Eastern Shore of Virginia

Rail Trail

History of the Eastern Shore Railroad

History of the Eastern Shore RailroadLocated along the spine of the peninsula between Pocomoke City, MD and Cape Charles, VA, the 1883 completion of the Eastern Shore Railroad ushered in a period of rapid economic growth on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Towns began developing along the new railroad while barges and ferries transported passengers and freight across the Chesapeake Bay. Towns like Cape Charles, Exmore, and Parksley grew around the success of their railroad stations.

By 1910, the Counties of Accomack and Northampton were the wealthiest rural counties in America. Hotels and hunt clubs were built in scenic seaside locations, catering to wealthy clients from nearby cities who were attracted to the abundant game, produce, and seafood and were finally able to make the journey in comfort and style.

Following the Great Depression, Virginia’s Eastern Shore experienced decades of steady economic decline.

In 2006, the Eastern Shore Railroad became the Bay Coast Railroad and continued operations under new management until 2018, when the last train made its final run up the Eastern Shore. Due to a long decline in rail traffic and deteriorating tracks, the decision was made to file a petition to abandon 49.1 miles of rail line between Hallwood, VA and Cape Charles, in turn providing a pathway to the corridor’s preservation.

Click to read the Virginia Department of Transportation Feasibility Study

Photo Courtesy of The Cape Charles Historical Society