company, they emerged in 1894 as the Southern Railway Company
controlled over of line at its inception. Samuel Spencer
Southern's first president.
In 1980, the Southern Railway became part of today's Norfolk Southern Railway