The History of Norfolk Southern 
in Eastern Virginia

Norfolk Southern is a major railroad company that operates across the eastern United States, including the state of Virginia. On this webpage, we will take a closer look at the history of Norfolk Southern in eastern Virginia and explore how the company has shaped the region's economy and transportation infrastructure over the years.

Norfolk Southern traces its roots back to the early 19th century when several small railroads began operating in the eastern United States. Over time, these railroads merged and consolidated, eventually forming the Norfolk and Western Railway (N&W) and the Southern Railway. These two companies operated independently for many years until they merged in 1982 to create Norfolk Southern.

In eastern Virginia, Norfolk Southern's history dates back to the early 1800s when the Petersburg Railroad was established to connect the city of Petersburg with the port of City Point on the James River. This railroad played an important role in the Civil War, transporting troops and supplies to Union forces based in the area.

In the years following the Civil War, Norfolk Southern (then known as the Norfolk and Western Railway) expanded its operations in Virginia, building new lines and acquiring smaller railroads. One of its most significant projects was the construction of a new rail line from Norfolk to Bristol, Tennessee, which opened in 1890. This line provided a direct connection between the port of Norfolk and the Midwest, allowing goods to be transported more efficiently between these regions.

Throughout the 20th century, Norfolk Southern continued to play a major role in Virginia's economy, transporting goods ranging from coal to automobiles. In the 1980s, the company invested heavily in upgrading its infrastructure and expanding its operations, including the construction of a new intermodal facility in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Today, Norfolk Southern remains a key player in Virginia's transportation industry, operating hundreds of miles of track in the state and employing thousands of people. The company's rail lines connect many of Virginia's major cities, including Richmond, Norfolk, and Roanoke, and provide an essential link between the state's ports and the rest of the country.

In recent years, Norfolk Southern has also been working to modernize its operations and improve efficiency. In 2020, the company announced plans to shift its headquarters from Norfolk to Atlanta, Georgia, and to streamline its operations by closing several facilities and consolidating operations.

Overall, the history of Norfolk Southern in eastern Virginia reflects the important role that railroads have played in shaping the region's economy and transportation infrastructure. From its early days as the Petersburg Railroad to its current operations as a major transportation provider, Norfolk Southern has been a driving force behind Virginia's growth and development over the past two centuries.


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