Arlington in Arlington County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
As of 1912 Bluemont Junction served as the hub of the multi-line Washington & Old Dominion Railway. One line ran between Georgetown and Great Falls. The other was the former Southern Railway branch between Alexandria and Bluemont, Virginia.
To serve commuters from the Virginia suburbs and vacationers traveling from the city to resort towns in western Loudoun County, the W&OD's owners moved the eastern passenger terminal from downtown Alexandria to Georgetown. Much freight traffic, however, still moved in and out of Alexandria. All eastbound and westbound trains, whether they carried people or freight, now passed through Bluemont Junction.
Erected by The Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park - Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad marker series.
Location. 38° 52.386′ N, 77° 7.958′ W. Marker is in Arlington, Virginia, in Arlington County. Marker can be reached from North Manchester Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Great Falls Line (here, next to this marker); Rosslyn Station (here, next to this marker); Bluemont Junction, ca. 1934 (a few steps from this marker); Tracks into History (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Confederate Outpost (about 700 feet away); Mary Carlin House (approx. 0.4 miles away); Southern-Shreve Cemetery (approx. 0.6 miles away); Glencarlyn Station (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Arlington.
More about this marker. The background of the marker is a photo of Bluemont Junction in 1945, looking west. The track from Alexandria comes in at far left. An inset map in the upper right is captioned, A Washington & Old Dominion Railway map shows the extent of the railroad in its heyday, about 1920. The red dot marks Bluemont Junction
Also see . . . W & OD Railroad. Wikipedia article detailing the history of the railroad and a listing of the train stations. (Submitted on November 28, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
1. Memories of a W&OD Railroad Employee
My mother and I had moved into a house in Dominion Hills in April 1947. I graduated from Washington-Lee High School in June 1957. The following month I was working on the tracks out of Bluemont Junction under Roger Fox, the foreman for that division of the W&OD, only five blocks from our house on Lebanon Street.
I had been trying unsuccessfully to find local employment somewhere in the Washington area following graduation. One particularly hot afternoon in July about 4:00 I was walking home over the tracks at the base of Wilson Boulevard when I noticed a group of men unloading track equipment from a gang car into the work shed. On a lark, I walked up to Mr Fox and asked him for a job working track. Without any other word, he asked, “Can you do hard work?” “Yes,” I replied. “Be here tomorrow morning at 7:00.”
He was right; the work was exhausting, especially in mid-summer. You may find it hard to believe, but my youthful background was as a classically trained trombonist, which was my life goal. Nevertheless, I kept up with Mr Fox and his crew for the next two years. Our turf was from Potomac Yards to shortly beyond Falls Church. On special occasions — usually big derailings, which were not infrequent on grossly deteriorated ties unable to
The whole W&OD crew was never very large. Roger Fox, Willie Nickens, Gene Shutts (brother of Randolph, a W&OD brakeman), William Barber, Dolf Cunningham, Douglas Lee and all the others . . . I remember them fondly for some very specific reasons. They taught me how to work cooperatively with men. Three, then four, men in a circle in turn driving home one spike while the others heckled and cheered with their eyes glued to the second hands of their clocks. Sounds easy? They taught me, by example, how to help the weaker among us. When someone came to work on Monday morning drunk, that part of the load he couldnít handle was taken up by the others, with constant ribbing (without humiliation) of the slacker. He got his chance to return the insults elsewhere the following Monday! They truly were a good-natured bunch to work with.
Sometime in my second year I began working brakeman, often on night runs to Potomac Yards and then home to the shed in Rosslyn. But I also stayed on the tracks to the end of my time on the W&OD.
Well, after two years, I decided the time had come to move on. I left the W&OD in September 1959 to continue my studies as a classical trombonist. That took me to Baltimore to study for three years (with
My two years with the W&OD and its crews remain vivid memories. I still have my brass switch lock key, stamped “W&OD,” a five-volume set of The Science of Railways (Cropley Phillips Co., Chicago, 1913) by Marshall Monroe Kirkman (1842-1921) I had bought in the late 1950s, a freight logbook dated May 1956
with the signatures of H.E. Cunningham, F.H. Cunningham, D.N. Cunningham, A.D. Shutts, H.L.
Ritchie, E.E. Chidester, D.C. Mahoney, V.O. Haines, R. Shutts, D. See, B. Jet, Laintzy, C.O. Crossman, C.E. Leppe, W.W. Cole, and Lawrence E. Cunningham), my two pocket watches (Waltham and Westclox), three unused antique business envelopes printed for the W&OD, some of my pay stubs, and my lantern. I suppose that some day these mementos will go to the W&OD Museum in Bluemont Junction.
Iím writing an autobiography within a much larger family history, which will include a great deal more information than Iíve written here about the W&OD during the 1950s. Visits to Arlington several times yearly give me many chances to visit sites closely tied to the local history of the W&OD.
For persons interested in the history of the W&OD, there is an unusual collection of maps of Arlington and rare newspaper reports about the railroad, especially its last five or so years of existence, held in the Washingtoniana Division and The Washington Star Collection of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G Street N.W., Washington, D.C. There also are maps and related materials about the W&OD in different eras of its history in the collections of The Library of Congress in Washington.
— Submitted January 3, 2012, by Andre M. Smith of New York City, New York.
Categories. • Railroads & Streetcars •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 28, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,895 times since then and 226 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on November 28, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.