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Stations, Virginia Museum of Transportation and C&O Heritage Museum 5/03/2023

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I arose at the English Inn and Suites in Charlottesville, Virginia and following our Internet duties, we ate at the hotel then checked out and I drove us to our first station.

Cheasapeake and Ohio station in Crozet, built in 1923. This is not an active Amtrak station and the Cardinal does not stop to receive passengers at this location. Nevertheless, because of its location on one of the few double tracked sections on the Buckingham Branch Railroad, the Cardinal will stop here at times to wait for a train coming the opposite direction. The town, originally called Wayland's Crossing, was re-named in honor of the famous French Napoleonic engineer Colonel Claudius Crozet. After his service with Napolean, Crozet came to America and worked for several states as an engineer. He helped lay out the original Virginia Central Railroad (the predecessor to the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad) and in particular constructed the Blue Grass tunnel about six miles to the west of this station.

We continued on to the next town, Lyndhurst.

Norfolk and Western Lyndhurst station built in 1882. The Lyndhurst Depot, located at mile post 148.0 on the original Shenandoah Valley Railroad line, was a combination station and supposedly derived its name from the railway's George C. Milne, who named the community after Lord Lyndhurst. The SVRR (1867-1890) extended down the Shenandoah Valley from Hagerstown, Maryland through the West Virginia panhandle into Virginia to reach Roanoke and connect with the Norfolk and Western Railway. Construction began in 1870 and was completed on June 19, 1882. In September 1890, SVRR went into bankruptcy and was reorganized as the Shenandoah Valley Railway. In December of the same year, it became part of the Norfolk and Western line. Today the tracks are a major artery of the Norfolk Southern system.

Our itinerary next took us to Lexington.

Baltimore and Ohio Lexington station built in 1883. This building was erected by the Valley Railroad Company in 1883 as its Lexington station. As it happened, it also became its terminus, because, although some right-of-way structures were built and grading begun on an extension of the line south to Roanoke, this portion was never completed. The line was acquired later by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, then the Chesapeake Western Railway and finally, by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company in 1943. By this time the station was served by a spur from the main line at Buena Vista, Virginia and the tracks on the old Valley Railroad line were removed and the right-of-way and associated buildings between Staunton and Lexington were sold.

I drove us down Interstate 81 to an exit that took us to Natural Bridge State Park and we parked in front of the visitors center.

Natural Bridge State Park information

The 37th state park was dedicated on September 24, 2016 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark in 1988. The 215-foot tall Natural Bridge is a limestone gorge carved out by Cedar Creek. The park is more than just the bridge; beautiful forests and rolling meadows showcase the area's karst terrain and vistas of surrounding mountains and the James River valley display nature's splendor. Access these via seven miles of hiking trails, including Cedar Creek Trail, which leads from the park's Visitor Center under the bridge to the Monacan Indian Village and Lace Falls with its 30-foot cascade. Seasonal living history programs connect you to the past and cover how people once used the area's resources for survival and inspiration. Start at the visitor center, where you will find exhibits and a gift shop. Once owned by Thomas Jefferson, the 215-foot tall Natural Bridge is amazing. The newest Virginia State Park is more than just the bridge. Beautiful forests, open, rolling meadows showcase the area’s karst terrain, and vistas of surrounding mountains and the James River valley display nature's splendor.

We paid to enter and took the door to the path that led to the Natural Bridge.

You pass through this entrance.

A plaque tells of George Washington surveying the Natural Bridge. Next you descend many stairs until you reach the bottom where a park ranger checks your receipt, after which you walk a water level path to the bridge.

My first view of the Natural Bridge.


Views of the Natural Bridge.

Natural Bridge display board.

Elizabeth and the Natural Bridge.

We past this waterfall before we climbed back up stairs and returned to the visitors centre. Elizabeth purchased a T-shirt and a couple of pins then we continued on our journey, driving us south to Roanoke and following Elizabeth's excellent directions, parked in front of the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

Virginia Museum of Transportation History

The Virginia Museum of Transportation began its life in 1963 as the Roanoke Transportation Museum located in Wasena Park in Roanoke, Virginia. The museum at that time was housed in an old Norfolk & Western Railway freight depot on the banks of the Roanoke River. The earliest components of the museum's collection included a United States Army Jupiter rocket and the famous N&W J Class Locomotive 611, donated by Norfolk & Western Railway to the City of Roanoke where many of its engines were constructed. The museum expanded its collection to include other pieces of rail equipment such as a former DC Transit PCC streetcar and a number of horse-drawn vehicles including a hearse, a covered wagon and a Studebaker wagon. In November 1985, a flood nearly destroyed the museum and much of its collection. It forced the shutdown of the facility and the refurbishment of 611. In April 1986, the museum re-opened in the Norfolk and Western Railway freight station in downtown Roanoke as the Virginia Museum of Transportation. The museum has earned that title, being recognized by the General Assembly of Virginia as the Commonwealth's official transportation museum.

The locomotives Norfolk & Western 611 and Norfolk & Western 1218 were originally property of the City of Roanoke due to the museum's original charter. On the April 2, 2012, VMT's 50 Birthday, the city officially gifted the locomotive titles to the museum.

The Norfolk and Western Railway Freight station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. The station consists of two clearly identifiable sections, both of which were completed in 1918. They are the two-story, fifty-bay-long, freight station, which was built parallel to the railroad.

Our Visit

We walked inside the museum, paid the admission and were given a discount as we are both National Railway Historical Society members.

A display case housing models of the Railroads of Virginia over the last 75 years.

The original Big Lick Depot.

Schuder Collection.

Information board of the above collection.

Locomotive cab of Norfolk Southern 1594.

Three rows of steam engines, diesel locomotives and passenger equipment are on display under the covered Robert B. Claytor and W. Graham Claytor Junior Pavilion. I made my way outside to see the it all.

Norfolk & Western Safety Instruction Car 418, ex. Wabash cafe/lounge 1750, nee Boston and Maine diner-bar-lounge 70 "Bald Eagle" built by Pullman-Standard in 1947. It was rebuilt by Norfolk and Western as a safety instruction car, a mobile classroom.

Norfolk & Western 2-6-6-4 1218 built by the railroad in 1936. The A Class was designed to haul fast freight at sustained speeds on all parts of the N&W system and effectively pushed to the limit of the railroad's operating envelope. It was almost at the maximum for track and curvature clearances, with a wheel base that was as long as feasible but still able to use existing turntables. All the As were retired by the N&W between 1958 and 1959. Except for 1218, all the engines were later scrapped.

After retirement in 1959, 1218 was used by Union Carbide as a backup boiler in one of its industrial plants. In 1965, F. Nelson Blount bought it for his Steamtown collection but then sent it to Roanoke, where it went on display and eventually became the property of the city. In 1985, Robert B. Claytor, then president of the Norfolk Southern, arranged for 1218 to be restored for the company's steam programme and on 16th January 1987, it was fired up for the first time in nearly thirty years. It then hauled many excursions until the end of the 1991, after which it went for overhaul, which was still in progress when Norfolk Southern cancelled its steam programme in late 1994. As as a consequence, the engine went into storage. 1218 reappeared for a feature in Vanity Fair Magazine with the renowned photographer O. Winston Link in 2001 and was then returned to the Virginia Museum of Transportation on 14th June 2003.

Virginian Railroad 0-8-0 4 built by Baldwin in 1910. It is the only Virginian steam locomotive to have survived. After retiring from service in 1957, 4 was gifted to the City of Princeton, West Virginia, where it went on static display in front of the Mercer County Court House. Unfortunately, exposure to the weather and vandalism led to quite rapid deterioration in its condition. Following a disputed trade of a caboose by the Norfolk & Western in 1960 and a bout of litigation, 4 was refurbished in the N&W shops and donated to the museum in 1963. It finally joined the collection in 1967, just in time for the museum's dedication on 17th June that year.

Norfolk & Western 2-8-0 6 built by Baldwin in 1897 as helpers on the railroad's Flat Top Mountain to Elkhorn Tunnel grade in Virginia. Originally, this locomotive was numbered 352 but in May 1917, it was one of two sold to the Virginia Carolina Railroad (two had already been sold in 1914) and renumbered 6. When the N&W later acquired the Virginia Carolina in January 1920, it remained 6 and operated on the Clinch Valley line out of Bluefield, West Virginia with its twin 7. 6 retired from active service in January 1955 and was subsequently donated to the museum. 7 was donated to the City of Bluefield in 1955 and is on display in Bluefield City Park.

Wabash Railroad E8A 1009 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1951 and was 10,000th diesel-electric built by the company. It hauled streamliners such as the Blue Bird and Banner Blue. In 1964 the N&W acquired the Wabash and donated 1009 to the museum on retirement.

Norfolk and Western wooden caboose 518302 built by the railway in 1922.

Virginian Railroad caboose 321 built by St. Louis Car Company in 1949.

Virginian Railroad EL-C E33 135 built by General Electric in 1956. The VGN merged with the Norfolk & Western in 1959. The N&W saw diesels as the future of motive power and electrification was discontinued in 1962. The EL-Cs were then sold to the New York, New Haven & Hartford in 1963. Reclassified as EF-4s 300-310 (one unit was used for spare parts for the other eleven) on the New Haven, ten of the remaining EL-Cs survived on the Penn Central as well as its successor, Conrail, where they were reclassified E-33 4601-4610. They were finally retired in 1981 when Conrail ended its electrified operations.

Norfolk and Western dynamometer car 4900 built by the railroad in 1919, lettered as 514780.

Norfolk Western Railway Post Office Car 93 built by Bethlehem in 1937.

Electro-Motive Division FTB 103 built by the company in 1939 to promote the locomotive as a freight-hauling diesel-electric. It was the first in EMD's highly successful F series. The "F" stood for freight and "T" for 2,700 hp. Later F units were simply numbered sequentially from F2 to F9. 103 toured thirty-five states and twenty Class 1 railroads in 1939 and showed itself superior in operation and with lower running costs than steam freight locomotives, convincing many railroads to make the switch to diesel-electric. 103 was sold to Southern Railway and came to the museum in 1985. 103's A unit is on the National Museum of Transportation in Kirkwood, Missouri.

Chesapeake Western DS-4-4-660 662 built by American Locomotive Company in 1946. It was one of the first diesel locomotives ordered by this western Virginia shortline. Along with DS-44-660, 661 and 663, these three Baldwin built first-generation diesel locomotives completely transitioned the Chesapeake Western from steam to diesel power. They were retired in 1964, replaced by Alco T-6 units and 662 and 663 ended up in the Virginia Scrap Iron & Metal scrap yard in Roanoke. They sat there rusting for over forty years along with three N&W Class M steam locomotives which, collectively, became known as the "Lost Engines of Roanoke". Virginia Scrap Iron & Metal donated the engines to the Virginia Museum of Transportation, which set up a series of partnerships to save all five engines from destruction.

Norfolk & Western Redbird GP9 521 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1955. It was one of only twenty-one that the railway equipped with steam generators so they could haul passenger services. The N&W GP9s were nicknamed "Redbirds" for their distinctive livery.

Norfolk & Western SD45 1776 in bicentennial livery built by Electro-Motive Division in 1970. Repainted red, white and blue in May 1974 in celebration of the US Bi-Centennial, it went on a tour of the fourteen states in which the N&W operated with a coal hopper and piggyback trailer in similar colours. In November 1978, it was returned to a standard N&W black livery but, before donating it to the museum in 1990, Norfolk Southern repainted the locomotive in its bicentennial scheme.

Richmond Fredericksburg and Potomac box car 2305 built in Pullman-Standard in 1963.

The pavilion is named in honour of Roanoke-born Robert Buckner Claytor, who became President of the N&W in 1981. He pushed for N&W's merger with Southern Railway and became President of the new company, the Norfolk Southern, in 1982, although the Norfolk & Western continued to exist on paper until 1997. Robert Claytor retired in 1987, but continued to serve on Norfolk Southern's board until 1992. He died in 1993.

William Graham Claytor was Robert's brother. After a distinguished military career, he joined the Southern Railway as an officer in 1963, and became president in 1967. He retired in 1977 but returned to railroad administration in 1982, heading up Amtrak from 1982 to 1993. William G. Claytor died in 1994.

Norfolk and Western Research Car NS 31, ex. Southern 21, exx. Southern R-1, nee Pullman sleeping car 2483 "McCown" built by the company in 1925. It was converted to a track geometry car in the mid 1960's to research and monitor track integrity and had onboard computers which measured track width, rail wear, banking and other track measurements. Half of the car was used for research and the other half contained living quarters for the crew, including a kitchen, dining area and pull down sleeping berths. It was later donated to the Museum by the Norfolk Southern Corporation then in 2007, it was loaned by the Museum back to Norfolk Southern, updated with new technological equipment and returned to service for two years and went to Norfolk Southern.

Norfolk and Western C-630 1135 built by American Locomotive Company in 1967, one of ten which were designed with the high short hoods that were mandated by N&W operating policy. Seventy-seven C-630s were built by Alco from 1965 to 1967. In addition to the N&W units, three were built for the Atlantic Coast Line, four for the Chesapeake and Ohio, eight for the Louisville & Nashville, fifteen for PRR, twelve for the Reading, fifteen for Southern Pacific and ten for the Union Pacific. Fifty-four C-630M units were also built by Montreal Locomotive Works.

Norfolk and Western RS-3 300 built by American Locomotive Company in 1955 and is one of four RS-3s delivered to railway that year which were the first diesel-electric locomotives owned by the railroad. 300 operated on the N&W's Lynchburg, Virginia to Durham, North Carolina branch. The railroad bought another four of the units the following year.

Chesapeake Western T6 10 built by American Locomotive Company in 1955. Fifty-seven T-6s were built by Alco from 1958 to 1969, forty for the Norfolk & Western in 1959. The "T" stood for Transfer, meaning it was capable of faster transition and higher sustained speeds than Alco's regular "S" series switchers. Construction began on the Chesapeake Western in 1895 at Harrisonburg, Virginia. The line was bought by the General Manager, Don Thomas, in 1938 with the N&W's help and the N&W took control in 1954. 40 was transferred to the Chesapeake Western Railway by the N&W, along with two other T-6s in 1964. 40 was renumbered CHW 10. Retired in 1985, it was donated to the museum by Norfolk Southern that year.

Celanese Porter Fireless 1 built by H.K. Porter in 1943. Powered from a reservoir of compressed air or steam, which is filled at intervals from an external source, fireless locomotives were typically employed for industrial switching at sites where a conventional locomotive was too noxious or risky, such as in a mine or a food or chemical factory like the Celanese plant. Powered from a reservoir of compressed air or steam, which is filled at intervals from an external source, fireless locomotives were typically employed for industrial switching at sites where a conventional locomotive was too noxious or risky, such as in a mine or a food or chemical factory like the Celanese plant.

Celanese Fiber started out as "Cellonit Gesellschaft Dreyfus and Co" in Basle, Switzerland, in 1912. In 1916, operations were extended to Britain and two years later, to the United States when the plant opened at Amcelle between Cumberland and Cresaptown, Maryland. That year, the British business changed its name to "British Celanese Limited" and the United States business adopted the name "Celanese Corporation of America" in 1927. The company specialised in plastics and chemicals, particularly fabrics and yarns.

Although the Baltimore and Ohio transported freight and workers to and from the plant at Amcelle, there was also a sizeable network of rail lines on the property. Celanese was a major local employer and most families in Amcelle had relatives working for the company (at one point, 13,000 people worked there). The plant was closed in the 1960s and then torn down to provide space for a new Federal Prison.

Ridge Stone Company 30DM31 un-numbered built by Whitcomb Locomotive Works in 1941 for Houston Shipbuilding. At some point, it was purchased by Blue Ridge Stone and worked as a switcher at the company's complex in Roanoke. Blue Ridge Stone was part of the Boxley company founded by William Wise Boxley. Boxley partnered with J. C. Carpenter to build railroads, working on the New York Central, C&O, B&O and N&W. In 1908, the pair opened their first quarry. Boxley eventually ceased railroad construction, although production of ballast and crushed stone continued, and the company has continued to diversify into the 21st Century.

Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1 4919, nee Pennsylvania Railroad 4917, built by the railroad in 1943. It operated under Pennsy, Penn Central, Conrail and Amtrak until retiring in 1970. Until recently, 4919 had the original Brunswick Green coloured body, with the PRR standard Clarendon lettering. Prior to 1942, the lettering was Futura style. GG1s were geared to operate at 110 mph hauling PRR's main line passenger trains between New York, NY, Washington, DC, and Harrisburg, PA, over the six hundred and fifty-six miles of the system that had been electrified by 1938. They were also geared for lower speeds to haul freight. The GG1 was the longest serving class of locomotive in the world, including steam and diesel: eight still hauled daily New Jersey Transit runs in 1983. They were also the fastest US catenary-supplied electric locomotives until Amtrak's Metroliner arrived in 1969.

Norfolk and Western Top Gon 123760 built by Johnstown America in 1992.

Virginia Central 50 ton diesel-electric switcher 3 built by H.K. Porter built in 1926 for the Virginia Central, the ex-narrow gauge Potomac, Fredericksburg & Piedmont Railroad. It originally operated thirty-eight miles of track between Fredericksburg and Orange, Virginia. In 1926, the Potomac, Fredericksburg & Piedmont was converted to standard gauge and its name was changed to the Virginia Central Railway. In 1938, the entire line was abandoned except for a one mile segment in Fredericksburg which survived until 1983. The 3 appears to have been donated to the museum some time after the main segment of the VC ceased operations.

Southern Railway hopper car 8638 built by Magor Car in 1965.

Southern Railway box car 33348 builder and date unknown.

Virginian Railway hopper car 107768 built by Pullman-Standard in 1952.

Amoco Oil tank car 8465 built by the company in 1919.

Trailer Train flat car 470534 built by Bethlehem Steel in 1956.

Appalachain Power depressed center flat car 1002 built by American Car and Foundry in 1941. During the 1940's, five three phase transformers were installed on this car.

Wheeling and Lake Erie NW2 D-3 built by General Motors in 1941. It was then leased to the Nickel Plate in 1950 as 97 and went to the Wabash in 1961. When the Wabash was acquired in 1964, 97 joined the Norfolk & Western roster, but was sold to the Celanese Corporation in 1966 and worked as "NW2" at the Celco Plant in Pearsburg, Virginia until retired in 1987. It was donated to the museum in 1988. 1.

Norfolk and Western burro crane 4974 built by the railroad in 1910.

American Electric Power Company Glen Lyn 85-ton center-cab switcher 02 built by General Electric

Virginia Central coach 514 built by Pullman Standard in 1956.

Norfolk and Western baggage car 1418 built by Bethlehem Steel in 1928.

Panama Canal Company mule 686 built by General Electric in 1914. It ran along rails parallel to the canal, pulling ships through the Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks at the west end. These so called "mules" were actually used for side-to-side and braking control in the narrow locks, with forward motion provided by the ships' engines. Each mule had a winch operated by the driver, which was played in or out to keep the ship centred in the lock while moving from chamber to chamber. The mules run on rack tracks, to which they were geared. Only three or four "mules" have survived.

Southern Railway coach 1070 "W. Graham Claytor, Jr.", nee Southern Railway 1070 "Point Allerton" built by Pullman in 1926, rebuilt into a open-air coach and outfitted with bench seating and low windows for excursion service and pulled behind Southern Railway and Norfolk & Western Railway steam locomotives.

Norflok Western tool car 521505 built by the railroad built from a 1916 box car.

Nickel Plate Road CY bay window caboose 470, nee Nickel Plate 469, built by International Car in 1969.

Mead Corporation 36 inch gauge switcher 200 built by Plymouth in 1935. It worked at Mead Paper Mills in Lynchburg, Virginia until retired in 1981. It was then donated to the museum by Mead Corporation. Since it had undergone some changes in its forty-six years with the company, Carter Machinery of Salem, Virginia, later restored it to its original condition. Mead Paper Mills started out as Heald's Bark Mills in 1846 with a large paper manufacturing factory on the Lynchburg River and adopted the name Mead in 1882. It has survived a number of acquisitions and mergers and is today part of the Rock-Tenn Company.

Norfolk and Western trailer NWZ 1776 painted in a special red, white and blue scheme to tour the Norfolk and Western's system as a tribute to the United States' 200th birthday.

Carters Brothers Incorporated Richmond, Virginia trailer.

Red Line Incorporated trailer.

Norfolk and Western Storage Mail baggage car 1407 built by Bethlehem in 1927 and owned by the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

Norfolk and Western coach Powhatan Arrow 537 built by Pullman Standard in 1948 and owned by the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

Norfolk and Western GP30 522 built by Elecxtro-Motive Division in 1962, one of three hundred and six GP30s purchased by the N&W. It was retired in 1990, bought by the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society and restored to operation in 2000-2002./P>

Virginia Central coach 524 built by Pullman Standard in 1956.

Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac E8A 1002 built by Electro-Motive Divison in 1948.

Norfolk & Western 4-8-0 1151 built by Norfolk and Western in 1911. It is one of five surviving Norfolk & Western 4-8-0 locomotives. Retired and sold to Virginia Scrap Iron & Metal in 1950, along with M2 1118, M2c 1134 and 2-8-0 917, the so called "Lost Engines of Roanoke" languished in the company's Roanoke yard in South Jefferson Street for nearly fifty years, later joined by Baldwin built Chesapeake Western DS-4-4-600 switchers 662 and 663, along with other rolling stock and tenders.

Conrail SDP45 6670, nee Erie Lackawanna 3639, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1969.

Conrail 25 ton crane 92617, nee Pennsylvania Railroad 85382, built by Ohio in 1952.

Norfolk and Western RP-F6Y slug 9914, rebuilt from either Wabash or Virginian FM H-24-66 units by the NW shops in May and June 1962.

Norfolk and Western 160 ton crane 5400037 built by Industrial Brownhoist in 1919.

Museum scene.

Norfolk Southern 4179 West came through Roanoke while we were there.

One last view of the train shed. We went back inside.

A velocipede inside the museun.

Live steam engine.

A display case of trains.

The O gauge model railroad where the trains were on timers. Elizabeth enjoyed her first visit here and after we acquired several souvenirs, we ended coverage of the Virginia Transportation Museum.

Onward to more railroads

We decided to find the Virginian Railway station in town and we did just that.

Virginian Railway station historicial sign.

Virginian Railway station built in 1909. Overshadowed by the larger Norfolk & Western Railway, this would serve passengers traveling between West Virginia and Norfolk through 1956 when passenger service was discontinued. By 1959, Virginian would merge with Norfolk & Western and the former station would be leased out and subsequently operated as a feed and seed store.

By the late 1990's, the station was threatened with demolition to make way for an expansion of the Carilion bio-tech campus resulting in its placement on the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation's 2000 list of Most Endangered Sites. Operating as the Depot Country Store, on January 29, 2001, the former station suffered severe damage as a result of a fire. Despite the extensive damage, the station was cited for both its unique design and contribution to the railroad industry in Roanoke and has been listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register since April 2003 and the National Register of Historic Places since June 2003.

After the heyday of train travel in the 1920's, by the 1940's the Roanoke station served four passenger trains daily, two east and two west-bound. Railroad passenger traffic nationwide declined after World War II as the traveling public turned to airlines and automobiles. Passenger service through Roanoke on the Virginian ended in 1956.

Norfolk Southern C44-9W 9739 built by General Electric in 2001. From here I drove us north to Eagle Rock.

Chesapeake and Ohio Eagle Rock station. As I was driving away, I spotted a CSX rail train stopped along our route and we stopped for pictures.

CSX 8315 West.

CSX SD40-2 8315, ex. Seaboard System 1239, exx. Seaboard System 8315, nee Louisville and Nashville 1239 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1970.

CSX road slug 2291, nee Chesapeake and Ohio GP35 3531 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1964.

CSX GP40-2 6937, ex. CSXT 6264, nee Western Maryland 4365 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1979. We made our way to Clifton Forge and our next railroad museum.

History of the C&O Railway

The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway traces its origin to the Louisa Railroad of Louisa County, Virginia, begun in 1836, and the James River & Kanawha Canal Company begun 1785, also in Virginia. The C&O of the 1950's and 1960's at its height before the first modern merger, was the product of about 150 smaller lines that had been incorporated into the system over time.

By 1850, the Louisa Railroad had been built east to Richmond and west to Charlottesville and in keeping with its new and larger vision, was renamed Virginia Central. The Commonwealth of Virginia, always keen to help with "internal improvements" not only owned a portion of Virginia Central stock, but incorporated and financed the Blue Ridge Railroad to accomplish the hard and expensive task of crossing the first mountain barrier to the west. Under the leadership of the great early civil engineer Claudius Crozet, the Blue Ridge Railroad built over the mountain, using four tunnels, including the 4,263-foot Blue Ridge Tunnel at the top of the mountain, then one of the longest tunnels in the world.

While the Blue Ridge Railroad attacked the mountains, Virginia Central was building westward from the west foot of the mountains. It crossed the Great Valley of Virginia, The Shenandoah and the Shenandoah range Great North Mountain, reaching a point known as Jackson's River Station at the foot of Alleghany Mountain in 1856. This is the site that would later be called Clifton Forge.

To finish its line across the mountainous territory of the Alleghany Plateau known in old Virginia as the "Transmountaine", the Commonwealth again chartered a state-subsidized railroad called the Covington and Ohio. This company completed important grading work on the Alleghany grade and did considerable work on numerous tunnels over the mountain and westward. It also did a good deal of roadbed work around Charleston on the Kanawha River. Then the War Between the States intervened and work was stopped on the westward expansion.

During the Civil War the Virginia Central was one of the Confederacy's most important lines, carrying food from the Shenandoah region to Richmond and ferrying troops and supplies back and forth as the campaigns frequently surrounded its tracks. On more than one occasion it was used in actual tactical operations, transporting troops directly to the battlefield. But it was a prime target for Federal armies and by the end of the war, had only about five miles of track still in operation and $40 in gold in its treasury.

Following the war, Virginia Central officials realized that they would have to get capital to rebuild from outside the economically devastated South and attempted to attract British interests, without success. Finally, they succeeded in getting Collis P. Huntington of New York interested in the line. He is, of course, the same Huntington that was one of the "Big Four" involved in building the Central Pacific portion of the Transcontinental Railroad, which was at this time just reaching completion. Huntington had a vision of a true transcontinental that would go from sea to sea under one operating management and decided that the Virginia Central might be the eastern link to this system.

Huntington supplied the Virginians with the money needed to complete the line to the Ohio River, through what was now the new state of West Virginia. The old Covington and Ohio's properties were conveyed to the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in keeping with its new mission of linking the Tidewater coast of Virginia with the "Western Waters" of the Ohio River. This was the old dream of the "Great Connection" which had been current in Virginia since Colonial times.

On July 1, 1867, the C&O was completed nine miles from Jackson's River Station to the town of Covington, seat of Alleghany County, Virginia. By 1869, it had crossed Alleghany Mountain, using much of the tunneling and roadway work done by the Covington & Ohio before the war and was running to the great mineral springs resort at White Sulphur Springs, now in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. Here stagecoach connections were made for Charleston and the navigation on the Kanawha River and thus water transportation on the whole Ohio/Mississippi system.

During 1869-1873, the hard work of building through West Virginia was done with large crews working from the new city of Huntington on the Ohio River and White Sulphur much as the Union Pacific and Central Pacific had done in the transcontinental work, and the line was joined at Hawks Nest on January 28, 1873.

Collis Huntington intended to connect the C&O with his Western and Mid-Western holdings but had much other railroad construction to finance and he stopped the line at the Ohio River. Over the next few years, he did little to improve its rough construction or develop traffic. The only connection to the West was by packet boats operating on the Ohio River. Because the great mineral resources of the region had not been fully realized yet, the C&O suffered through the bad times brought on by the financial panic Depression of 1873 and went into receivership in 1878. When reorganized, it was renamed The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company.

During the ten years 1878-1888, C&O's coal resources began to be developed and shipped eastward. In 1881 the Peninsula Subdivision was completed from Richmond to the new City of Newport News located on Hampton Roads, the East's largest ice-free port. Transportation of coal to Newport News where it was loaded on coastwise shipping and transported to the Northeast became a staple of the C&O's business at this time.

In 1888 Huntington lost control of the C&O. A reorganization without foreclosure resulted in his losing his majority interest to the Morgan and Vanderbilt interests, which installed Melville E. Ingalls as President. Ingalls was, at the time, President of the Vanderbilt's Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati & Louisville, The "Big Four System", and held both presidencies concurrently for the next decade. Ingalls installed George W. Stevens as general manager and effective head of the C&O.

In 1889 the Richmond & Alleghany Railroad, which had been built along the tow-path of the defunct James River & Kanawha Canal, was merged into the C&O, giving it a down grade "water level" line from Clifton Forge to Richmond, avoiding the heavy grades of North Mountain and the Blue Ridge on the original Virginia Central route. This "James River Line" remains the principal artery of coal transportation to the present day.

Ingalls and Stevens completely rebuilt the C&O to "modern" standards with ballasted roadbed, enlarged and lined tunnels, steel bridges and heavier steel rails, as well as new, larger cars and locomotives.

In 1888 the C&O built the Cincinnati Division from Huntington down the South bank of the Ohio River and across the river at Cincinnati, connecting with the "Big Four" and other Midwestern Railroads.

From 1900 to 1920, most of the C&O's line tapping the rich bituminous coal fields of southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky were built and the C&O, as it was known throughout the rest of the 20th Century, was essentially in place.

In 1910, C&O merged the Chicago, Cincinnati & Louisville Railroad into its system. This line had been built diagonally across the state of Indiana from Cincinnati to Hammond in the preceding decade. This gave the C&O a direct line from Cincinnati to the great railroad hub of Chicago.

Also in 1910, C&O interests bought control of the Kanawha & Michigan and Hocking Valley lines in Ohio with a view to connecting with the Great Lakes through Columbus. Eventually Anti-trust laws forced C&O to abandon its K&M interests, but it was allowed to retain the Hocking Valley, which operated about 350 miles in Ohio, including a direct line from Columbus to the port of Toledo, and numerous branches southeast of Columbus in the Hocking Coal Fields. But there was no direct connection with the C&O's mainline, now hauling previously undreamed-of quantities of coal. To get its coal up to Toledo and into Great Lakes shipping, C&O contracted with its rival Norfolk & Western to haul trains from Kenova to Columbus. N&W, however, limited this business and the arrangement was never satisfactory.

C&O gained access to the Hocking Valley by building a new line directly from a point a few miles from its huge and growing terminal at Russell, Kentucky to Columbus between 1917 and 1926. It crossed the Ohio River at Limeville, Kentucky to Sciotoville, Ohio, on the great Limeville or Sciotoville bridge which remains today the mightiest bridge every built from point of view of its load capacity. Truly a monument to engineering, but seldom commented on outside engineering circles because of its relatively remote location.

With the connection at Columbus complete, C&O soon was sending more of its high quality metallurgical and steam coal west than East and in 1930, it merged the Hocking Valley into its system.

The next great change for C&O came in 1923 when the great Cleveland financiers, the brother 0. P. and M. J. Van Sweringen, bought controlling interest in the line as part of their expansion of the Nickel Plate Road NKP system. Eventually they controlled the NKP, C&O, Pere Marquette Railway in Michigan and Ontario and Erie Railroads. They managed to control this huge system by a maze of holding companies and interlocking directorships. This house of cards tumbled when the Great Depression began and the Van Sweringen companies collapsed. But the C&O was a strong line and despite the fact that in the early 1930's over 50 percent of American railroads went into receivership, it not only avoided bankruptcy, but took the occasion of cheap labor and materials to again completely rebuild itself.

During the early 1930's when it seemed the whole country was retrenching, C&O was boring new tunnels, adding double track, rebuilding bridges, upgrading the weight of its rail and rebuilding its roadbed, all with money from its principal commodity of haulage: coal. Even in the hard years of the Depression, coal was something that had to be used everywhere and C&O was sitting astride the best bituminous seams in the country.

Because of this great upgrading and building program, C&O was in prime condition to carry the monumental loads needed during World War II. During the War, it transported men and material in unimagined quantities as the United States used the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation as a principal departure point for the European Theater. The invasion of North Africa was loaded here. Of course coal was needed in ever increasing quantities by war industries, and C&O was ready with a powerful, well-organized, well-maintained railway powered by the largest and most modern locomotives.

By the end of the war, C&O was poised to help America during its great growth during the decades following and at mid-century, was truly a line of national importance. It became more so, at least in the public's eye through Robert R. Young, its mercurial Chairman.

Young got control of the C&O through the remnants of the Van Sweringen companies in 1942 and for the next decade he became "the gadfly of the rails", as he challenged old methods of financing and operating railroads and inaugurated many forward-looking advances in technology that have ramifications to the present. He changed the C&O's herald to "C&O for Progress" to embody his ideas that C&O would lead the industry to a new day. He installed a well-staffed research and development department that came up with ideas for passenger service that are thought to be futuristic even now, and for freight service that would challenge the growth of trucking. Young eventually gave up his C&O position to become Chairman of the New York Central before his untimely death in 1958.

During the Young era and following, C&O was headed by Walter J. Tuohy, under whose control the "For Progress" theme continued, though in a more muted way after the departure of Young. During this time, C&O installed the first large computer system in railroading, developed larger and better freight cars of all types, switched reluctantly from steam to diesel motive power and diversified its traffic, which had already occurred in 1947 when it merged into the system the old Pere Marquette Railway of Michigan and Ontario which had been controlled since Van Sweringen days. The PM's huge automotive industry traffic, taking raw materials in and finished vehicles out, gave C&O some protection from the swings in the coal trade, putting merchandise traffic at 50 percent of the company's haulage.

C&O continued to be one of the most profitable and financially sound railways in America and in 1963, started the modern merger era by "affiliating" with the ancient modern of railroads, the Baltimore & Ohio. Avoiding a mistake that would become endemic to later mergers among other lines, a gradual amalgamation of the two lines' services, personnel, motive power and rolling stock and facilities built a new and stronger system, which was ready for a new name in 1972. Under the leadership of the visionary Hays T. Watkins, the C&O, B&O and Western Maryland became Chessie System, taking on the name officially that had been used colloquially for so long for the C&O, after the mascot kitten used in ads since 1934.

Under Watkins' careful and visionary leadership, Chessie System then merged with Seaboard System, itself a combination of great railroads of the Southeast including Seaboard Air Line Railway, Atlantic Coast Line, Louisville & Nashville, Clinchfield and others, to form a new mega-railroad: CSX.

Today, CSX, after taking on 43 percent of Conrail, is one of four major railroad systems left in the country. It is still an innovative leader, true to its roots in Robert Young and "For Progress," the Van Sweringens and their quest for efficiency and standardization, to George Stevens and his dedication to operating efficiency and safety awareness, back to Collis Huntington and his dreams of a transportation empire, and even back to those long forgotten Virginians who started it all to carry their farm produce to market in the 1830's in a different world, the world before the Railroad.

Our Visit

We parked the car and took a few pictures before paying our admission.

Chesapeake & Ohio wooden caboose 90382, nee Columbus, Hocking Valley and Toledo Railway 382, built in 1881. It was retired in 1953 and had been displayed at the Baltimore and Ohio Museum prior to coming to Clifton Forge.

Erie business car 400, nee Cheasapeake and Ohio business car 2 built by Pullman in 1923. It is lettered for Church Street Station Railway in Orlando, Florida.

Chesapeake & Ohio five double bedroom-lounge-observation car 2504 "New River Club" built by Pullman-Standard in 1950. It was rebuilt into business car 29 "Chessie" after the railroad's iconic cat mascot and was used extensively by C&O President Walter Tuohy. The car also hosted other dignitaries, including President Dwight Eisenhower, who used it to travel from Washington D.C. to White Sulphur Springs in 1956 for secret meetings about the construction of a top-secret bunker under the Greenbrier Hotel to house members of Congress in the event of a Cold War attack. It was donated to the museum by Al Barbour in 2019

We went into the depot and paid to visit this museum.

Chesapeake & Ohio SD40 7534, ex. CSX 8393, exx. CSX 4617, nee Chesapeake & Ohio 7534 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1971.

A recreation of Chesapeake and Ohio's JD interlocking tower.

The Henry Hoffman Heritage Center which we would visit after seeing all of their equipment.

The pride and joy of this museum is Chesapeake & Ohio 4-8-4 614 built by Lima in 1948, now known as the Greenbrier Presidental Express. Although usually known as Northern type locomotives, the Chesapeake & Ohio decided to give its 4-8-4s a different name. The railroad's Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, which was then known for its luxury and prestige, thus formed the basis for the name "Greenbrier" that was applied to them. In all, the Chesapeake & Ohio would roster twelve 4-8-4s. They were designed to haul long, heavy high-speed express passenger trains such as the George Washington and the Fast Flying Virginian.

Like most steam locomotives built after WWII, the J-3s had a comparatively short life. All twelve were retired in 1955, although a number were briefly reactivated in 1956, including 614. Shortly after, all, except 614, were scrapped and the locomotive went into storage in Russell, Kentucky, until 1975, when it was donated to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore by the Chessie System, successor to the C&O. In 1979, the museum traded 614 with Ross Rowland for Reading 2101, which had been damaged in fire.

The following year, the restored locomotive hauled the Chessie Safety Express, working through 1981. The locomotive was then kept in Hagerstown, Maryland until 1985 when it began a short-lived experiment as an alternative to rising oil costs by burning a type of coal known as ACE 3000. It then returned to Baltimore. In 1998, 614 was moved into storage on the Reading & Northern Railroad in Port Clinton, Pennsylvania. In 1992, 614 steamed again to demonstrate Rowland's vision of his proposed 21st Century Express. One side of the locomotive was shrouded in blue streamlining and the headlight was centered.

Three years later, 614 was pulled to the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad in Pennsylvania for a complete overhaul. The overhaul was completed in 1996 and the locomotive was moved to Hoboken, New Jersey, from where it hauled a series of very successful excursions to Port Jervis, New York and return. In 1998, 614 went into storage on the Reading & Northern Railroad in Port Clinton. Two years later, Rowland put the locomotive up for auction but no buyers met the reserve price. In May 2011, 614 was again moved to the C&O Railway Heritage Center in Clifton Forge. From there, it was repainted in preparation for display for the Greenbrier Presidential Express. Unfortunately, the Greenbrier Express project was cancelled in May 2012 due to lack of funding and capacity problems on the CSX portion of the route, where a lack of passing sidings makes it difficult for eastbound trains to gain headway against the flow of westbound empty coal trains. The diesels and passenger cars were auctioned off and the 614 continues to sit on display at Clifton Forge.

Chesapeake and Ohio GP7 5828 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1952.

Chesapeake and Ohio caboose 90086 built by Magor Car Company in 1941, now numbered 903572.

Chesapeake and Ohio wide vision caboose 3168 built by International Car in 1968.

Chesapeake and Ohio combine 458 built by Bethlehem in 1926 and during its last 20 years of service, worked on the mixed train between Clifton Forge and Hot Springs, Virginia.

Chesapeake and Ohio dining car 965 "Gadsby's Tavern" built by Pullman in 1922 and used on C&O's George Washington passenger train starting in 1932 (the world’s first long-distance air-conditioned train).

Chesapeake & Ohio 10-6 sleeper 2655 "City of Athens" built by Pullman in 1950, then sold to the Baltimore and Ohio and became "City of Petoskey". Used on C&O then sold to B&O and used on its trains for many years. C&O operated 55 of this type sleeping car.

Chesapeake and Ohio caboose 90219 built by American Car and Foundry in 1968.

United States Army troop sleeper, number unknown, built by Pullman in 1943. It was later sold to Chesapeake and Ohio who converted it to maintenance-of-way car 940301

Chesapeake and Ohio flat car 80435 built by Bethlehem in 1936.

Chesapeake and Ohio baggage car 389 built by Pullman in 1929.

Chespeake and Ohio 52 seat coach 1632 built by Pullman-Standard in 1950.

Chesapeake and Ohio baggage car 389 built by Pullman in 1929.

This car is in bad shape, identity unknown.

Chesapeake and Ohio box cars, could be either 19398 or 19426, as well as one unknown box car.

Chesapeake and Ohio coach-lounge 1603, ex. Amtrak 4831, exx. Anmtrak 4404, exxx. Seaboard Coast Line 5103, exxx. Altantic Coast Line 273, nee Cheasapeke and Ohio 1603, built by Budd Company in 1948.

CSX caboose 16462 built by International Car in Operation Redblock paint scheme. Operation RedBlock is a union-initiated, management-supported program that uses peer involvement to prevent employee use of alcohol and/or drugs while on duty or subject to call. More than 3,000 operating employees at CSX are trained as prevention committee volunteers.

Future turntable parts are at the south end of the yard.

Auxillary tender 614A for Chesapeake & Ohio 4-8-4 614.

Vintage Locomotives Inc. E9A 4096, ex. New York Central E9A 4096, exx. Amtrak 417 1972, nee Union Pacific 912, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1963. It was sold to Connecticut Valley Railroad Museum in Essex, Connecticut in February 1985, changed to The Railroad Museum of New England in 1988 then painted and numbered as New York Central 4096 in July 1986. In 1996, it was sold to Ed Bowers of Vintage Locomotives, Incorporated, when the museum moved to nearby Waterbury, Connecticut. It was moved to Danbury Railway Museum in June 1997 and moved during early June 2017 from Connecticut to Waycross, Georgia.

Central of New Jersey coach 333, ex. Missouri Pacific 492, exx. Chesapeake and Ohio 754, nee Chesapeake & Ohio parlor car 1803 "Elk Lake" built by Pullman Standard in 1950.

Murals of Chesapeake and Ohio's largest steam engines. From here we walked into the Heritage Center.

Chesapeake and Ohio model engines and caboose.

Model of Chesapeake & Ohio 4-6-4 463.

Model of Chesapeake & Ohio 4-6-2 471 built by Dennis R. Harless between 1967 and 1976.

Model of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-0 1210.

Model of Heisler 1.

Locomotive bell.

Chesapeake & Ohio female uniform.

Model of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-6 1607 built in 1982 by Amdy Clerici of Napa, California. It is on loan to this museum courtesy of Union Station Kansas City.

Model of Chesapeake & Ohio 4-8-4 605 built by S.W. Stouffer between 1973 and 1979 it operated on tracks of West Penn Live Steamers between 1980 and 1986.

Model of Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Express Agency 312 built by S.W. Stouffer.

Travel the Chessie Corridor ... there is more to see.

1969 to 1994 Chesapeake and Ohio 25th Anniversary banner.

Clifton Forge elevation 1065 and East Allengheny station boards.

Informaton boards of 1210, 1508, 1659 and 614 engines.

George Washington was a surveyor for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway.

George Washington and the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway.

This mural entitled History of Transportation was installed in the front hallway of the Clifton Forge High School around 1948 and was installed here in 2008. The artist who painted it is unknown.

Station boards from around the Chesapeake & Ohio area. The two of us then went outside.

A Chesapeake & Ohio signal.

JD tower and the replica station here in Clifton Forge. We returned to the station and prchased some items.

Railroad crossing crossbuck sign. We drove over to Jack Mason Tavern and Brewery Restaurant but it did not open until 4:00 PM so Elizabeth checked on the westbound Cardinal and we walked over to the station.

CSX ES44DC 5383 was in the yard.

CSX AC44CW 534 was also in the yard.

Chesapeake and Ohio Clifton Forge Amtrak station built in 1871.

CSX ES40DC 5365 came in with a freight from the east.

The Cardinal, Amtrak train 51, arrived and the crew gave the passengers an extended fresh air break.

Viewliner II sleeper 62504 "Raritan River" was in the consist.

Viewliner II dorm sleeper 69008, the first of these cars that I have seen.

>Amtrak P42 147 was on the point of the train.

Viewliner II sleeper 62504 "Raritan River"

Viewliner II dorm sleeper 69008.

The Cardinal left Clifton Forge for Chicago. We walked back to the restaurant and both enjoyed dinner then drove the short distance to the Red Lantern Inn for the night.