Friday, March 2, 2012

Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Heritage Center

Returning from our late summer/early fall 2011 road trip… We continued to move south along the back roads in the general direction of East Tennessee.

And…in Clifton Forge Virginia, we came across yet another railroad related collection/museum.

Clifton Forge is the home of the Chesapeake & Ohio Historic Society’s non-profit corporation.  It's dedicated to interpreting the American railway experience using C&O’s Railway’s history through drawings, documents, and artifacts which the Society collects, preserves, and makes available to as broad an audience as is possible.  This is the visitor’s center, which contains a small museum…

In addition to the right of way maps, mechanical drawings, property registers, bridge specs, advertising items, time tables, artifacts, employee magazines, etc., the Society also owns some rolling stock.   These include a dining car, combination coach-baggage car, sleeping car, a coach, two cabooses, two boxcars and a refrigerator boxcar…as well as a former Clinchfield Railroad F-7 Diesel Locomotive. (The Society leases it to a tourist railroad)
For more information on the F-7 Series of Locomotives, just go to  A total of 3,849 of these locomotives were built by the General Motors Electromotive Division in the USA and the General Motors Diesel Division in Canada.

Among the structures on the property is this well maintained Signal Tower.  I later learned that it is a reproduction or replica structure… 

The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway can be traced back to the Louisa Railroad of Louisa County Virginia in 1836 and the James River & Kanawha Canal Company begun in 1785.  The railroad continued to grow over the years, absorbing about 150 other lines along the way.  One of those predessors, the Virginia Central Railroad reached the foot of the Alleghany Mountains at Clifton Forge in 1856. (At that point, Clifton Forge was named Jackson’s River Station) 

This is one of the 2 cabooses owned by the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society. 

During the Civil War, one of C&O’s predecessors, the Virginia Central, was one of the Confederacy’s most important lines, running troops and supplies back and forth between Richmond and the Shenandoah Valley.  Because it was a prime target for the Union armies, by the end of the war only 5 miles of operational track remained… The railroad also had $40 in gold in its treasury!

The Society also owns this former Chesapeake & Ohio Freight Station in Clifton Forge.  It’s adjacent to the rail yard and the visitor’s center/museum and this building serves as the C&O Railway Heritage Center.  The Society has a full time archives staff.  The office is open 5 days a week.  Access to the archival facility is by appointment. 

The Society is located at 312 Ridgeway in Clifton Forge Virginia.  Phone: 540-862-2210.  For more information, go to

We were fortunate that this beauty was on display when we visited Clifton Forge.  This is a Lima Locomotive Works 4-8-4 and it was built in June of 1948 for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad.  Locomotive #614 has been restored at least 3 times.  It is one of America's last commercally built main line passenger steam locomotives.  She served as the American Freedom Train in 1976; the Chessie Safety Express in 1980, and in 1985; for several weeks she hauled coal trains for American Coal Enterprise between Hinton and Huntington West Virginia.

In 1996, #614 moved to Hoboken New Jersey where, for the next 3 years it pulled excursion trains to Port Jervis New York and back… The locomotive is maintained by Iron Horse Enterprises.  It was up for sale in 2000, but no buyer was willing to meet the minimum.  It will be relocated to the Virginia Museum of Transportation’s new exhibit, entitled “Thoroughbreds of Steam”…or it will be relocated to White Sulpher Springs West Virginia as the Greenbrier Presidental Express.  For a great video of old #614 blasting along at 70 m.p.h., just go to
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

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