Home Collections Photos Slides Features Year's Best Videos
Norfolk and Western Railway | Henry County, Martinsville, & Patrick County, VA
William MahoneWilliam Mahone (1826–1895), a Virginia Military Institute engineering graduate of the class of 1847, was hired by Dr. Francis Mallory to build the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad. He began the task in 1853 and eventually became its president in the pre-Civil War era. Mahone's innovative corduroy roadbed through the Great Dismal Swamp near Norfolk, VA, employs a log foundation laid at right angles beneath the surface of the swamp. It is still in use 150 years later, withstanding immense tonnages of coal traffic.

The Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad was severed during the 'War of Northern Aggression', with the portion east of the Blackwater River at Zuni, VA in Union hands for most of the War. The eastern portion of the City Point Railroad played a crucial role for Union General Ulysses S. Grant during the Siege of Petersburg, and was operated by the United States Military Railroad. The South Side Railroad was also heavily damaged. After the surrender at Appomattox in April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee urged his leaders to return to their homes and set about rebuilding the South.

William "Little Billy" and Otelia Mahone were well known characters in Virginia in the post-bellum period as Virginia began to rebuild. "Little Billy" had been a Major General in the Confederate Army and was widely regarded as the hero of the Battle of the Crater during the Siege of Petersburg in 1864-1865. Otelia Mahone served as a nurse in the Confederate capital of Richmond. After the war, "Little Billy" Mahone began restoring the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad, and resumed his dream of linking the three trunk lines across the southern tier of Virginia to reach points to the west. He managed to become president of all three, and was the driving force in the 1870 corporate linkage of Norfolk & Petersburg, South Side Railroad and the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad to form the Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad (AM&O). The AM&O stretched 408 miles from Norfolk to Bristol, VA. The Mahones moved to the headquarters city of Lynchburg, which was the midpoint of the AM&O. The letters A, M & O were said to stand for "All Mine and Otelia's." A fourth road of the AM&O family was planned to extend west through the Cumberland Gap to Kentucky, but was never built. Next



©Copyright 2003-2017 | Disclaimer | Email Contact