NCDOT Celebrates Arrival of Raleigh’s First Train 175 Years Ago This Week
Posted 3/16/2015 1:35:20 PM
RALEIGH - Nearly two centuries ago, Raleigh was a very different place. The year was 1840. The state’s capital – now a bustling metropolis of shopping, restaurants and businesses – was a destination largely isolated from the rest of the state, separated by long journeys over unpaved roads and a lack of a navigable river for trade and transport.
This all changed on March 21, 175 years ago this week, when the first train chugged into town – a wood-burning steam locomotive christened the “Tornado” traveling on newly built wooden rails. With the arrival of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, a predecessor of what is today CSX Transportation, Raleigh was now connected to places like Richmond, Virginia that had once taken two days by horse or stage coach to reach. Overnight, Raleigh’s new rail connection began the transformation from a small town seat of state government to a fast-growing commercial, industrial and education center.
Just as it did almost 200 years ago, the Raleigh and Gaston route today remains a key rail corridor. CSXT, which has grown to become one of the largest transportation companies in the United States, continues to provide daily freight service over the line, which serves as the origination and termination point of millions of dollars in products annually. The corridor is also designated as the primary path for the future Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor between Raleigh and Virginia.
“The introduction of the railroad revolutionized travel and freight movement throughout our state and the nation,” said N.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata. “Nearly two centuries later, rail continues to play an important role in North Carolina’s multimodal transportation system, as well as supporting job creation, economic development and commerce activities that are critical to the future vitality of our state.”
“Railroads have played a significant role in the development of the United States, probably more than any other enterprise,” said Cindy Sanborn, executive vice president-operations for CSXT. “From their earliest development of routes from eastern ports to inland settlements, railroads today are safe, reliable and fuel efficient conveyors of freight that drive North American commerce. CSX is proud to participate in acknowledging the first train to the great city of Raleigh and to have played a role in the city’s growth and prosperity.”
“Railroads have historically played an important role in the growth and development of the City of Raleigh,” said City of Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane. Rail has been a cornerstone of our infrastructure and has helped support the economic vitality of the region. As the city looks to the future, rail will remain part of the city’s foundation for a multi-modal transportation network.”
The N.C. Department of Transportation invites all North Carolinians to celebrate this special anniversary by riding the Piedmont and Carolinian trains at a reduced fare. Just book at the following Amtrak.com page for 30% off the purchase of a companion ticket when you purchase one full-price ticket on Saturday, March 21. NCDOT also invites the public to come by the Raleigh station for birthday cake and punch.
View on NCDOT.gov
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