Monday, July 30, 2012

Milepost 0 to 120 - Norfolk to Victoria

This blog is under construction. Please keep checking as progress is being made daily.



Norfolk, Va. - Mileposts 0 and A-8

Virginian's milepost zero in Norfolk was beside the Freight House, which was very  near Norfolk Terminal Passenger Station. That area is a parking lot for a stadium as the 21st century begins.  Virginian passenger and local freight trains operated from this area for 2.3 miles to a junction with the mainline at Tidewater.  At Tidewater, mainline freights continued east on the mainline to Virginian’s yard and coal piers at Sewalls Point, eight miles away.  The Sewalls Point property is now owned by the U. S. Navy. 

In the picture below the Norfolk Terminal Station (bottom center)is shown. In the upper left is VGN's Freight House and the site of VGN's milepost One.

In this picture the Sewalls Point coal piers are shown. 

Harry Bundy Collection
In the Norfolk area, surviving well into the 21st century are two interlocking towers of the Virginian Railway; Carolina, milepost 4.5 and South Norfolk, milepost 5.2.  In 1946, Virginian replaced 4 two story wood interlocking towers with a more modern looking, split level, masonry design tower. They were located at: Coleman  Place, milepost A1.4; Tidewater, milepost 2; Carolina, milepost 4.5; and South Norfolk, milepost 5.2.   In the vintage picture we see passenger train Three at Tidewater Tower,  which does not survive today.  Nonetheless, it illustrates the look of the 1946 era Norfolk area towers.

Rail historian Harry Bundy describes that in his picture, number Four has completed its passenger run to Norfolk Terminal Station and has backed away from NTS on NTS and Norfolk Southern trackage to Tidewater where it  returned to VGN trackage. In this picture, it is now running forward to Sewalls Point where it will be serviced and prepared to leave the next morning with train number Three.
 In the contemporary pictures below, Carolina Tower is shown with connecting tracks arching away from the former VGN mainline and South Norfolk (right) stands with its windows boarded up.

Carolina Tower may be reached by driving to the 1100 block of Oldwood Ave, Chesapeake, Va. 

South Norfolk could be seen from the 1600 block of Seaboard Ave., Chesapeake, Va.  A former NS operator who worked the joint NS/VGN modern towers recalls that VGN operators at South Norfolk parked their vehicles on Seaboard Ave. and walked across the VGN tracks to reach the tower.  * About November 8, 2012  Norfolk Southern RR demolished South Norfolk Tower.
Coleman Place Tower, milepost A 1.4, was 6.6 miles from Sewalls Point and the point at which Virginian interchanged with the Pennsylvania Railroad. The modern style tower still stands and can be reached from the dead end of the 3100 block of Cape Henry Rd, Norfolk, Va., 23509. Cape Henry Rd can be reached by turning west from Princess Anne Rd (Rt 166), onto Ballentine Blvd. and then north onto Cape Henry Rd.  Coleman Place Tower sits beside the very active NS mainline which is patrolled by NS police. Do not leave the end of the public street!   .



Suffolk, Va. - Milepost 23.5

 Sponsored by Suffolk Seaboard Station Museum

In the 1953 picture above, we see SAL tracks on the south side of the station while VGN's tracks were on the north side of the station. 

Suffolk was an extremely interesting location on the Virginian, connecting with five  different railroads; Atlantic Coast Line, Atlantic & Danville, Norfolk & Western, Norfolk Southern and Seaboard Air Line.  Seaboard’s Portsmouth branch was already in place when the Virginian’s right of way was being surveyed and when completed, for more than ten miles the two lines were parallel. Seaboard had an attractive brick station in Suffolk and Virginian, built right beside the SAL passenger station and shared the structure.  After World War II, Virginian purchased two and a quarter miles of Norfolk Southern’s branch from the peanut factory valley to the pier on the Nansemond River and a connection with the Virginian,  just a hundred yards east of the Suffolk station.  Virginian’s freight station stood on the opposite side of the track from the SAL/VGN passenger station and a hundred yards to the west. In the 1953 picture above, we see SAL tracks on the south side of the station while VGN's tracks were on the north side of the station.
H. Reid Picture A.Wiley Collection

Near the end of VGN's 2-1/4 miles long branch into the peanut factory district, 0-8-0 switcher number 4 positions box cars. In the 21st century, many of old buildings still stand.

H. Reid Picture

Ed Burnett Picture

Jeb Burnett Picture
 In the 21st century, the Seaboard Railroad Station Museum is beautifully restored and provides a thorough look back into the area's railroad history through its collection of artifacts and HO model railroad. It is located at 326 N. Main Street Suffolk, Va, 23434 -  phone (757) 923-4750. It is open Wednesday through Friday, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm; Saturday, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm; Sunday 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.



Sebrell, Va - Milepost 54.3

Sponsored by Kent Brinkley
G.H. Brown Collection

Built prior to the earliest existing 1916 company records, the Virginian Railway station at Sebrell, Va., is a variation of a standard company design  and is 24 by 60 feet.

In the vintage picture, passenger train number 4 is shown making its stop in the summer of 1953 and the time would be 2:15 pm, if the train was on time.  The scene abounds with small details, such as the Robertson High Speed Train Order device shown opposite the door of the RPO section of the first car. The typical consist of the train was a head end car with sections for baggage and the Railway Post Office and two heavy weight passenger coaches.  

Sebrell Station was purchased from N&W, after the VGN-N&W merger, by the Kitchen family fifty years ago and moved about a mile north from the railroad to the family farm.  Situated on private property, it can be seen by traveling north on route 35 from Courtland, Va., to 16317 Plant Road. Before reaching the farm and the station, route 35 crosses the old VGN right of way.  The station stood just east of what appears to have been the business district and on the south side of the tracks. The farm is on the right as  is the VGN Heritage Trail sign to indicate the lane leading to the station.  Remember, it is on provate property. Mr. Ben Kitchen is the owner.


Victoria, Virginia - Milepost 119.7

Sponsored by the Town of Victoria

Henry H. Rogers, Virginian’s founder, was a personal acquaintance and admirer of England’s Queen Victoria.  As the route for his railroad was being surveyed, he saw to it that the first major town to be created along its route would carry her name, Victoria, Virginia. Victoria grew to become a major railroad yard, locomotive and freight car servicing and repair facility.  At its zenith 400 people were employed there, the yard was ten tracks wide and there was a thirteen stall roundhouse with complete locomotive and car support structures. The Norfolk Division offices were in a two story structure which was also the passenger station.
Greg Elam & Kurt Reisweber Collections
In the 21st century, the leaders of the town of Victoria have created an amazing park of 21 acres from the land of the former yard. In the collection of restored Virginian equipment are: C-10a caboose 342, G-5a coal gondola  22019, a GRS VGN searchlight signal, the Nutbush,  Va.  passenger shelter, a VGN company phone box, a steam locomotive bell, a company motor car shed – tool house and  a collection of VGN  mileposts and whistle posts.  In the park are two pavilions, play lots,   volleyball courts and paved walking trails leading around the footprints of the roundhouse and turntable.  The park is on Firehouse Road, between 3rd and 7th Sts. Firehouse Road is parallel with Main Street which intersects with routes 40 and 49.