Todd's Railfan Guide to

In General
Getting Here



In General

Location / Name:
Orange and Orange County Virginia

What's Here:
Historic Depot and many other items of interest to the Railfan community.


GPS Coordinates: As noted

Scanner Frequencies:
NS: 160.950 & 160.24
Equipment/defect detectors: Rapidan and Weyburn: both 160.950

Access by train/transit:

The closest Amtrak stop/station is in Charlottesville VA.


The Scoop:
(need more)


In the two maps below, my map follows the sight assignments of the map found in the Orange County Railfan Guide.


Please note that over the years in this area, there have been two completely separate railroads that have been called the Norfolk Southern.  What we call Norfolk Southern today, is a railroad created in 1980? with the merger of the Southern Railway, and the Norfolk & Western Rwy.  Up until ~1972, there was a regional railroad called the Norfolk Southern, that merged into the Southern Rwy.  Also, without spending a whole lot of time on research, there seem to be some inconsistences in the dates and with what happend.

1840 - the Louisa RR became the Virginian Central
1848 - the Orange & Alexandria RR was chartered, 18MAY1848
1850 - construction begins on the O&A, completed in APR1854, connects with the Virginia Central RR in Orange County
1853 - the Potomac, Fredericksburg & Piedmont was given
1854 - the O&A was the first railroad to come through Orange (now NS, but leased to CSX, and sub-leased to the Buckingham Branch RR)
1854 - the O&A was given permission to build southward from Charlottesville to Lynchburg

1854 - the O&A became part of the (old) Norfolk Southern
1854/55 - the first version of Railroad Ave appears
1860 - the O&A line to Lynchburg completed, connects with
1861 - Orange's first fatal train accident between two Confederate trains heading to Manassas, 25MAY1861, two or three people killed, nine injured
1867 - the O&A merged with the Manassas Gap RR to become the Orange, Alexandria & Manassas RR

1873 - the OA&M was consolidated into the Virginia Midland RR

1876 - a cutoff between Orange and Charlottesville was incorporated as the Charlottesville & Rapidan RR, opens in 1880
1877 - the Potomac, Fredericksburg & Piedmont started running between Orange and Fredericksburg, the line was 36" narrow gauge
1880 - the Charlottesville & Rapidan RR laid tracks going through Orange (the R-O-W is now part of NS)
1880 - the Charlottesville & Rapidan RR became part of the Washington City, Virginia Midland & Great Southern RR (phew, what a mouthfull! :-)
???? - the Virginia Midland RR becomes part of the Richmond & Danville RR
1894 - the Richmond & Danville RR became part of the Southern Railway
1908 - the Great Fire of 1908 which destroyed almost everything on Railroad Avenue, including the 1850 O&A depot
1910 - the Southern Rwy builds the depot that is now used as the visitors center
1913 - first auto/train collision at Old Gordonsville Road
1914 - the C&R was merged into the Southern Rwy
1921 - the Rapidan RR ran to Wolftown and into mountain logging camps
1924 - the Rapidan RR abandoned its line to Wolftown and the logging camps, and the property reverted back to the landowners

1926 - the PF&P converted to standard gauge, renamed itself the Virginia Central
1926 - the PF&P built the depot that is here
1938 - the PF&P/Virginia Central was abandoned
1965 - on a freight train coming through town, a load of steel bar joists came loose and several went through the depot, 1FEB1965
1970 - the last pre-Amtrak passenger train stops in Orange
1982 - the Southern Railway and the Norfolk & Western Railway merged to become the current day Norfolk Southern RR

Thanks to Denver Todd for his help with my railfan guides and suggesting welcome changes to help all ya'll.

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:

Aerial shots were taken from either Google Maps or www.bing.com/maps as noted, once in a great while maybe MapQuest.  The screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

Getting Here

Getting to G



Because there is a lot on this page to view, I've included the shortcuts below to make it easier.
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1  Orange - Orange Station & Visitors Center on Short Street

2  Orange - the Robertson Fountain Park

From here you have a good view of the RF&P depot.  A cantilever signal is located here.

3  Orange - Caroline Street Overpass


4  Orange - Berry Hill Road Overpass


5  Orange - Old Gordonsville Road Grade Crossing


6  Route 647 (Old Gordonsville Road) Grade Crossing


7  Intersection of Route 647 and Route 639 (Madison Run Road)    

Location of a former SR depot


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Very early picture of  the Orange & Alexandria RR yard in Alexandria..... found on Google images, no credit given for source...


  1   Adjacent to the Robertson Fountain Park


  2    A



Fire and Police

Orange Volunteer Fire Company

Orange Police Department



Map of the Orange and Alexandria RR, 1852


Historical USGS Map

The USGS map below is a composite of the quadrangle maps of Gordonsville 1886 and Spotsylvania 1887.  It appears that the map of Spotsylvania had a wee bit more detail, if you examine the points at which the two maps join.  The map is way larger in its native resolution, so you may want to download the map in order to be able to expand it, the map is around a 4.2 meg JPEG.  Courtesy of the University of Texas Library, click here for their index page.


I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.  My webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in one convenient place.  There are plenty of other good websites to help me in this effort, and they are listed in the links section on my indexa page, or as needed on individual pages.  Please do not write to me about something that may be incorrect, and then hound the heck out of me if I do not respond to you in the manner you would like.  I operate on the "Golden Rule Principle", and if you are not familiar with it, please acquaint yourself with how to treat people by reading Mathew 7:12 (among others, the principle exists in almost every religion).  If you contact me (like some do, hi Paul) and try to make it a "non-fun" thing and start with the name calling, your name will go into my spambox list! :-)

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names.  Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations.  I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area.  Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature.  While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!!  

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


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NEW 05/20/2015
Last Modified 25-May-2015