Long before “Tweets”, “Twitter” or e-mail when you were in a hurry to send a message you sent a telegram. The arrival of one meant important, often bad, news. The first telegraphs in the Franklin Co. area belonged to the Franklin & Pittsylvania Railroad. They were installed about 1883 in the headquarters and depots along the line. For a time it was the only communication with the train once it left Rocky Mount. It also connected the citizens of the county with the outside world.

Click to enlarge the telegram.
Click to enlarge the telegram.

Recently Brenda Overholt of Rocky Mount was looking through some old family photos and memorabilia when she ran across what appeared to be a telegram from 1921 about a family member killed in WW1 whose body was being shipped home.

The telegraph message had been received at the Franklin & Pittsylvania RR office and forwarded to the family in Glade Hill. It seems the body of Harvey L. Holland had been sent home from France to a staging area in New Jersey and was being sent home for burial by way of the F&P Railroad.

Brenda had never heard of a railroad in Glade Hill but got the F&P name from the telegram letter head and did a search that led her to the F&P web page. After reading about the railroads history on line she realized that the cuts, fills and grades behind her grandparents’ house had been where the F&P ran between 1880 and 1932.

On Sunday, 11 January, Brenda and several members of her family gave us a tour of some remaining signs of where the railroad ran between Glade Hill and Redwood. The track bed curved in a serpentine path as it went through the rolling hills and crossed Rt. 40 near the Hodges garage. One family member said that was the place known as Lloyds which was a flag stop for the train although no depot was there.

Click to enlarge the Transportation of Corpse form.
Click to enlarge the Transportation of Corpse form.

Brenda, her husband and other family were excited to learn of the long extinct railroad and its connection to her family years ago. The day turned into a real family outing for everyone who were proud to be a part of Franklin Counties’ history.

It seems ironic that a document that brought much sadness to their family years ago finally gave some closure to the entire family. When the telegraph operator sent that message back in 1921 we’re sure he never imagined it would be found by relatives almost 100 years later who would be glad to learn about a long deceased family member.

The people and places that day were recorded by Lou Revelle who photographed the event and got GPS locations for use in mapping the route of the F&P on the web page and preservation of the Right of Way.

From the Editor: February 2015

The mine branch trip has been rescheduled for Saturday; 28 March, 2015 with a weather date of the following Saturday; 4 April.

The trip starts two miles east of Pittsville on Rt. 672 at 11 A.M. The total time should be about 1½ hours
which includes about a half mile of leisurely paced walking on a gentle grade. Those signed up for this trip last November will automatically receive e-mails about this trip. Others wanting to attend should contact us at 434-332-3878 or by e-mail

The map of the Pittsville branch. Click for a larger image.
The map of the Pittsville branch. Click for a larger image.

The tour includes a short history of the area and the operations of the F&P. The grades of the main line and branch are unique. Both are three dimensional, rising from the creek bottom up Hogan’s Hill. You will see where the main line climbed the hill while the branch rose above it before going under the Pittsville Road.

Few other locations along the old line can match this one. This would make a great area to copy for anyone into model trains and it is easy to access compared to other places the F&P ran.

The Pittsville depot, far left, and the mine branch on the right.

On Sunday January 11 Lou Revelle and Tex Carter continued getting GPS locations of the F&P right of way through Franklin County. Lou took 115 photos that included GPS co-ordinates that can be used to locate the exact point on Google maps. The results of this in Pittsylvania Co. can be viewed now on the “Maps” tab.

We were fortunate to have several people along to show us the grades, cuts and fills on several places between Glade Hill and Redwood.


L to R: Robert Amos, Ernest Amos, Nancy Brooks Lambert, Jonathan Perdue and in the back row Tom and Brenda Overholt.

Brenda first got in touch with us through the F&P web page when she found a family document with the F&P name imprinted. We will have the full story of that on the web page in the near future. It led us to a lot of new discoveries and has proven several miles of where the tracks ran. Many thanks to Brenda and her family for their interest in the F&P RR. It is through the efforts of people like them we are able to bring information about the F&P to you.

About the F&P
Click on our “About the F&P” tab of this web page and see a short summary of the railroad’s history. It is an abbreviated overview of the F&P to help visitors to use this web page. It will be a permanent part of this site for those who just want a brief idea of the lines history without going into all the details.

Events that occurred in the month of February
February 2, 1899: Court decision that forced the Southern RR to continue running the F&P RR.

February 2, 1934: The court ordered the final sale of the F&P RR.

February 4, 1873: Act to allow the Va. & N.C. RR to assume the new name of Washington City, Virginia Midland and Great Southern Railroad.

February 12, 1886: The part of the Roanoke & Southern RR in Virginia was incorporated.

February 17, 1873: The town of Rocky Mount was incorporated. The first mayor was Capt. Giles W. B. Hale who was later the first president of the F&P RR.