Apologies for the late entry. Just stumbled across this site and joined. Thought I was the only one crazy enough to care about old railroads and rights of way!
The "town" (optimism if I've ever seen it) of Gray is in Sussex county, Va. This was on the old Atlantic and Danville Railway (A&D) 3' gauge line from near Emporia to Claremont on the James River. The line, the Claremont branch, ran through places such as Yale and the counties of Greensville, Sussex, and Surry.
Just a few weeks back during the winter, I was tracing where the line crossed Va. route 610 at Mason, which is such a tiny place that the Virginia Department of Transportation just put in place small signs on that road to mark it last year. Nothing is there except a couple of nearby houses and a National Bicentennial Farm that has a small shack by the road. I was able to determine the approximate location where the tracks crossed the road, which is now paved but was undoubtedly little more than a dirt path when the line existed. (Some roads in the area are still gravel or dirt, at least for short stretches.)
Gray might be named for the lumbering family. I don't know. Plenty of people with that name are still around. The old right of way (ROW) is marked on the topographic maps in the DeLorme Virginia Atlas & Gazetteer. Parts of county roads and Virginia route 40 now use the old ROW. This line was never upgraded to standard gauge, and it was abandoned and the tracks removed in the late 1930s. Apparently Gray Lumber Co. did take over and lease the tracks briefly in the 1930s before abandonment.
The line met A&D tracks at James River Junction near Emporia, which is actually some 50 miles from the James. These other tracks, which eventually ran from West Norfolk in what is now Portsmouth to Danville, eventually were all standard gauge except for having a third rail for allowing 3' gauge trains in the vicinity of Emporia. This line later became the Norfolk, Franklin & Danville (NF&D). Norfolk Southern now runs these tracks, which end at Lawrenceville today. The rest of the line west to Danville has been abandoned and the tracks removed, but the ROW at least as far as South Hill is still visible.
Lumbering was big in this part of Virginia, and Gray Lumber Co. took over at least one locomotive (No. 26) from the defunct Surry, Sussex & Southampton Railway (SS&S), another lumbering railroad, when that line went defunct in 1930. The Gray family undoubtedly had links to the SS&S. That locomotive was used in turn on the A&P Claremont branch. Later No. 26 was used on a short 3-rail spur linking to the Norfolk & Western tracks in Waverly.
An interesting side note about the NF&D is that a true ghost "town" of sorts exists on that track. That town is Arringdale in Southampton county. A narrow-gauge spur served a lumber mill, which had houses for workers nearby. In the 1960s, when the mill closed, the houses were demolished and the town ceased to exist. Some foundations and couple of crumbling buildings remain but are badly overgrown. The narrow-gauge spur and the third rail on the main tracks are long gone, of course.
In addition, one of the two roads to Arringdale become overgrown and lost, and the other is on private property and normally chained. It has been in use as an access road for farmers. When Norfolk Southern had a derailment and diesel fuel spill on the line several years ago, it had to widen that remaining road to be able to get its recovery equipment to the spill site near Arringdale. The activity didn't exactly endear NS to the owner who keeps the road chained.
In the interests of full disclosure, I live in the area. Hope this helps.
Last edited by ekrampitzjr on Wed May 09, 2007 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.