Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Arlington in Arlington County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Tracks Into History

The Washington & Old Dominion Railroad

 
 
Tracks Into History Marker image. Click for full size.
By Roger Dean Meyer, September 11, 2007
1. Tracks Into History Marker
Inscription. Time Line
March 20, 1847 - Incorporated as the Alexandria & Harper’s Ferry Railroad.
March 15, 1853 - The corporate name changes to the Alexandria, Loudoun & Hampshire Railroad Company.
February 25, 1855 - Construction begins near Alexandria.
May 17, 1860 - First train from Alexandria to Leesburg.
1861 – 1865 - Railroad construction, and some service, is interrupted by the Civil War.
June 1, 1867 - Train service is restored from Alexandria to Leesburg.
March 29, 1870 - Name is changed to the Washington & Ohio Railroad Company.
April 1, 1874 - Railroad completed to Purcellville. The company passes quickly through a number of ownerships starting January 31, 1882 when it becomes the Washington & Western Railroad. Then on May 9, 1883, it becomes the Washington, Ohio & Western Railroad. On October 30, 1886, the line is leased by the Richmond & Danville Railroad. Finally, the railroad becomes the Bluemont Branch when purchased by the Southern Railway Company on June 28, 1894.
Early 1900 - The terminus of the railroad
Three Markers including Tracks Into History at the trailhead of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail image. Click for full size.
By Roger Dean Meyer, September 8, 2007
2. Three Markers including Tracks Into History at the trailhead of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail
was reached when the line was completed to Snickersville (Bluemont).
July 1, 1912 - The railroad becomes the Washington & Old Dominion Railway Company. Late 1912 - The railroad converts from steam to electric power.
April 16, 1936 - The name changes for the final time when it becomes the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Company.
February, 1939 - Railroad service is discontinued west of Purcellville.
April 1941 - Passenger service is discontinued but starts up a year later as a result of World War II. All passenger service is ended May 31,1951.
Early 1940’s - Railroad changes from electric to diesel power.
August 27, 1968 - W&OD freight service ends and the line is abandoned. Virginia Electric and Power Company (Virginia Power) immediately buys the property to protect its existing easements and for future expansion.
1978 - After six years of negotiations with Virginia Power, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority purchases the right-of-way from Shirlington to Purcellville for use as a multi-use trail which is completed in 1988.

The Washington & Old Dominion Railroad
The
Steam Engine and Crew at Herndon Station, July 1910 image. Click for full size.
By Roger Dean Meyer, September 8, 2007
3. Steam Engine and Crew at Herndon Station, July 1910
railroad that became the Washington & Old Dominion was born in Alexandria in response to the competition in shipping posed by the port of Baltimore, which was served by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The B&O was diverting farm products from the Shenandoah Valley away from Alexandria by way of its junction with the Winchester & Potomac Railroad. It also had access to the rich coalfields of the Ohio Valley.

A group of northern Virginia businessmen formed the Alexandria, Loudoun & Hampshire Railroad, with the first train reaching Leesburg from Alexandria on May 17, 1860. Their goal was to reach the farmlands and coalfields and recapture the trade that was slipping away.

Because of financial problems, this goal was never achieved and the railroad terminated in the town of Bluemont, Virginia. To survive, the rail line picked up business wherever possible. The railroad hauled farm products from the Fairfax and Loudoun countryside into Washington, carried mail for the Federal government, provided freight service to and from the many towns and communities springing up along the line and furnished passenger service for the many commuters working in Washington. A specialized
Electric Passenger Train near Bluemont, Virginia, 1939 image. Click for full size.
By Roger Dean Meyer, September 8, 2007
4. Electric Passenger Train near Bluemont, Virginia, 1939
service promoted by the railroad was an excursion line for vacationers wanting to reach the cooler temperatures and resorts in Loudoun Valley.

The railroad was only modestly successful throughout its life, although it experienced a boom during the fuel shortage years of World War II. After that, with improvements to the road systems and motor vehicles, business declined quickly. By 1951, passenger service had ended and, in 1968, the rail line was abandoned.
 
Erected by Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad marker series.
 
Location. 38° 50.655′ N, 77° 5.147′ W. Marker is in Arlington, Virginia, in Arlington County. Marker is at the intersection of South Four Mile Run Drive and South Shirlington Road, in the median on South Four Mile Run Drive. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Arlington VA 22206, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Washington and Old Dominion Trail (here, next to this marker); Nauck: A Neighborhood History
Diesel Engines pulling cars near Bowman's Distillery (Reston), 1958 image. Click for full size.
By Roger Dean Meyer, September 11, 2007
5. Diesel Engines pulling cars near Bowman's Distillery (Reston), 1958
(here, next to this marker); Margaret Elizabeth Pfohl Campbell (approx. ¼ mile away); Drew School (approx. 0.3 miles away); Elizabeth Pfohl Campbell (approx. 0.3 miles away); Edmund Douglas Campbell (approx. 0.3 miles away); Macedonia Baptist Church (approx. 0.4 miles away); Fort Barnard (approx. half a mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Arlington.
 
More about this marker. This is one in a set of standard markers alongside the W&OD Trail. The marker features three pictures: A steam engine at Herndon Station, July 1910; An electric passenger train near Bluemount in 1939; and a diesel engine near Reston in 1958.
 
Also see . . .
1. The History of Loudoun County Virginia. The article within the site is titled “Washington and Old Dominion Railroad – At the End of the Line, An Opportunity Lost” (Submitted on September 14, 2007, by Roger Dean Meyer of Yankton, South Dakota.) 

2. The Washington and Old Dominion Railroad. Book by Ames Williams available on Amazon.com (Submitted on May 7, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.) 

3. Rails to the Blue Ridge: The Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, 1847 - 1968. Book by Herbert Harwood available on Amazon.com (Submitted on May 7, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.) 
 
Categories. Railroads & Streetcars
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Roger Dean Meyer of Yankton, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 1,879 times since then and 142 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Roger Dean Meyer of Yankton, South Dakota. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Paid Advertisement