Eastern Shore’s steel railroad tracks were sold for $1.5M; are now used in Bolivia

EASTERN SHORE POST/CLARA VAUGHN Construction will start as early as 2025 on sections of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Rail Trail, shown here in Parksley. The 49-mile bicycling and hiking path will eventually run from Cape Charles to Hallwood, following the former railroad corridor.

BY CLARA VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post —

When trains stopped running between Cape Charles and Hallwood, the company that owns the tracks was left with 49 miles of rails, ties, and other steel infrastructure.

That turned out to be a valuable asset, said Ron Wolff, executive director of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Rail Trail Foundation.

“The rail was built back in the 1880s. Some of the highest-grade steel that the country has ever made” was from that era, he said.

To make way for a new hiking and biking trail along the corridor, Canonie Atlantic, the company that owns the tracks, had to remove the rails and ties.

It chose Indiana-based National Salvage and Services Corporation for the job, Wolff said.

The company pulled 10,000 gross tons of steel, 150,000 rail ties, and 2,000 tons of other pieces such as spikes and connectors from the train tracks, which it shipped to Bolivia to be recycled and used in the country’s rail system, Wolff said.

Canonie is using the $1.5 earned from the steel to continue operations, which include mowing and spraying the railroad property, making repairs such as recently replacing a culvert in Painter, and continuing to operate its active railroads at Norfolk’s Little Creek and north of Hallwood, he said.

Canonie Atlantic is a private company owned by a local public commission.

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