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New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk Railroad

The New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk Railroad (reporting mark NYP&N) was a railroad line that ran down the spine of the Delmarva Peninsula connecting Wilmington, Delaware and Cape Charles, Virginia and then by ferry to Norfolk, Virginia. It became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system.[1]


The NYP&N was the vision of William Lawrence Scott an Erie, Pennsylvania coal magnate, who wanted to build a shorter railroad route between the coal wharfs of Hampton Roads by utilizing a ferry line across the Chesapeake Bay and a railroad line up the Eastern Shore to the industrial north.[2] Scott enlisted engineering help from Pennsylvania Railroad Vice-President, Alexander J. Cassatt, who saw the merits of the plan and took a hiatus [3] from PRR to work on the new line. Cassatt surveyed the line on horseback, designed ferries and wharfs, acquired other railroads, most notably Eastern Shore Railroad (1853), and the line was ready for operation in 1884. The line was financed by many PRR interests and was officially merged into the PRR in 1921.[4]

Ferry service

The original crossing was 30 miles which was later reduced to 26 miles when the terminuses were relocated.[5] Both passenger and freight ferries existed. Up to 30 freight cars could be loaded on tugboat pulled flat barges for the trip. The original passenger ferries, Cape Charles & Old Point Comfort, side-wheeler paddle steamers, could hold an entire train on their two tracks. In 1889 the New York the first propeller driven ship, 200 feet long, 31 feet beam was built for the run to Norfolk, and in 1890 the Pennsylvania, a larger boat, 260 feet long, 36 feet beam was added. In 1907 the Maryland was built with the same dimensions, and the last ship was theVirginia Lee.[6]


Because most of the route served a rural area, revenue expectations were never met. Branches were abandoned and passenger service was discontinued in 1956.[2] NYP&N’s identity was lost with the Penn Central merger and the formation of Conrail. With the breakup of Conrail many short-line railroads such as the Eastern Shore Railroad and Bay Coast Railroad acquired parts of the route – freight service still exists between Pocomoke City, Maryland, and Norfolk, Virginia as the Bay Coast Railroad. The section north of Pocomoke City is operated by Norfolk Southern Railway as its Delmarva Secondary.

See also


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  1. "New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk Railroad (NYP&N)". Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hayman, John (1979). Rails Along The Chesapeake. Marvadel. 
  3. In 1899 Casssatt returned to PRR as its 7th President.
  4. Staufer, Alvin F., Edson, D. William, and Harley, E. Thomas. Pennsy Power lll. Staufer. ISBN 0-944513-10-7
  5. Schafer, Mike; Solomom, Brian (1997). Pennsylvania Railroad. MBI. p. 52. ISBN 0-7603-0379-7. 
  6. "A Short History of Cape Charles". Retrieved September 2013.