Location / Name:
Staunton VA, No County (Staunton is an independent city in the Commonwealth
Former C&O Depot
The Buckingham Branch RR
The Shenandoah Valley RR
C&O Water Tower
C&O Markings on RR Overpass
GPS Coordinates: as needed
Phone A/C: 540
Access by train/transit:
Amtrak trains #50 and #51
Staunton VA is a quiet little town on the western side
of mid Virginia. Thanks to my son-in-law Rob, and his folks Terry and
Vicki who live in Staunton for helping me find my way around town!
It's most beautiful here, if you come, you won't wanna leave :-)
CSX owns the tracks
that come thru town. The Buckingham Branch RR
has trackage rights from Doswell to
Clifton Forge, with a division point at
CSX no longer deals with anything local in Staunton, it
is now handled by the Buckingham Branch.
The Shenandoah Valley RR
handles local traffic from their yard along Lee Highway, northward to just
south of Harrisonburg, where they also interchange with the Norfolk
Southern. When they head out depends on when the Buckingham Branch
brings them cars from their interchange with the CSX in Clifton Forge.
Clifton Forge is also the division point for CSX, where
the loaded coal drags head east via the more level route following the James
River into Richmond via Lynchburg. The lighter empty trains can handle
the steeper grades on the WB route going thru Charlottesville and Staunton.
There are 5 or 6 trains each way every day. In looking at a map, you
can see where the CSX goes from being on the south side of the James River
to the north shore, just slightly east of Lynchburg - the maplet below.
A couple more tidbits of info. On the one map
where you see the B&O heading south out of town, they were trying to reach
Roanoke before the N&W. Once the N&W got there first, for some reason,
the B&O decided to quit building southward. If you drive along I-81,
just south of the interchange with I-64, you should be able to see where
they built a bridge and did grading for the right-of-way, but neither ever
saw any track. There are other various places where the B&O did
grading and put in abutments that can still be seen if you know where to
look (I don't).
Ross Roland's ex N&W #614 is stored down in Clifton
Forge. Nothing on its location is evident from looking at Google maps,
although there are still two turntables and an impressive bridge structure
holding up the southern end of the yard!
There used to be an excursion operation that used to
run out of Staunton, maybe 10 years ago. After CSX kept raising the
requirements, forcing them to buy more and more insurance, they finally
called it quits after about three years of operation. Some of the
equipment was sold off, what remains sits behind an industrial building on a
siding in Verona (off Adams Dr). The engines may still be there.
The building is supposed to be vacant.
I would like to thank Mike, a local railfan whom you can find at the station on most
days, for the detailed information here and elsewhere on this page.
Located a few blocks from the Staunton Train Station is the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace
Memorial and the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, as well as the Woodrow Wilson Museum.
If you have never been here before, and pronounce the
name of the town with the "U" in it, everyone will know you are not from the
area, as the name is pronounced "STAN-ton", more is from
(pronounced STAN-ton) was named for
Lady Rebecca Staunton, wife of the Colonial Governor of Virginia William
Gooch. No one really knows why Staunton is pronounced the way that it is.
Some believe that the pronunciation is because "that is the way that the
family pronounced the name (although Staunton descendants pronounce the
"u".) It has also been suggested that since most area settlers were
Scots-Irish and Germans and not English like the Staunton name that when
Staunton was pronounced by those with Irish and/or German accents, it
sounded like it did not contain a "u". It is anyone's guess!
As far as bus transportation goes, Staunton has the
Staunton Trolley, which provides
fixed-route bus service throughout Staunton. It includes three routes
- the Red Route, the Green Route and the Silver Route. The Green Route
connects to the City's Amtrak station. The Coordinated Area Transportation
Services (CATS) operates a demand-response service throughout the Staunton
area, as well as a fixed shuttle service between the downtown areas of
Staunton and Waynesboro. From
Pictures below in the Floobydust section.
The Virginia Central RR
was the first railroad to make it's way into town in 1854, although the railroad
began in 1836 as the Louisa Railroad.
The LRR originally started at Doswell at a
junction with the RF&P - the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac. The
railroad changed it's name in 1850 to the Virginia Central. At some
point in time (the timing is unclear), the U.S. Supreme court allowed the
Louisa to go east into Richmond.
The C&O Railroad
was formed in 1868 with the merger of the Virginia Central and the
Covington & Ohio RR. The railroad was later changed to the
C&O Railway in 1878 after Collis P. Huntington was recruited for money, and expanded the
railroad east into Newport News in the 1880's. A hundred years later,
the railroad officially became the CSX, after a long association with the
B&O and then the Chessie System 1972-1987. I have a merger chart
Today, CSX, Amtrak, and the Buckingham Branch RR all service Staunton.
More historical trivia: The area of Staunton surrounding the railroad station is known as
The Wharf, a curious name for a
neighborhood that is nowhere near a wharf! In fact, the name is an
historical one dating to the 19th century. The warehouses in this
neighborhood reminded people of buildings that you might see along a wharf.
In Staunton's case, the railroad acts in same manner as a wharf, and in
fact, the neighborhood's old warehouses really do look like those that one
might see along the waterfront of a port city.
It must have been difficult to see trains from here with the platform canopy in the way.
Amtrak also uses the bottom floor for their station and is open about an hour before trains arrive.
Staunton is serviced 3 times a week by the Cardinal, Amtrak trains #50 and #51.
The Cardinal provides service between NYC, DC, and Chicago via a "southernly" route.
Travel time by train from Charlottesville is about 1:12hrs and costs $11.
A trip to Richmond will cost around $20, but goes by bus between Charlottesville and Richmond.
To/from Washington DC, it's a 4:29 ride and will set you back $64.
From the Great American Stations page: Customers at Staunton use a small unstaffed waiting
room located in the former signal house (The C&O called them CABINS - Todd) built for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) circa
1886. Since the mid-19th century, three depots have served rail passengers at this site,
located on a bend at the foot of Wilson Park and beside the now-underground Lewis Creek.
More info below.
the Depot Grill
GPS Coordinates: 38.147092, -79.073316
Probably built in a former freight warehouse.... Very
worthy for stopping in at and having lunch or dinner, prices AND food are
great! The Depot Grill is the "best" place in town to eat, well, it's
the only place I did eat at.... so......
the Buckingham Branch Railroad
GPS Coordinates: 38.145099, -79.076211
The Buckingham Branch RR is the largest shortline in
Virginia. They are railfan friendly, and a stop at either
Dilwyn will prove. To boot, the owner's daughter used to live across
the light rail tracks from where I live in Thorton.
Their website is here, and has a fair bit of
railfan oriented stuff on it.
From Friday June 21st, 2013
Again, these 3 pictures are from Google's street view.
Below is some stuff from their website.
US 11 Overpass and the Staunton Watering Can
GPS Coordinates: 38.147072, -79.068652
Interesting watering can and flower pot where Greenville Ave goes under the tracks
on a still labeled C&O bridge.
Abandoned Coal Tipple
GPS Coordinates: 38.146671, -79.066719
Along Richmond Ave, just off US 11.
Shenandoah Valley RR
GPS Coordinates: 38.146989, -79.065896
Located off Lee Highway, near the watering can.
The RS-11 (367) doesn't run :-(
Looking west (L) and then east (R) from the crossing adjacent to the office.
Former C&O Water Tower
GPS Coordinates: 38.147172, -79.072389
Nestled quietly above the depot is a C&O water tower that has never been
removed. During the summer, it is difficult to see. Thanks to
Paul for bringing this to my attention, and to Jonathan for taking the picture.
GPS Coordinates: 38.147137, -79.068229
Adjacent to the Water Can pictured at the US 11 Overpass is a "new" attraction for Staunton.
This display was designed to recreate a turntable that used to be
here. They did a nice job with a section of dual gauge track going
into the stonework. Also here is a
whistle post and a steam tender water standpipe. Thanks to Paul for
bringing this to my attention too!
The Gypsy Express is a short, fun ride around a scenic area of Staunton’s Gypsy Hill Park. Today's
riders are frequently the children and grandchildren of those who first rode the mini train more
than a half-century ago. The Gypsy Express has been sharing fun and adventure with the young and
young at heart for 60 years. Get in on the great Staunton train adventure!
History: In 1958, George and Linda Bartley brought a mini-train to Gypsy Hill Park. In a
truly remarkable display of commitment, they operated the Gypsy Express until 1991, when they
sold it to the City of Staunton. The City continued to operate the mini-train until 1998, when
it was taken out of service for safety reasons. City leaders were considering whether the
train could be safely operated or whether it should simply be removed from the park. A group
of area residents refused to put their memories and fondness for the train aside and, in
August 2000, held an open meeting at Montgomery Hall Park to discuss saving the train. About
50 local citizens attended, including George Bartley. As a result, the group formed a non-profit
corporation and named it Gypsy Express, Incorporated (GX). GX contracted with the City to repair
and bring the train back to safe service standards, and to provide volunteers to operate the
train. The City provided some seed funding, but the bulk of the funding has been provided
through private and corporate donations. Volunteers began the rebuilding process in the
spring of 2001 by moving the station house to higher ground and refurbishing it. They then
enlarged the track and replaced most of the roadbed, added drainage pipes, and added stone
rip-rap to hold the roadbed in place.The old 8 lb. rail was replaced with new and heavier
12 lb. rail. GX borrowed a rail bender from Maine to bend the new rail. The old rail was
sold to a private train operation in North Carolina. The volunteers also put in all new
ties, tie plates and drove in all-new spikes, one at a time. They designed and built two
new bridges, replaced the engine house, rebuilt the engine and refurbished the cars. The
engine and cars were repainted in Santa Fe Railroad colors, and a newly designed Gypsy
Express logo was added. Dedicated volunteers also landscaped the grounds, added a switch
and siding, rebuilt the crossings and added a crossing signal. A flagpole, new fencing,
and gates were also installed. The Gypsy Express again roared to life on August 5, 2001 in a
drenching rainstorm, with Mrs. Linda Bartley and Staunton Mayor G. John Avoli in attendance.
GX designed and built a third car that accommodates larger people and wheelchairs. It is the
first of its kind in the US, and began operation in 2003. The upper bridge has been made
into a covered bridge for storage of this new ‘handicapped’ car. The loading platform was
extended to allow for easy loading of wheelchair riders, and paved walkways were built
for easier access to the train.
Staunton is served by two Amtrak trains, NB #50, and SB
#51. #50 is scheduled to come thru at 1:37PM, train #51 2:59PM.
On this day, Amtrak train #50, since it is coming from Chicago, was running
about 90 minutes late. The SB train was only running about 15 minutes
late. As chance would have it, they both got here at just about the
same time. Train #50 came arrived first around 3:00, and immediately
after they passed on the siding to the north of the station, #51 arrived.
Next to the Tracks
This is what you will see as you walk along the tracks on the platform.
Around the corner from the station, as you go under the R-O-W on Middlebrook Ave towards the BBrr.
The left picture is from Google's street view, the right one is mine.
The pole line on the far side of the track is interesting, as it hugs a high wall of rock.
The only signal I came across in my short time going
through town - they are just east of the station for EB traffic.
Just around the bend are the WB signals, but there is no way to easily get
pictures without walking down the tracks. Definitely C&O styling
if you are at all familiar with their equipment,
with red on the top of the upper head. According to one railfan I met
at the station, the C&O signals are soon to be replaced by newer "darth
vader" color lights.
The span going over Middlebrook Avenue is a steel girder, and the track
going over the creek and walkway is on a couple of small but well decorated stone arches.
You can find a convenient place to park off Church St and Middlebrook.
These overpasses are now part of Landis Park, a nice break from everything else.
Staunton supposedly had the very first volunteer fire company in the state.
At some point in time, the city decided to
make the all volunteer station part paid, and part volunteer... then, to the
dismay of those that were volunteers, they made it all paid. Many
cities, especially in Florida, are finding out that it is very expensive to
pay for the retirement of all of those former employees. We'll see how
Staunton fares, maybe they will invite the volunteers back. The West
Friendship Volunteer Fire company in Howard County
MD is a good example of what can be accomplished when people and the
local government work together, as they have a mix of both paid and volunteer.
City of Staunton Fire Department Station #1
At the corner of N Augusta St and Pump St.
More info from the historical page above:
In 1911, the Staunton Fire Department purchased the first motorized fire
apparatus in the state. Named "JUMBO" by its manufacturer, the fully
restored Robinson Pumper Fire Engine is on view daily at the Staunton Fire
Department. Since the fire engine is located at the Fire Department. It is
essentially open 24 hours a day!
Staunton has a whole lot of stuff to visit and see, if
they interest you. The station area is littered with bunches of
antique and specialty stores. Staunton also has a lot of very cool
looking churches, none of the modern stuff that you find in newer areas like
the burbs around established cities. Enjoy your visit.
Seen around town.
A small sampling of some of the churches, I believe these are all along Augusta St.
Other views in the downtown area.
How to get killed on the railroad tracks.
Stuff seen on the way out of town. The remains of
the coal tipple is across from the Buckingham Branch yard.
Largest milk can I've ever seen, off Statler Blvd near the tracks.
Courtesy of the University of Texas Library, click
here for their index page.
In the map below, we can see that the B&O trackage south of Staunton has been abandoned and
Below are enlargements of the central Staunton areas for comparison....
I have overlaid where I believe the R-O-W used to be, from comparing the two
maps, and looking for clues with the contour lines.
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.
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 :-)
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.
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
Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as
being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.