The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad is a former U. S. Class I railroad from 1900 until 1967, when it merged with long-time rival Seaboard Air Line Railroad to form the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad, much of the original ACL network has been part of CSX Transportation since 1986. The Atlantic Coast Line served the Southeast, with a concentration of lines in Florida, in 1960 ACL reported 10,623 million net ton-miles of revenue freight and 490 million passenger-miles. The earliest predecessor of the ACL was the Petersburg Railroad between Petersburg, Virginia and a point near Weldon, North Carolina, founded in 1830, a route between Richmond, Virginia and Petersburg was built by the Richmond & Petersburg Railroad, which was founded in 1836. In 1840 the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, at the known as the Wilmington and Raleigh and renamed in 1855. From Wilmington, the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad began operations in 1853 to Florence, South Carolina, in 1871, the W&W and the W&M began using the Atlantic Coast Line name to advertise the two lines. An investor from Baltimore, William T. Walters, gained control of these separate railroads after the Civil War, in 1897–98, most of the South Carolina lines in Walters system were consolidated under the name of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company of South Carolina. These mergers created an ACL system reaching from southern Virginia to South Carolina, other small acquisitions took place in 1901, and in 1902 the ACL took over the Plant System, which operated numerous lines within Florida and Georgia. The ACL acquired the East Carolina Railway in 1935, running south from Tarboro to Hookerton, the ACLs last major acquisition was the Atlanta, Birmingham and Coast Railroad, which it purchased in 1927, though the AB&C was not merged into the ACL until 1945. By the early 1900s the railroad had reached its final configuration. By the 1920s the railroads main line from Richmond, Virginia to Jacksonville, Florida had been double-tracked, in 1928 the ACL completed a line between Perry, Florida and Drifton, near Monticello, Florida, the last link of the new Perry Cut-off. During World War II ACLs passenger traffic increased 200% and freight traffic 150%, the railroad provided an alternative to coastal shipping, threatened by German submarines, and also served the fast-emerging military industry in the Southeast. The railroad spent at least $268 million in upgrading its physical plant during this period, in 1956 the railroad moved its headquarters from Wilmington, North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville was selected from three cities, the other two being Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. Construction of the new complex was finished in July 1960. As early as October 1958 the ACL and competitor Seaboard Air Line Railroad had discussed the possibility of a merger, the results showed that the merger could save considerable money through savings incurred and reduced expenditures to the amount of $38 million annually. On August 18,1960, the merger was approved by shareholders of both railroads, following another round of court decisions in 1966, the merger was allowed to be proceed, and did so on July 1,1967. The result was the creation of the Seaboard Coast Line, during its early years, the ACL handled mostly seasonal agricultural products, but by World War II its freight traffic had become more diverse
1914 map of the lines through Florida
Atlantic Coast Line headquarters, Jacksonville, Florida.
1910 advertisement for ACL trains from New York to Florida