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Green Valley in 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.
Photographed 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
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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 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
Three Markers including Tracks Into History at the trailhead of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Roger Dean Meyer, September 8, 2007
2. Three Markers including Tracks Into History at the trailhead of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail
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 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
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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 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.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Railroads & Streetcars. In addition, it is included in the NOVA Parks, and the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Railroad series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is January 31, 1882.
 
Location. 38° 50.655′ N, 77° 5.147′ W. Marker is in Arlington, Virginia, in Arlington County. It is in Green Valley. Marker is at the intersection of South Four Mile Run Drive and South Shirlington Road, in the median on South Four Mile Run Drive. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Arlington VA 22206, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
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 (here, next to this marker); This is W&OD Trail: Shirlington! (a few steps from this marker); Mid-Late 1800's (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Green Valley (about 600 feet away); Late 1800's (about 600 feet away); 1911 (about 600 feet away); 1930's (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map 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.) This website may earn income if you use this link to make a purchase on Amazon.com. 

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.) This website may earn income if you use this link to make a purchase on Amazon.com. 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 1, 2023. It was originally submitted on September 14, 2007, by Roger Dean Meyer of Yankton, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 2,477 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 14, 2007, by Roger Dean Meyer of Yankton, South Dakota. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.

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Feb. 24, 2024