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Norfolk Southern Railroad was created from predecessor railroads which date back to the early portion of the 19th century.

Prior to modern times, the three main branches of the current corporate family tree were for many years themselves systems: Norfolk and Western, formed in 1881. Southern Railway System in 1894, and Conrail, formed much later, in 1976.

Each of these grew from many smaller local and regional lines as the railroad industry grew.

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