E & A Rail Trail

A Short Elkin & Alleghany Railroad History

In 1890, the east-west Northwestern N. C. Railroad was extended from Winston (future Winston-Salem) to Elkin and shortly on to North Wilkesboro. It became part of the Southern Railway when the railroad was organized in 1894. In 1896 Elkin leaders prompted North Carolina Legislature to pass the first Elkin & Alleghany Railroad Charter and then again a second charter in 1906. In 1911, Elkin leaders started building the Elkin & Allegheny Railroad from the Southern line to the northwest. The plan was to reach the popular resort, Roaring Gap, Sparta and then West Jefferson, a distance of 40 miles. The State of North Carolina furnished working prisoners in exchange for railroad stock. The line included a few small businesses, including logging operations, a tannery and a shoe factory near a small dam. To meet financial crises, the railroad was reorganized with better funding in 1914 and in 1920. The line extended 15 miles to the village of Doughton in 1917. In 1921 NC Highway 26 opened an Elkin to Roaring Gap paved route. In 1927 it became US 21. More citizens could afford to buy cars and trucks to drive to various locations. The development of the gasoline engine plus the success of the Clinchfield Railroad led to decreasing revenues and the Elkin & Allegheny Railroad declaring abandonment in 1931. In the meantime, the Southern RR prospered and continued passenger service to Elkin until the mid-1950s. Today, the Elkin & Alleghany Ticket Office has survived and the Elkin Valley Trails Association tells the railroad’s history while turning the rail corridor into an impressive rail-trail.

– Bill Blackley, MD, EVTA, Chairman
E & A Rail Trail Supplemental Information:

Triangle Trails NC Rails Newsletter Winter 2012 (PDF)

Google Maps View

Elkin & Alleghany Railway Revisted – The Tarheel Press

Alleghany Historical-Genealogical Society Summer 2014 – The Elkin & Alleghany Railway

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