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Louisa

C&O Milepost 146.5


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Station Number: 147
Code Number: 0215
Telegraph Callsign: CU

The county of Louisa was formed from Hanover County in 1742. It was named for Princess Louise, the daughter of King George II and Queen Caroline of England. The first courthouse, located about one mile from the present courthouse complex, was built on Beaver Creek (now the Tanyard Branch) on the Talley Farm. One of the first acts of the Louisa County Court was the establishment of a tavern near the courthouse. The tavern and court house became the core of the town of Louisa. In 1800 a post office was established at Louisa Courthouse and in 1838 the Louisa Railroad reached the town. The arrival of the railroad was a great benefit and greatly spurred the town’s development. From the late 1890’s to the 1920’s Louisa was known as a summer resort. In addition to the Louisa Hotel, local families also took in what they called “summer boarders.” Louisa was also the site of several schools throughout the 1880’s. In 1993, the town of Louisa (and the station in particular) starred in the movie Foreign Student.

The first station in Louisa was destroyed by fire and replaced in 1860. That station was replaced in 1868, perhaps because of damaged inflicted during the War. The new station was, in turn, replaced by the station pictured below in 1899 for a total cost of $386. In November, 1923 a platform and curb were added to the station area. In November of 1930 an automobile unloading platform was built along track number 868. In 1937, according to the Side Track Record, Louisa boasted a 2019' passing track (track number 867), a 603' spur (track number 868) serving the Sinclair Refining Company, a 577' house track (track number 869), and a 334' set off track (track number 870). In July, 1943 one of the spur tracks was retired. In September, 1943 the passing track was extended and a spur track retired1. The stock pen was retired in 1948. The 1950 Industrial Directory listed a 4 car team track in Louisa. The team track served the coal yard of Mrs. C. D. Flanagan, the Louisa Feed Service, and the Woolfolk & Co. textile plant. The town also still had its auto loading and unloading dock. In 1956 a crossover track (track number 2699) was built between the passing track and the spur (track number 868). A spur was built east of Louisa, between mile posts 144 and 145 in 1978 to service the Louisa Feed Service. Agency services at Louisa station were discontinued in November of 1979 and agency functions were transferred to Gordonsville. In 1980 the crossover track became part of track 868. The house track was retired in April, 1991.

1 It’s not clear from my sources whether one spur (most likely the set off track) was retired and listed twice or whether both spur tracks were retired. I’m inclined to believe that only the set off track was retired in 1943.

Photos


The Louisa station was built in 1899 to the C&O’s 1892 standard. This design was a hallmark of the C&O. It’s unclear, though, whether the design originated with the C&O or the Wabash, which also built stations of this design. The station is still standing and is owned by CSX. Until recently, it was leased to the Maddox Feed Store and was used as a storage building. When the lease expired, the Buckingham Branch declined to renew it. (Photo taken in 1998 by Larry Z. Daily. Bottom photo 1982 by Ron Huffman, used with permission.)
This view shows the Louisa station in January of 1973, as seen from the rear of Amtrak’s train #98. (LaVerne Brummel photo, used with permission)
This photo shows the station in 1982. The photo was one of the first to give me a glimpse of the building that used to stand to the east of the freight station; the peak of its roof is visible just above the freight house. (Photo by Ron Huffman, used with permission.)
This view of the depot area, from October of 1985, shows more detail of the building to the east of the station and another building beyond that. (Photographer unknown. From a photo in the collection of Larry Z. Daily.)
This is the interior of the waiting room between the operator’s bay and the express room. I’m assuming that under Jim Crow this one was the “colored” waiting room. Two other waiting rooms were located on the other side of the bay; I assume that one was originally for white men and the other one for white women. Seeing the layout of the station is a graphic reminder of the history of race in this country. The other two waiting rooms were significantly altered at some point to accommodate restrooms. (2013 photo)
This is the interior of the agent’s office looking toward the bay window. That’s Gary Smith, a very generous contributor to this site, checking out the files. (2013 photo)
This photo, taken from almost the same spot as LaVerne’s, shows the area today. It was taken by Wayne Owen, a track inspector for the Buckingham Branch Railroad. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something really cool about this picture. (Wayne Owen photo, used with permission)
Buckingham Branch let the feedstore lease on Louisa station expire not long ago. They have since given the station a new metal roof, a coat of paint, and they did some work on the foundation. This 2015 photo shows the station all cleaned up. As far as I’m concerned, the Buckingham Branch deserves some kind of award. (Gary Smith photo, used with permission)
As noted above, my sources indicated that the curbing and platform around the station were added in 1923. In January of 2010 I visited the area and snapped this photo of the curbing around the station. It suggests that the curbing, at least, was started in 1921.

This freight house stands directly to the east of the station. The house track once ran behind this building. A sign on the back corner of the east end warns that there’s no clearance for a man on the side of a car. (1998 photo)
These three photos show the interior of the freight house at Louisa. The scale still seems to function; it did something when I stepped on it (please keep the comments about that to yourself). There was an old train order hoop in the corner along with 3 wooden hand trucks, one still sporting C&O lettering. (2013 photos)

This postcard image shows an aerial view of Louisa. The station area looks quite different than in the above 1973 photo. The building directly behind the station is the Maddox feed store; the building to the left is a Southern States Cooperative. (From the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
Another postcard image, this time of the downtown area after a snow. (From the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
This undated postcard image shows the Louisa Hotel. (From the collection of Larry Z. Daily)

This vermiculite loading facility stands to the east of the station. According information provided by Jerry Simonoff, the only company mining vermiculite in Virginia is Virginia Vermiculite, suggesting that the facility was built for them. That conclusion is supported by a C&O engineering drawing provided by Gary Smith, which shows that the railroad leased the land to Virginia Vermiculite and built the facility in 1978. (1998 photo)
Here’s a trackside view of the vermiculite loading operation. The Louisa Depot is to the right. (1997, Jerry Simonoff photo, used with permission)

The C&O’s Sidetrack Records for 1937 showed an automobile unloading ramp on track 868. During my January, 2010 visit I discovered that someone had cleared away the brush that had grown up around the vermiculite loader that is also on track 868. Whoever it was also uncovered this platform which, I believe, is the old auto ramp.

The C&O’s Sidetrack Records for 1937 showed a siding serving a Sinclair Refining in Louisa. On a 2004 visit to photograph the vermiculite loading facility I found the remains of the old Sinclair siding. (2004 photo)

This image is from a slide obtained in an eBay purchase. It was taken on September 25, 1977 just outside Louisa. According to this Chessie Steam Special page, this photo shows one of the Chessie Steam Special trains. This train, with 2 Western Maryland F7’s on the head end, was a one-way trip from Newport News to Baltimore via Gordonsville. Other views of this train can be seen on the Hanover and Mineral pages. (Photo by James C. Herold. From a slide in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)

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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