locked Re: Gordonsville, Virginia

Cohen Bob

Following up on several things here from Bill, Ike and our resident counselor at law:

1) The C&O did NOT have trackage rights past Gordonsville until the December 1890 lease with the Richmond & Danville, owner and successor of the Virginia Midland. Those rights commenced with that lease effective 90 days later if I recall. I have a copy of the lease agreement around here somewhere. It was only after the threat of construction of a new and separate line that the Richmond & Danville decided it was better to make such a deal. That deal lasted until CSX acquired the RF&P and did not renew the Orange-AF (near Alexandria) section, as they then had their own way into and thru DC, Pot Yard and points north.

2) The Virginia Central 1927 lease is a whole horse of another color, a totally different railroad. It had started out life in the 1850s and by the Civil War, only some grading, no tracks had been laid and it had gone thru a number of name changes. Essentially it was to connect Fredericksburg on the RF&P and either Gordonsville or Orange and had names incorporating those towns. After the way, money was still short and in the early 1870s, it got partially completed from Fredericksburg west for about half-way to where it was going by then. Then new management came in and financed it as a narrow gauge line between Fredericksburg & Orange and when it finally opened in 1876 or 1877 it was 37 or 38 miles long and had the name Potomac, Frederickburg & Piedmont or Piedmont, Fredericksburg & Potomac RR. It even had an rather affectionate nickname: Poor Folks & Preachers.

It remained a NG until it shut down in 1926 and was sold to new interests which standard gauged it and then we see the agreement which Ike has been so kind to reference. At this time, it was renamed the Virginia Central and lasted until the end of 1937 when all but a mile and a half in Fredericksburg plus the wye in Orange remained. The Fredericksburg switching an industry or two continued until the 1980s or 1990s when that, too ended. Part of the wye still exists in Orange but I don't think it is used by BB in Orange anymore.

3) If Gordonsville had been progressive thinking in the 1870s when the Virginia Midland and/or C&O approached the town fathers about the desired C&O railroad expansion, we might never have had the Charlottesville & Rapidan RR under direct ownership and control of Southern. The C&R was officially absorbed into SR in 1913 or 1914. As a result Gordonsville slumbered and a couple of towns and stations on the C&R blossomed with business over the years; Somerset and Barboursville.

4) Also as an unintended yummy, the Montpelier station was built adjacent to or as part of the the former President James Madison property and today it is administered under the Madison Foundation I think. The station was restored a number of years ago and stands a real beauty right along Route 20, 4 miles south of Orange. You should visit it sometime. It is a wonderful artifact to the days long ago which we write and read about in these pages and elsewhere.

Bob Cohen

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