Maxton, Alma & Southbound Railroad
The Maxton, Alma & Southbound Railroad Company history extends back to March 1881 when the North Carolina legislature incorporated the Alma and Little Rock Railroad Company. The charter issued to Messrs. J.B. Wilkinson and P.A. Fore of Alma who proposed to build a railroad from Alma to Little Rock, S.C., to bring timber to their mills in Alma.
Construction began later in 1881 but by December, the railroad extended only from Alma to Alfordsville. Apparently, construction was not resumed the following year and the railroad was essentially a logging road bringing timer into Alma.
Apparently no further construction took place until 1889 when the railroad, which was by then renamed the Maxton, Alma and Rowland Railroad, began work early in the year to extend the railroad to Rowland. Track lying to Rowland was finished around the end of May 1899. Arrangements were made to run trains into Maxton over the Carolina Central tracks from Alma to Maxton.
On October 1, 1889, the Maxton Union reported the Maxton, Alma and Rowland Railroad carried its first freight from Maxton, 25 bales of cotton shipped from McNatt & Co. The Maxton agent for the MA&RRR at that time was Mr. J.S. McRae. In the next issue of the Union, an article advised that the MA&RRR freight was leaving Maxton daily at 4:00 p.m. for Rowland and Wilmington as well as all points north and south. It also reported that Maxton merchants were shipping most of their cotton over the MA&RRR. In October 1889, MA&R advised they would put on a passenger coach and that the Carolina Central would close its office in Alma, moving their agent to Maxton. All exchange of mail, express and passengers between the two railroads would take place in Maxton.
In February 1890, the MA&R telegraph line was in operation and the Maxton agent was very busy handling freight and sending messages. The depot was apparently located a few blocks east of Main Street, between the Carolina Central Line and Wilmington Street. Later in 1890, the MA&R acquired a passenger coach and the railroad reported doing a good passenger business. The line prospered until the panic of 1893. Around 1900, the MA&R ceased operating into Maxton and ran only from Alma to Rowland
In 1911, the Maxton, Alma & Southbound Railroad Company chartered with an authorized capital of $125,000.00. The MA&S purchased the railroad from the Alma to Midway from the Alma Lumber Company. Late in that year, the line was extended to Bracey. The MA&S officers were A.J. McKinnon, President; R.M. Williams, Vice President; A.J. Steed, Treasurer and Purchasing Agent; C.J. Lenair, Chief Engineer.
In April 1912, the MA&S announced plans to build the railroad three miles from Bracey to Rowland. Business was good and there were two scheduled trains in each direction between Alma and Rowland each day except Sunday. The railroad owned two standard passenger coaches, about ten freight cars and two steam locomotives. Business went along good until the postwar depression in 1922. From late 1922 until mid 1923 train service was reduced to one train per day in each direction. In 1925, passenger service was dropped and the schedule went to one train per day. During the 1920s, the production of watermelons was promoted along the MA&S and as many as forty cars per day were shipped out.
In the early 1930s, both freight and passenger traffic fell further. Often the need for a train was only to carry the mail. The MA&S purchased a 1922 gasoline motor car, which could carry mail, and passengers when there were no freight cars to move.
An application for abandonment was made and approved in 1937. The entire remaining track was taken up and sold for scrap along with the locomotives and other remaining items.
This image is featured in by book - Robeson County in Vintage Postcards.