Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Appalachian Railroads: Part 2 - The Virginia Creeper

The Virginia Creeper

This is the second installment in a series of posts on Appalachian Railroads.

The Virginia Creeper ran from 1907 to 1977 from Abingdon, Virginia to Elkland, North Carolina. Originally established in the 1880's by the Abingdon Coal and Iron Railroad Company and later organized into an operational railroad by Virginia-Carolina Railroad Company and the Norfolk and Western Railway, the route first ran from Abingdon through Damascus, Virginia to Whitetop Mountain near the North Carolina line, and in 1915 was extended into North Carolina.

The railway was first used to haul natural resources from the surrounding area, primarily iron ore, coal and timber. By the 1930's, passenger service was also offered along the rail line. Several of the passenger stations remain today and continue to be icons of the railroad's history. Some of the communities served by the Virginia Creeper included Abingdon, Alvarado, Damascus, Taylors Valley, Green Cove, Whitetop, Konnarock, West Jefferson and Elkland.

By the mid 1950's, the steam locomotives were replaced by diesel engines and by 1977, the Virginia Creeper had ceased operation and the removal of the tracks began. Today, the corridor is used as a popular recreational trail that stretches over 30 miles between Abingdon, Damascus, and Whitetop. An original steam engine is still on display at the trail's western terminus in Abingdon.

More on the Virginia Creeper's History:

The Virginia Creeper Trail

Virginia Creeper Trail Guide

Mountain Railroad Memories

More on the Virginia Creeper Trail:

Virginia Creeper Trail Club

1 comment:

Michael Mason said...

As a side note, if you are ever in Roanoke, check out the O. Winston Link Museum. One entire area of the museum is dedicated to Link's photography of the N&W Virginia Creeper line, taken in the 1950's.

Also, there is a grass roots push to connect all of western Virginia's bike trails, from Craig County in the north, to the Pandapas Pond area near Blacksburg, to the Huckleberry Trail, to Radford's River Trail, to the New River Trail, through horse trails in the Mount Rogers area, to the Virginia Creeper, to the Mendota Trail, and eventually connecting to the Guest River Gorge Trail in the southwest.