Chances are the last train has made the run up the Eastern Shore from Cape Charles. The Baycoast Railroad ceased operation in May and since then, for the first time since the late 1800s, there will be no trains on the southern Eastern Shore.   According to an article on progressiverailroading.com, Carload Express Inc. has leased 14.8 miles of track between Pocomoke City and Hallwood and rail service will extend to Hallwood.

Business has been in a downward spiral for the railroad on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for several years.   In the 1980s and 90s, Canonie Atlantic Co. operated the rail line and customers included coal shipments that fueled power plants in Delaware and  the Norfolk Ford plant.   These cars were transported across the Chesapeake Bay via car float tug and barge.

Norfolk and Western was able to take away the coal business by routing cars to Delaware via the northern route. The Ford plant closed. Several years ago, the car float operation was ceased and the Bay Coast railroad had to depend on local business to survive.   The number of trains along with the condition of the track declined over the last several years.  The railroad survived by hauling grain, Lp gas, gravel and bridge parts from Bayshore Concrete.   The closing of Bayshore Concrete last fall was a final blow.

Bay Coast Railroad has been in operation since 2006.

Railroading came to the Eastern Shore in the late 1800s and dramatically transformed the economy.   The trains enabled local shippers to send crops, oysters and fish to the Northeast and dramatically reduced travel time from the Eastern Shore to Salisbury, Dover, Wilmington, Philadelphia and New York. Local farmers shipped car loads of potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes and other truck crops. At one time Accomack County was considered one of the wealthiest counties in America because of income from agriculture.

The trains also transported hunters and fisherman who visited resorts especially on Cobb Island and eventually resulted in the establishment of ferry service from Cape Charles to Norfolk and Old Point Comfort.

Towns grew up and down the tracks on the Eastern Shore. New Church, Horsey, Hallwood, Bloxom, Hopeton, Parksley, Tasley, Onley, Melfa, Keller, Painter, Exmore, Birds Nest,  Machipongo, Eastville and of course Cape Charles grew around their railroad stations.

As the railroad struggled to survive in recent years the local governments worked to fund their operations hoping that an active railroad would attract industry and jobs.

But a long decline in the number of loads and a track that has deteriorated has doomed the railroading business on most of the Shore.

The remaining rail activity will continue from Hallwood north. Carload Express will run from Hallwood and will interchange with Norfolk and Western in Delaware.

The last train run by Bay Coast Railroad ran on May 18, 2018.