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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 8 (February 1, 1933)

History of the System

History of the System.

The L. and N. ranks thirteenth in mileage among America's some 200 Class I. railroads (roads with a net income of £1,000,000 or more per year), and is one of the oldest systems in the States. It still operates under the name which it received in its original charter from the State of Kentucky on 5th March, 1850. Actual construction was started in May, 1853, but it was not until some six years later that the line was completed between the two cities from whence it derived its name. On 1st November, 1859, the first through train between the two big cities puffed proudly into Nashville, loaded to the creaking point with notables. This was just before America's Civil War (1861–1865), and the L. and N. played a very important part in this conflict between the North and South, serving as it did the border States between the Confederacy and the Union. Time and time again its track, but so recently laid, was uprooted and destroyed by the rebels, and its bridges and rolling stock were made to feel the annihilating touch of the torch. Nevertheless, and paradoxical as it may seem, the Louisville and Nashville emerged from the Civil War in a very good shape financially, and soon thereafter started its lusty, rapid growth—a growth of construction and acquisition—an evolution which was the gradual transformation of a small road some 187 miles long to a system embracing some 5,000 miles of track and with, in normal times, some 50,000 employees.

page 47

Since the Civil War not only has the L. and N. grown, but the South has also prospered, and this prosperity of the latter is directly attributable in a large measure to the L. aad N. Through its Industrial and Agricultural Department particularly, and through its policies generally, it has since 1900—and long before that, but in a less highly organized way—encouraged colonies of immigrants to settle along its lines.