The W&OD Railroad

Passenger Trains on the W&OD
Here are four film clips providing mute evidence of a commonplace of a by-gone era: passenger trains running along the tracks of the W&OD RR. This footage, copyright by Mark I Video (which has graciously granted the Friends of the W&OD permission to place it on this web page), was apparently shot along the Rosslyn branch and at Bluemont Junction a few years before, during, and after the middle of the 20th century.



The following images (and some of the annotation) are drawn from Rails to the Blue Ridge, by Herbert H. Harwood, Jr., which book is apparently no longer available for purchase through the NVRPA marketplace (but may be obtained through Amazon, et al. as well).


The Washington terminal of the Washington, Ohio & Western (as well as successors) was located on the site occupied today by the West Building of the National Gallery of Art. This photograph was taken about 1895.


“If riding the railroad was sometimes rigorous, it was also cheap. In 1914 one could buy a Sunday round-trip excursion ticket to Bluemont for $1.00 — over 100 miles of train travel. And by paying another dollar, passengers could take a four hour auto tour in the Blue Ridge. Even thriftier souls could get to Great Falls and back for 35 cents.”


“While Dunn Loring and Wiehle were slow starters, commuters were a major presence by the late 1880’s. In 1888 one traveler who rode an early morning train into Washington reported that ‘every seat was occupied, principally by government employees, many of whom live at Falls Church, Vienna, Herndon, and other points.'”


In 1916 there was a total of 65 stations on the W&OD, to include those at the beginning (Georgetown) and the end of the line (Bluemont). Normans, obviously tiny, was located at the point where the tracks and Smiths Switch Road intersect. The road takes its name from the fact that the Smiths, a fairly prominent family that once grew produce and raised livestock in the vicinity of Ashburn, saw to the construction of a railway siding whose switch the family would throw periodically in order to bring trains to a loading area on the farm itself.