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The Eastern Shore of Virginia has a rich history when it comes to railroads. The area was first connected to the rest of the country by rail in the mid-19th century, and the railroads played an important role in the development of the region's economy.
The earliest railroad on the Eastern Shore was the New York, Philadelphia, and Norfolk Railroad, which was chartered in 1853. This railroad was part of a larger network that connected New York and Philadelphia to Norfolk, Virginia. The Eastern Shore section of the railroad ran from Pocomoke City, Maryland, to Cape Charles, Virginia, and it opened for business in 1884.
The arrival of the railroad had a significant impact on the Eastern Shore. Before the railroad, the primary means of transportation and communication were boats and stagecoaches. The railroad brought a faster and more efficient way to transport goods and people, which helped spur economic growth in the region.
In the early 20th century, the New York, Philadelphia, and Norfolk Railroad was acquired by the Pennsylvania Railroad, which also operated several other railroads in the region. The Pennsylvania Railroad expanded the rail network on the Eastern Shore, building additional lines and improving existing ones.
One of the most notable railroad projects on the Eastern Shore was the construction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in the 1960s. This 17.6-mile bridge-tunnel connected the Eastern Shore to the mainland of Virginia and included a railroad line. The railroad line was used primarily to transport coal from mines in West Virginia to power plants on the Eastern Shore.
There are currently no railroads operating on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The last railroad to operate on the Eastern Shore was the Virginia Eastern Railroad, which ceased operations in 1957. However, there are plans to establish a new rail service on the Eastern Shore known as the Virginia Passenger Rail Expansion Project, which would connect the region to the existing Amtrak service in Norfolk, Virginia. The project is still in the planning phase and is not expected to begin operations until 2026 at the earliest.