ACL beltline around Halifax, North Carolina : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

Is anyone familiar with what appears to be a "beltline" around Halifax, North Carolina. If you look at area images on, it appears that there was at one time a right-away that departed off the current mainline and took a more direct route south by Halifax before rejoining the mainline. It looks as if there was also a diamond in place to allow for movement onto the Scotland Neck Branch. From the air, the right-away is very visible. I am interested to learn of action on this line and why it is not in use today. It is obviously a more direct route than the current main line.

-- Van Welton (, July 31, 2000


The land(right of way) you mentioned was graded and cleared in 1959- 60 to use this cut off as a 2 fold project. There was to have been a Paper Mill built off of the Pender Sub about a mile from the switch at Pender and would have made extra switching in Halifax, involving tracks and delaying other trains. The cut off would have eliminated the need for blocking highway traffic in Halifax, and would have used the existing tracks for storage and holding for the mill. The cut off would also allow the coast line to utilize a straigter alignment and would eliminate 2 left hand curves and a grade crossing. This was all negated when the paper mill decided not to build in that location. The right of way was clear and was used by different groups for riding, biking, and just a road unbuilt for many years until the trees took over completely. The bridge over Quankie Creek would have been built and if so would have survived Floyd because the existing tracks used the fill over Quankie Creek which blew out when the fill became a dam during the storm. It now has a bridge over it. This fill was redone in 1940 when a flood from rains washed out the very same creek and railroad and US 301 bridge.


-- Larry Denton (, September 21, 2000.

With regard to Doug Riddell's answer to the above, the ICC issued an order dated June 17, 1947 which required automatic train stop, cab signal, or a train control system for operations greater than 80 mph. This order affected the ACL between Florence and Jacksonville. The line north of Florence already had a speed control system in place, as a result of a 1920's ICC order requiring that at least one division of each major passenger carrying railroad be equipped with an automatic train stop, cab signal or train control system.

As for running at speeds higher than authorized in the timetable, the ICC criticized the ACL in at least one of its accident reports-the one at Fleming GA 1953, for permitting at least 25% of its trains to operate at speeds higher than 79 mph for extended periods of time. The ACL train involved in the Fleming accident, the "Miamian", was operating at 96 mph despite the official speed limit of 79 mph. The ACL did install a train stop system south of Florence , and it was completed in 1955, thus permitting legal 90 mph and for a short period of time, 100 mph operation. Higher speed operation was limited to roller bearing equipped equipment.

The answer may indeed be due to a desire to eliminate a speed restriction due to a curve, but the reason why it did not take place is probably due to other, more pressing( i.e. economic) reasons- taxes, higher than budgeted costs, a recession, ????

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, August 04, 2000.

The acquired right of way from [what is now the end of double track at] MP A 89 to approximately MP A 92 was intended to do away with the 70 MPH speed imposed on the existing right of way in the late 1950s. At that time, (according to ACL Northern Division employee time table #1, 4/27/52) there was a [legal] speed limit of 90 MPH for E or FP7 diesel powered passenger trains, so this represented an increase of 20 MPH for several miles in an age when speed actually counted in figuring a schedule (and when engineers often received little or no criticism for "judiciouis running" in order to make up lost time.) I can't remember the date (I believe it was also in the early or mid 1950s) that the government stepped in and imposed a lower speed, 80 MPH (79 MPH if the line was not equipped with an approved type of train control and/or cab signal system.) At that point, it made little sense to spend all that money to increase the speed only 10 MPH, and logically contributed to the ACL's decision to eventully get rid of its automatic train stop system. After all, they could only run ONE MPH faster WITH it (80 MPH), than they could WITHOUT it (79 MPH). I was told that the right of way had been cleared and rail actually distributed before the project was abandoned. Imagine my surprise a couple of years ago when I came north on the Silver Star and saw a swatch cut through the woods ahead of me. Knowing that the ACL had once almost relocated the track, I thought that CSX was finally going to make use of the land. The local roadmaster snuffed out my dreams when he told me that the land had been sold, and that the buyers were clearing it for timber. I wish I could be more specific about dates. What I've mentioned was passed down to me during the years when I entered engine service there and hostled in the late 1970s.

-- Doug Riddell (, August 02, 2000.

Hi Van, I know exactly what you are talking about. There is an old ACL right-of-way purchase that cuts to the inside (sort of to the west) of the sharp curve in Halifax, NC. It is my understanding that ACL bought and marked it in the 1940's to realign and straighten the Halifax curve for higher speeds. It was never constructed. However, right before Hurricane Fran, someone (presumably CSX) had the right- of-way cleared of tress and bulldozed. I went out there right after it was done to see impacts. The deep ravine and creek to the south end of the realignment apparently was badly eroded and blown out during Hurricane Floyd, as I gathered during a public meeting we held on the High Speed Rail project in that area. That creek would require a substantial trestle in any event. Considering how strapped CSX is for money after the merger, we may never see that curve flattened unless someone else does it? That is about all I know about it at this time. Hope it helps a little. Marc

-- Marc L. Hamel (, August 01, 2000.

Van - I've gone and looked at Halifax/Pender, NC, on, with a DeLorme Atlas of North Carolina in my lap, and can't find any evidence of a "beltline" around Halifax. NC Hwy 125 crosses the ACL mainline twice about halfway between Weldon and Halifax, then parallels the tracks on the west side, eventually swinging further west as it nears Halifax. South of Halifax, combined Hwys US 301/NC 125 cross the Scotland Neck Branch east of the junction. Is this what you're looking at, highway right-of-ways? What would be the reason for a "beltline" or even a track relocation at this site? Remember, railroads didn't spend large sums on new alignments unless it was necessary.

-- Tom Underwood (, August 01, 2000.

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