Meet Joseph Fralin

Joseph Milton FralinOur featured employee this month is Joseph M. Fralin.

Mr. Fralin’s job was to inspect the tracks of the F&P Railroad. He would walk the tracks from Union Hall to Rocky Mount looking for any problem with the tracks, spikes, crossties; anything that would affect the train. The F&P was noted for jumping the tracks. It sometimes left the tracks daily and became the source of many jokes for the residents of both counties.

Any problems were reported to a section gang who were assigned an area or “section” to repair. They were a group of men using hand tools to fix the track.

Mr. Fralin would walk the track starting in Union Hall inspecting one rail then upon reaching Rocky Mount checking the other rail on the way back.

Joseph Milton Fralin was born in 1866 and died 1-17-1931. He lived in Union Hall and married Eliza Wright.

When his son, Silas Franklin Fralin, was born in 1911 the railroad gave him the day off because he named his son Franklin.

joseph fralin- Right-frontThis photo of the entire group shows Joseph Fralin on the front right. The man standing in the back on your left is thought to be Harry Robertson who later ran a store in the Union Hall depot after the F&P closed.

Notice they all are holding a bottle of an adult beverage and one man has some “Extra” playing cards conveniently located in his hat band.

From the Editor: March 2015

From the Editor – March

Exploration and mapping of the F&P Right of Way (ROW) in Franklin Co. has made some major strides in 2015.

On February 9 we were lucky to meet with Ulis Chitwood and his daughter Paulette at the Hub in Rocky Mount to reminisce about the F&P. Ulis is 91 years old and remembers seeing the F&P engine passing near his home in Redwood.

After lunch we rode down Rt. 40 with them and he pointed out the route the track followed as it traveled out of Rocky Mount. The old ROW between Rocky Mount and Redwood ran a short distance off the north side of Rt. 40 and has seen a lot of residential and commercial construction in recent years.

Very few visible traces of the old ROW remain in this section but with his help we were able to add or confirm where the F&P ran for fifty two years.

Ulis was able to show us many places it ran even though most traces of its existence are gone now. With his help we were able to identify some of the road bed that had been un-known to us and fill in some blank areas in our recording where the old track ran. This has been one of the hardest areas to trace and we are indebted to Ulis for his help in documenting this part of Franklin Co.

This is the final reminder for the trip to see the mine branch area in Pittsville. It will be March 28th at 11 A.M. For directions contact us at: 434-332-3878 or e-mail at

In the January column we reported that the proposed Mountain Valley Pipe line had presented a possible new route that would take it directly through the area where the Mattox Curve wreck occurred. On our trip there we saw survey flags where the maps had indicated they might go.

At present it seems they are still considering the Nelson Co. route and no decision has been made. The line would not cross any remaining cuts, grades or fills in that area as surveyed. As long as access to the old right of way wasn’t limited there seems to be little objection to the line going through this historic area.

We will continue to monitor this project as nothing has been settled yet.

Two passenger coaches are off the tracks at Mattox Curve on a cold January day in 1915.


Events that occurred in the month of March

March 2, 1913: W. E. Doss sues the F&P for starting a fire on his land near Pen Hook.
March 6, 1922: Court orders the sale of the F&P RR. It was purchased by Nathaniel P. Angle of Rocky Mount.
March 6, 1873: Permission to extend the Rocky Mount and Liberty Narrow Gauge RR into Henry and Patrick Co. to the state line.
March 7, 1879: Ground breaking for the F&P at Gentry’s field.
March 7, 1933: The receivers of the F&P sold a strip of land in Rocky Mount to the N & W RR.
March 23, 1872: The Liberty & Rocky Mount Narrow Gauge RR charter approved.
March 29, 1933: Contract to sell scrap metal from the F&P to the Roanoke Scrap iron & metal Co. for $1.00 a ton.