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Virginia & Tennessee Railroad

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(The following is based on an article originally published online at: NewRiverVA.com)


The Virginia & Tennessee Railroad (V&T) was chartered in 1849 to build a rail line from Lynchburg, Virginia to the Tennessee state line at Bristol. The idea of a railroad through Southwestern Virginia had been around for some years previous, but had meet with little success. In 1835, the citizens of Lynchburg petitioned the Virginia Legislature to incorporate the Lynchburg & Tennessee Railroad, which was to follow basically the same route as the V&T.

Construction of the V&T route began in January of 1850, and by the end of 1852, the railroad had established Union Station in Lynchburg and the line had been completed as far west as Big Lick (present-day Roanoke/Salem area). By the end of 1854, the V&T had completed its line as far west as Wytheville. On October 1, 1856, the V&T line was completed to Bristol, VA, a distance of 204 miles from Lynchburg. That same year, a branch line of about 9.5 miles was completed from the mainline, at Glade Spring Depot, to the salt works at Saltville, VA.

The completion of the V&T line had a profound effect on the economy of the region of Southwestern Virginia. Rather than raising crops primarily for local consumption, the farmers of the region began selling their products to the cities in Virginia's Tidewater Region. Tobacco production increased by 2020 percent in Southwestern Virginia between 1850 and 1860. Various manufacturing and extractive industries soon opened online the route the railroad's route and the tourism business flourished throughout the region.

The June 12, 1861 edition of American Railway Journal indicated that as of Sept. 30, 1859, the V&T had: 204.2 miles of mainline trackage; 10.7 miles of branch line trackage; 36 locomotives; 12 passenger cars; and 385 freight cars.

During the American Civil War (1861-1865) the V&T served as a vital transportation link for the Confederacy, hauling troops, weapons and supplies. Food, livestock, salt, lead, iron ore, copper and coal were among the products shipped in support of the Southern cause. Efforts by Federals troops to destroy the Confederate's rail line through Southwestern Virginia were unsuccessful until late in the war.

The railroad's annual report for the year ending June 30, 1865, noted that six different raids had been conducted on the rail line by Union forces, each of which had resulted in the destruction of the road for considerable distances. Of its original structures the V&T had only three bridges and three depots left untouched. Despite the destruction, the V&T line was reopened following the end of the war. In 1870, the V&T, along with the City Point Railroad and Norfolk & Petersburg Railroad were consolidated into the Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio Railroad (AM&O). In 1882, the AM&O was renamed the Norfolk & Western Railroad (N&W).

Annual Reports

Virginia & Tennessee Railroad

Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, Annual Report 1850

Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, Annual Report 1851

Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, Annual Report 1853

Virginian & Tennessee Railroad, Annual Report 1861

Virginian & Tennessee Railroad, Annual Report 1867

Virginian & Tennessee Railroad, Annual Report 1868

Virginian & Tennessee Railroad, Annual Report 1869

Virginian & Tennessee Railroad, Annual Report 1870

Virginian & Tennessee Railroad, Annual Report 1871*

Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio Railroad

Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio Railroad, Annual Report 1874

Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio Railroad, Receivers Report 1878

Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio Railroad, Receivers Report 1879

Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio Railroad, Receivers Report 1880

Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio Railroad, Receivers Report 1881

Norfolk & Western

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1883

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1884

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1885

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1886

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1887

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1889

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1890

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1891

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1897

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1898

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1899

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1900

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1901

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1902

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1903

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1904

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1905

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1906

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1907

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1908

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1909

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1910

Norfolk & Western, Annual Report 1911