Lindsay to Strathmore
|The Virginia Air Line (VAL) connected the C&O’s Piedmont Sub to the Rivanna Sub of the James River Line. The connection with the Piedmont Sub was at Lindsay and the connection with the James River Line was at Strathmore. The VAL was the brain child of George Stevens, president of the C&O from 1900 to 1920 and was incorporated on April 10, 1906. Construction stated in Lindsay in October, 1906 and was completed in October, 1908. The line was operated independently from its completion until July 1, 1909, when the C&O took over operations. This arrangement lasted until the VAL was purchased by the C&O in July of 1912. The C&O used the VAL to move loads that were too high or too wide to pass through the tunnels of the Mountain Subdivision west of Charlottesville. In addition, coal for Washington and northern Virginia came down the James River Line, then up the VAL and on through Gordonsville and then to Washington over the Washington Subdivision. In the 1950’s, a young girl named Ethel Mae Robinson lived along the VAL tracks. She waved at the passing trains so consistently that the trainmen began to look for her as they passed. She so brightened their days that they began buying her presents, a gesture that continued into her teenage years. Mae Robinson DeLong recently emailed me with information about her family. Her father and both of her grandfathers worked for the C&O, as did her husband (see the People of the Piedmont page). The VAL was removed in the 1970’s. Below is a brief summary of the VAL’s history.|
|This photo shows where the VAL branched off from the Piedmont Sub. The mainline is to the right. (Photo June, 2008 by Lindsay M. Harrington. Used with permission.)|
|April 10, 1906||The Virginia Air Line Railway was chartered by the Commonwealth of Virginia.|
|October, 1906||Construction began.|
|October, 1908||Construction was completed. Operation began under VAL control.|
|July 2, 1909||The C&O began operating the VAL.|
|July 12, 1912||The VAL was sold to the C&O.|
|February 21, 1927||Passenger service reduced to one daily train in each direction.|
|June 1, 1932||Passenger service replaced by mixed train service.|
|June 23, 1954||Mixed train service ended.|
|1971||The C&O announced that it would abandon the VAL.|
|October 26, 1971||Fluvanna Board of Supervisors begins a suit to keep the VAL open.|
|March, 1972||The ICC allows the abandonment to proceed.|
|August 1, 1973||Last round trip train from Lindsay to Strathmore.|
|1974||Environmental Protection Agency placed a one-year delay on the abandonment.|
|January 30, 1975||ICC formally approves the abandonment plans.|
|November 3, 1975||The VAL was officially abandoned.|
|August 25, 1978||Track removal was completed.|
|This undated postcard image shows the Fork Union depot when the railroad was still the Virginia Air Line. That suggests a date prior to 1912. (From the collection of Larry Z. Daily)|
|This undated postcard image shows the Strathmore depot. The VAL joined the James River Line via a connection behind the depot. (From the collection of Larry Z. Daily)|
|This is the Strathmore depot as it appeared in November of 1987. (Al Chione photo. From a slide in the collection of Larry Z. Daily)|
These photos are part of a set of four that were provided by Mr. Charles Southworth. According to Charlie, the photos show the wreck of Train 47, the west-bound Sportsman, just east of Bumpass. According to Charlie, the accident occurred in about 1934 and his family was waiting to board at Bumpass. To my eyes, however, these two photos were of a freight train wreck and the other two (which are still on the Bumpass page) were of a passenger train and I couldn’t find any information about a wreck on the Piedmont Sub in the 1940’s. On the other hand, all of the other information that Charlie ever gave me checked out.
In February of 2021 I received an email from Chuck McIntyre. He also said that the photos looked like they were from at least two separate incidents. He also pointed out that the clothing and passenger cars in the passenger wreck look like they are WWI vintage. Chuck was sure - and I agree with his analysis - that these two show the 1942 wreck at Rockaway. Thus, I’ve moved those photos to this page.
Chuck provided an excerpt from ICC report from July of 1942
This map was prepared from a copy of a Side Track Record provided by Wendell McChord.
This map was prepared from C&O valuation drawings.
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