At the end of January 2019 five cars were moved from the Cape Charles railroad yard eastward to a point beyond the hump adjacent to the Cape Charles Museum, including a BCR 2000, the last remaining BCR locomotive.
Remaining rolling stock, such as flatcars and ex-Southern Railway gondolas built in the 1930s and 1940s, is being offered for donation to railroad museums.
Canonie Atlantic, the owner of the railyard is moving forward with plans to sell the 41 acres, allowing the parcel to be redeveloped. The Canonie Board of Directors is advertising for a general manager to help make all of this happen.
A petition to abandon operations has been filed with the Surface Transportation Board.
The Town of Cape Charles was interested in purchasing a portion of the 41 acres, but negotiations have since broken down.
Town Manager Larry DiRe told the Mirror, “There was actually much agreement between the Town Council and the Canonie Board. Keep in mind the town was never interested in the entire forty-one acre parcel, but rather certain areas that meet the Town’s long-term planning needs. For example, the Cape Charles comprehensive plan has long stated the need to keep the current old town road corridors (the Grid) aligned and continuous south of Mason Avenue as viewsheds to the harbor. Likewise Peach Street has been planned as a roadway extension to the harbor which would serve as a vehicular and pedestrian connection of the downtown with the harbor and by pass the hump. So the extension of that corridor was and remains important to the Town. Both the harbor area master plan and the comprehensive plan address the need for public pedestrian access and open space at the waterfront. Not development. Regardless of ownership, town zoning regulates that and the required percentage (25%) of open space per parcel in the harbor district. Remember also there is currently no subdivision plan for the forty-one acres. At least not that I’m aware of. Remember also there are stormwater and drainage issues and railyard clean up, and those associated costs, that have to be taken into consideration as well. Who owns what, at what price, and for what use are all matters that remain open for discussion.”
According to an article in Railway, Track and Structures Magazine, the Canonie Atlantic board wants to partner and place the abandoned line in the rails-to-trails program.
The Rails to Trails Conservancy Rail-trails is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors.
Rail Trails are multi-purpose public paths created from former railroad corridors and are used as bike paths, hiking trails, and even horseback trails.
Donald Hart Jr., who chairs both the Accomack-Northampton Transportation Commission and the Canonie Atlantic board, wants to try and keep working segments of the rail active, but says the move will require a lot of maintenance. “We can’t afford to keep maintaining something that is not being used,” he said.
The Eastern Shore Post reported that Associated Grain, Inc. has requested that a short stretch from Hallwood to Parksley remain in service so that the company could continue to ship grain by rail car. They estimate close to 250 cars of grain will be shipped over the rails per year.