In 1986, a group of railfans, whose interest centered on the Southern Railway, met in former master mechanics office at Spencer, NC to discuss the feasibility of forming a new organization, the Southern Railway Historical Association. At the time, the Southern Railway Historical Society existed, but many attendees at the organizational meeting believed that more could be done with such an organization than what SRHS was accomplishing. The new organization was formed, officers elected, and the journey began. Eventually, the SRHS membership mirrored that of the SRHA and the SRHS gradually disappeared into SRHA.
Early on, the SRHA began preserving as many records from the Southern Railway as possible before they disappeared or were destroyed. This includes thousands of microfilm aperture cards, company photos as well as the gems of the collection, the Hayne Shop records and executive files. When NS decided to vacate the old Spring Street offices, some employee members were given access to the executive files of all the Southern’s presidents from 1894 to 1982 which we preserved. These records were originally stored in the Spencer Shop complex prior to the establishment of the North Carolina Transportation Museum by the state. From there, they were temporarily stored in a baggage car at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum until 2003 when an agreement to establish an archival facility was reached with the Southern Museum of Locomotive and Civil War History in Kennesaw. This agreement lasted until late 2016, when the decision was made to void our agreement with the museum and move the collection. Fortunately, a building located adjacent to the TVRM campus was for sale. SRHA’s vast archive collection had found a permanent home, as had the organization, which moved its charter to Tennessee and now calls Chattanooga home as well.
The Southern Railway holds a significant place in American railroad history. Established in 1894 from the consolidation of numerous interconnected railroads, it connected various major cities in the southeastern United States and had a considerable impact on the economic, cultural, and social landscapes of the region.
The Southern Railway was an important transportation network that connected major cities such as Washington D.C., Atlanta, Charlotte, Birmingham, New Orleans, and Memphis. It played a vital role in promoting trade and economic growth in the South. During both World War I and World War II, the Southern Railway served as a strategic transportation system, moving troops and essential supplies to support the nation's wartime efforts.
Throughout its existence, the Southern Railway was at the forefront of technological advancements in the railroad industry. The company was an early adopter of diesel locomotives, centralized traffic control systems, and modern signaling technologies. The Southern Railway was also responsible for innovations like the "Big John" hoppers, which revolutionized the transportation of bulk commodities by increasing capacity and reducing costs. These developments contributed to the evolution of rail transportation and set the stage for innovations seen in today's rail systems.
The Southern Railway Historical Association (SRHA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving, researching, and sharing the rich history of the Southern Railway and its affiliated lines. As an invaluable resource for rail enthusiasts, historians, and modelers, the SRHA's mission is centered around the following activities:
Archival Preservation: The SRHA maintains an extensive archive of historical documents, photographs, maps, and other artifacts related to the Southern Railway. These materials are carefully cataloged and preserved to ensure their availability for future generations.
Research and Education: The SRHA supports researchers and historians in their pursuit of knowledge about the Southern Railway.
Publications: The SRHA produces a variety of publications, including a quarterly journal, The TIES Magazine, that features articles, photographs, and stories about the Southern Railway's history, operations, and equipment. Additionally, the SRHA periodically publishes books and special issues on specific subjects.
Modeling Support: The SRHA assists model railroaders and model railroad manufacturers by providing accurate information, resources, and reference materials to help recreate the Southern Railway and its affiliated lines in miniature.
Preservation Support: The SRHA is engaged with other historical societies, museums, and preservation groups to provide the resources and reference materials to aid in restoration of Southern Railway prototype equipment.
Together, we work to ensure that the legacy of the Southern Railway lives on for generations to come.