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Under And Over
Debra and Dave Vanderlaan
Photograph - Photography
An abandoned railroad track
in Murphy, North Carolina
is shown here
on a misty autumn morning
meandering along the Valley River
and under the old highway through town.
The historically important Murphy Branch
is the western most part
of what was the
Western North Carolina Railroad,
later the Richmond and Danville,
and today the Norfolk Southern Railway.
The branch runs between Asheville, North Carolina
in the east and Andrews in the west.
It roughly follows Interstate 40
and the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway.
The railroad branch was constructed
with convict labor between 1881 and 1894.
Today the section of the branch
between Asheville and Sylva
is owned and operated
by the Norfolk Southern Railway.
The tracks between Dillsboro and Andrews
are owned and operated
by the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad,
a tourist excursion railroad.
Although the Murphy Branch is today divided
between two separate companies,
it is still a continuous rail line
between Asheville and Andrews.
The tracks between Andrews and Murphy
are still in place but have not been in use
since the late 1980s after Norfolk Southern
decided to close the leg
because of a lack of freight traffic.
When the railroad began eyeing
the rest of the Murphy Branch
past Dillsboro for closure,
the state of North Carolina stepped in
and purchased the tracks
to keep the right-of-way alive.
It later sold the tracks
to the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
which had leased them
from the state for a number of years.
This section of the Murphy Branch
has the distinction
of being the first stretch of track
the state ever purchased in modern times
and began a long running practice
for the state of North Carolina
that eventually became the state's
"Rails to Trails" program which maintains
railroad rights-of-way for future use.
The Murphy Branch was extremely important
to Southwestern North Carolina
in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
as it opened up the isolated
and rural mountains west of Asheville.
January 24th, 2013
Viewed 128 Times - Last Visitor from Columbia, SC on 08/20/2014 at 10:10 AM
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