Next time you are up on the Boylan Ave. Bridge, or on the deck of the Boylan Bridge Brewpub, taking in the view of Raleigh’s ever-growing skyline, cast your eyes downward and you will see the skeletal remains of part of Raleigh’s industrial past.
Just where the CSX and Southern RR tracks emerge from under the bridge is the Boylan Wye. At this point the tracks diverge, forming a Y shape, or “wye.” It’s hard to imagine now, but this area was once a hub of some of Raleigh’s railroad-related industries.
Booming from about 1900 into the 1950s, the wye was the locale of several coal yards, ice plants and iron works. At one time a mattress factory was here, and later a concrete plant. These businesses all used the the wye as a switching yard and as a means to move freight in and out. Passenger trains also used the wye to back in and out of the Union Station, then located two blocks away on Nash Square.
Nowadays all the hubbub is gone. You can still find remnants of the coal yards and the concrete plant, and there’s even the concrete foundation of a turntable down there.
As the images of Raleigh’s railroad history pass from thought, your eyes cast upward now, taking you back into the 21st century.