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Keswick

C&O Milepost 174.1


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Station Number: 174
Code Number: 0292
Telegraph Callsign: K

The C&O (as the Louisa Railroad) reached Keswick, or at least the Keswick area, in 1848. According to the Corporate History filed as part of the 1916 ICC Valuation Report, the Louisa Railroad completed 7 miles of track between Cobham and Rogers Mills in 1848. That would be very near the location of Keswick. Keswick was established in 1849 when the Virginia Central built a depot where its line crossed the road from Charlottesville to Gordonsville. The name came from the estate crossed by the line; Keswick was the home of the Rev. Thornton Rogers (I believe that the home was originally built by Colonel James Clark on land that had been part of Peter Jefferson’s Shadwell holdings).

On January 22, 1849, the local post office was moved ¾ of a mile from nearby Everettsville. For the first 17 days the new post office was known as Roger’s Turnout. Then, on February 8, the name was changed to Keswick Depot. In August of 1887 the name was changed to Keswick. At first the Post Office was located in the depot. It then moved to a store owned by a Mr. Henry Jackson. Jackson’s general store faced the depot from the south and was located along Rt. 731. In 1953 the post office moved again, this time to a location along Rt. 22.

The station burned, all but the brick walls, in March of 1865. It was rebuilt the following year. The rebuilt station was itself replaced in 1909.

In 1937 Keswick had an attractive brick station, a 1859' passing siding and a 457' house track. The tracks were realigned in Keswick to provide a curve reduction right after World War II*. This was most likely in preparation for the ill-starred Chessie. As a result, the tracks no longer passed the brick depot and a new depot was built along the newly realigned tracks. The tracks at the old depot were finally removed in 1960. The new depot, while not as ornate or impressive as the old one, does have its own claim to fame. It was used in the 1956 film Giant starring Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor. It was closed on June 30, 1967.

The town was a flag stop for the FFV in 1947, had a station and agent as of 1948 and, as of 1963, still had a siding and a passenger station. The C&O’s 1950 Industrial Directory showed that Keswick had a 7 car team track and a stock pen. The team track served the H. W. Johnson coal yard. The Dominion Chemical Company also had a private siding in Keswick.

* - According to McChord, the 1909 brick station was sold for non-railroad use and the cinderblock station built in 1942.

Photos


The top two photos show the Keswick depot in its incarnation as the Little Keswick School. The building served as Keswick’s station until 1947 when a curve reduction moved the tracks away from this site. According to Chuck McIntyre, “... if you look at old topo[graphical] maps you can see the old grade going to the brick station, and next to rt 22 between the two stations are some abutments where the line crossed a creek, and a fill.” The bottom photo was added to my collection in early 2012 and shows some dapper — and obviously thirsty — young men at the Keswick depot when it was in operation. Does any one have any idea who they are? (Top two photos 1998; bottom photo undated)

This is the second Keswick station. It was apparently built in 1947 after the track realignment moved the line away from the prior station building. In 1956 it starred in a movie. After closing in 1967 it was a clothing stored called the Hen House Depot and then a shoe outlet. It is now abandoned and falling to pieces. (1998 photos)
This is Keswick station dressed up as Ardmore in the 1956 film Giant. This image and the movie Giant belong to Warner Brothers and my use of this image is not meant to indicate otherwise.

This is the siding at Keswick. It serves Commonwealth Propane (based on observation) and also functions as a team track (conjecture based on the loading platform outside Commonwealth’s property). The platform and ramp were built in April, 1972.(1998 photo)

Before the realignment, the line used to parallel Rt. 22 more than it does now. These bridge abutments are still visible from the road between the old and the new station locations. (2005 photos)

Map


This map was prepared from U.S.G.S. topological maps, C&O track charts dated 1963, C&O Side Track Records dated 1937, a copy of the Side Track Records updated through the 1990’s, and C&O Valuation maps, also updated through the 1990’s.

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