Location / Name:
Downtown Roanoke VA, XXX County (Roanoke is an independent city within the boundary of surrounding Roanoke County

What's Here:
Park Street Tower
the O. Winston Link Museum
the Virginia Museum of Transportation
the ex N&W shops

GPS Coordinates: as needed
Phone A/C: 540
ZIP: 24016

Access by train/transit:
Amtrak Northeast Regional

The Scoop:

This page of the Roanoke guide covers the downtown area, which includes the Park Street Tower, the O. Winston Link Museum, the Virginia Museum of Transportation, and Railroad Walk along Norfolk Ave and the old N&W mainline, and the ex N&W shops.

Amtrak started serving Roanoke again on October 31st, 2017.

Stephen Warren
Erica Yoon, Roanoke Times
Denver Todd

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:
Nothing Yet.


Special Photo Section

From Abram Burnett, who used to work for the N&W back in the "good ole days" come a couple of pictures he took back in the 70's.

The first picture was taken at night in 1973 besides the Park Street switchtenders box, looking west.  The picture was taken with a Leica M-2 and a 50mm Sumicron lens  He used Panatomic-X film, and used Accufine developer.  Abram's grandfather started working here in 1906, when a 2-8-0 was a big engine!

The second picture is from July 13th, 1975, the day after the departing train put nine hoppers on the ground.  This was at the east end of the Roanoke Classification Yard.  Notice the open auto-racks.


  Park Street Tower


  Virginia Museum of Transportation

A few pictures from the backside of the museum, including 1218, a Pennsy GG1, and a PCC car.





Railwalk is perhaps the nicest tribute to railroads I have seen anyone do, and it involved the city, Norfolk Southern, and the NRHS among others.  There are several interactive displays, including a crossing gate, a locomotive horn, and the signals.  They kindly placed a "bump-out" with a hole in the fence so that we railfans can photograph eastbound freights without obstruction!

I don't know what it looks like since we now have a working Amtrak station.

  1st St Bridge


There are more pictures of the bridge with the signals mounted on it on the N&W CPL page.

  O Winston Link Museum




This museum houses the fantastic collection of one of the more famous railroad photographers of the 50's and 60's.  A shop in New Mexico has one of his original prints for $15K, printed by Mr. Link himself.  Mr. Link was not a "railfan" per se, but was driven by the interplay between steam engines and their environment.  He also developed a passion for nighttime photography, and his results are nothing short of fantastic.

Winston Link was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1914, the son of a school teacher. Early on, Link showed an aptitude for technology, and his father, a demanding man but a good instructor introduced him to a variety of options. The elder Link trained his son to handle tools well and encouraged his interest in photography. It was at this time that he also developed an interest in steam railroading which was to remain with him for life. Link attended the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, where he was a good student and a popular one, being particularly well known for his practical jokes. He graduated in 1937 with a degree in civil engineering, but photography was to claim him before engineering could.

Engineering jobs were scarce in Depression America, but Link was offered a position as photographer for a large public relations firm. His job was to make photos for his clients which were submitted for free use in newspapers and magazines. The photos had to carry the clients' messages, and do it with such cleverness and wit, or be so unusual, that photo editors couldn't resist using them. In this job he learned to use people to animate his pictures, and how to give them both compositional "punch" and the vivacity editors wanted.

With the onset of World War II, Link used both his engineering and photographic skills as a photographer and researcher for a secret military project, designing and building devices to detect submerged enemy submarines from airplanes flying overhead. The research laboratory was located in Long Island, adjacent to the tracks of the Long Island Rail Road which was powered by steam at that port. Link renewed an interest in steam locomotives and railroads that had been all but dormant for some years, and began to photograph them.

In 1946, with the end of the war, he chose to become an independent, free lance photographer and opened his own photographic studio, first in Brooklyn and later in Manhattan. His clients included many major American companies and leading advertising agencies who called him when they needed a photographer with a knowledge of large cameras and complex lighting setups. It was during this, from January, 1955 to March, 1960, that he created the documentation of the last years of steam railroading on the Norfolk & Western Railway. He retired from active practice in 1983, and now lives in Westchester County, New York.

Winston Link's photographs of the Norfolk & Western Railway are documented in two books, Steam, Steel and Stars, 1987, with text by Tim Hensley, and The Last Steam Railroad in America, 1995, with text by Thomas H. Carver. Both are published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, and both are in print.

More of his history at:

  The Shops


Amtrak started serving Roanoke again on October 31st, 2017, after an almost 40 year absence.
Weekday service leaves at 6:15AM and returns at 9:55PM.  Weekend service leaves at 8:40AM.

  First Train for VIP's.

  Photo by Erica Yoon, The Roanoke Times


The downtown area of Roanoke is littered with N&W CPL signals everywhere you look, although Norfolk Southern has been slowly replacing them on an as needed basis.  The signals on the cantilever bridge next to 1st street used to be mounted on the overpass, and a CPL at location 2 was replaced sometime since 1993.  For more pictures of N&W CPL pictures, additional pictures of the locations on this map, and the stuff from 1993, check out:

  South leg of the Wye


  East leg of the Wye



  Along Campbell Ave, south side of the shops


  West leg of the Wye

  Along Norfolk Ave and Railwalk


Location 5 is a catch all for the many signals located along this short stretch along Norfolk Ave.

  Adjacent to the Park Street Tower



We have nothing to report just yet......

NEW 10/03/2009, 9/13/2013, 8/11/2017
Last Modified 23-May-2019