Image of the C&O for Progress monogram Image of the C&O for Progress monogram A graphic image of the words C&O Piedmont Subdivision

The C&O’s Washington Subdivision


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At only 9 miles in length, the C&O’s Washington Sub doesn’t seem likely to inspire its own Web site. As a result, I’ve decided to include some information on it here. The Sub began in Orange, Virginia, 9.04 miles north of Gordonsville. It terminated in a junction with the Piedmont Sub in Gordonsville (but see here). North of Orange, C&O trains operated over Southern tracks to Alexandria, the RF&P’s Potomac yard, and Washington’s Union Station.

The line was built by the Orange and Alexandria Railroad in 1850 to 1854. The C&O began running trains over it in 1891 under trackage rights negotiated with the Virginia Midland. By that point the Midland had built its own line from Orange to Charlottesville in order to avoid running over the C&O between Gordonsville and Charlottesville. Under the agreement reached with the Virginia Midland, the C&O leased the tracks from Gordonsville to Orange and then ran over Midland tracks to Alexandria. From Alexandria the C&O reached the Virginia end of the Long Bridge over the Potomac using the Washington Southern Railway. From there, the C&O reached Sixth Street Station in DC on the tracks of the Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington. Later, the crossing of the Potomac was on Pennsylvania rails and the final leg was on the tracks of the Washington Terminal Company.

At the time of the agreement with the Virginia Midland, the line from Gordonsville to Alexandria was single track. There were long stretches of straight track and few steep grades. The C&O was given the right to build coaling stations and oil and sand houses along the line, but never exercised that right. Water tanks were located at Manassas, Calverton, Remington, and Rapidan. A fifth tank was later built at Burke. Between 1902 and 1904 the Southern double-tracked the line from Alexandria to Orange. The Southern retired the water tanks after dieselization. The last tank, at Remington, remained open until 1953 as a courtesy to the C&O.

The lease and trackage rights agreement was up for renewal in 1990. CSX had acquired control of the RF&P and no longer needed the Orange to Washington section and so that part of the agreement was allowed to lapse. The lease on the Gordonsville to Orange section, however, was renewed. In December, 2004 the Buckingham Branch Railroad entered into a 20 year lease that allows them to operate, among other former C&O lines, the former Piedmont and Washington Subs. In March, 2011 the Buckingham Branch eliminated the Washington Sub and extended the North Mountain Sub (the former C&O Mountain Sub) to Gordonsville. The line to Orange is now known as the Orange Sub.

The C&O operated no local freight or passenger trains over this line. Through passenger trains could stop to pick up or discharge passengers from C&O points.

Photos


M.P. 7.4

This siding, now obviously out of service, once served Carter Lumber. (2013 photo)

M.P. 1.3

This coaling tower is, I am told, a Fairbanks Morse automatic coaling station. About a mile south of Orange, it was the last opportunity for C&O locomotives to take on coal before entering Southern Railway for the run to Washington. The supply house is also still standing and there are (or were) extra scoops for the loader inside. (Top photo by Larry Z. Daily, 2013. Bottom two photos by Gary Smith, 2014. Used with permission.)

Orange M.P. 0

This shed stands just outside Orange near a grade crossing and the former site of a siding. If you look closely in the large version of the photo, you can see the rails of the siding behind and to the right of the shed. The siding served the industry visible in the left background. (2001 photo)
During a 2010 trip I found that all that was left of the siding visible in the photo above was the rails embedded in the grade crossing. (2010 photo)
This siding still exists, but looks like it hasn’t been used in a long time. (2010 photo)
Bridge number 02 is on the C&O line just outside of Orange where it crosses over Route 20. The top photo is from 1995, when I got my first look at it as an adult . The bottom photo is from a 2010 trip.
This cantilever signal stands just south of the station in Orange. The signal bridge isn’t a C&O standard bridge, but the signal head is standard C&O. (2013 photo)
Here’s the cantilever signal bridge from the other side. Jack Spangler snapped this shot from the rear of a passenger train in 1978. The view is south, toward Gordonsville. (1978 photo by Jack Spangler. Used with permission.)

This is the Southern Railway’s station in Orange. Both Southern and C&O trains stopped here. The station was built in 1910 to replace an older station destroyed by fire in 1908. It was purchased by the city of Orange in 1993 and is now a visitor’s center. This image is from an undated postcard. (From a postcard in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
The Orange station on May 29, 1970. The photo seems to have been taken from onboard a train, but I have no information about which one. (Photographer unknown. From a slide in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
This image is from a July 2, 1971 photo by an unknown photgrapher. (From a photo in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
It’s June of 1974 and trains no longer stop here. (Photographer unknown. From a slide in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
Here’s the station in — I think — 1978. Jack Spangler sent this shot to me at the same time that he sent the photo of the signal bridge above, so I'm guessing that they were taken on the same trip. (Photo by Jack Spangler. Used with permission.)
It’s mid-July and sunny, so I’m guessing that it must have been hot when this image was taken. (July 19, 1980 photo. Photographer unknown. From a slide in the collection of Larry Z. Daily.)
I took this photo of the Orange station — now a visitor’s center — in 1998.

Culpepper

This postcard photo shows the Southern’s Culpeper depot. The postcard is postmarked 1906. (From the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
The Culpeper depot in 1982. (Ron Huffman photo, used with permission.)
In this photo, from a 1956 postcard, E8 4006 leads the Sportsman through Culpeper, Virginia. (Photo by Clarence Cade. From a postcard in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)

Remington

I won this photo on eBay. The seller wasn’t sure that it shows the Remington station in Virginia, but the station in the photo is a match for the one shown in a monograpgh on Virginia stations released by Traser through the Railroad Station Historical Society. According to the C&O’s track charts, Remington’s water tower, water columns, and station were still in place in 1963. (From the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
This photo was another eBay purchase. I don’t know enough about Remington to know whether the building with the station sign was a replacement for the station in the photo above or whether it is a separate fright station. The photo is undated, but I’d put it in the late 60’s based on the fact that the C&O hopper in the photo is from a series built in 1964-1965. (Photographer unknown. From a photo in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)

Manassas

This image of the Manassas station is from an undated postcard that was produced by the Auburn Post Card Mfg. Co. (Postcard in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
This photo is also from an undated postcard and appears to be quite old. (Postcard in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
This black-and-white image is from a photo. A handwritten date on the back of the photo simply says “1960’s.” C&O track charts show that Manassas still had its passenger and freight stations and a water tank in 1963. (Photographer unknown. From a photo in the the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
The station in Manassas in 1968. At least, that’s the year hand-written on the back of the postcard that provided this image. (From a postcard in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
This image is from an undated slide. (Photographer unknown. From a slide in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)

Burke

Burke was one of 5 water stops on the line. The depot was a standard design on the Southern. According to the C&O’s 1963 track charts, the Burke station was still in place in 1963. (Photographer and date unknown. Photo in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
In this undated photo, a C&O freight passes through Burke with wide-vision caboose 3191 carrying the markers. (Photographer and date unknown. Photo in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)

Cameron Run

C&O B-1 2950 was built by Baldwin for the Lehigh Valley. It then went to the Hocking Valley and came to the C&O when the Hocking Valley was merged in 1930. In this undated photo, the 2950 has a C&O freight well in hand at Cameron Run, just outside Potomac Yard. (From a negative in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)

Potomac Yard

A Southern freight train entering Potomac Yard. The photo was taken from the window of a Southern Railway steam excursion in 1987.

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Alexandria

This is Alexandria Union Station. The Federal Revival-style station stands across from Northern Virginia’s Masonic Temple. Its waiting and baggage rooms are separated by an open breezeway. It was originally built by the Washington Southern Railway Company which later became part of the RF&P. The station served the RF&P, the Southern, and, of course, the C&O. This image is from an undated postcard, but seems to be quite early. (From a postcard in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
This image is from a postcard postmarked in 1914. (From a postcard in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
This photograph shows the Alexandria station in 1933. (Photographer unknown. From the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
Train time at Alexandria on June 25, 1974. (Photographer unknown. From a slide in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
Alexandria station in October of 1974. (Photographer unknown. From a slide in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
This image is from a 1980 photo. (From the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
I suspect that this postcard image was taken from the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, which is right across the street from the Alexandria station. Based on the automobiles visible, I think it might have been taken in the early 1960’s. (From a postcard in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
Here’s a photo of the C&O’s premier passenger train - the George Washington - at Alexandria station in 1941. (Wayne Kendrick photo. Used with permission)
Train time at Alexandria on June 22, 1961. C&O E8 4025 and another E unit lead a five-car train south past a freight. (Photo by William P. Nixon. From a slide in the collection of Larry Z. Daily.)
C&O E8 #4017 passes a Southern freight at Alexandria, June 26, 1965. (from the collection of Joseph Testagrose, photographer unknown, used with permission)
C&O E8 #4000 at Alexandria Union Station on July, 21, 1966. The George Washington Masonic Temple is visible in the background. (from the collection of Joseph Testagrose, photographer unknown, used with permission)
Wide-vision caboose 3191 is carrying the markers for a C&O freight headed for Potomac Yard. The 3191 was delivered to the C&O in 1968 and is most likely still less than a year old in this April, 1969 photo. (Photo by Norman Blackwood. From a slide in the collection of Larry Z. Daily.)
A pair of E8’s led by 4029 has the George Washington well in hand in June of 1970. (Photographer unknown. From a photo in the collection of Larry Z. Daily.)

This photo was acquired in an eBay auction in 2011. The back of the photo is labelled “The Sportsman No. 4 Oct. 4, 1936.” (Photo in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)

This photo was an eBay acquisition. Typed on the back of the photo is the caption “Chesapeake & Ohio No. 549 Charlottesville, Virginia, 1940. Something about it just didn’t seem right to me. There’s a coaling tower in the background that is not the concrete one that I associate with Charlottesville. There also appears to be catenary behind the locomotive, and that doesn’ seem right for Charlottesville, either. The general consensus among people who saw the photo when I first posted it was that it was taken in Ivy City in Washington, DC. (1940 photo, photographer unknown. In the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
C&O E8 4013 and a mate under the wires in Washington, DC on September 3, 1956. (Photograph by D. R. McCulloch. From a slide in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)

A rather odd-looking Washington Terminal switcher at Ivy City on September 18, 1979. The notes on the slide call it a “WT Quarterhorse.” (Photo by C. Perelman. From a slide in the collection of Larry Z. Daily.)
Another Washington Terminal switcher. The photo was taken at the Washington Rail Exhibit in 1983.

Map


These maps were 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.

This is a map of the entire Subdivision
This is a detail map of Orange, VA

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