Todd's Railfan Guide to





Roanoke has always seemed to be one of those "lost railfan paradises".  Even in this "one railroad" era, there are plenty of things to see and do between downtown, this area on the south side, the main NS yard on the west side, and Salem and Christiansburg to the southwest.. 

In addition, less than 30 miles to the east in Bedford, is the most impressive war memorial I have ever seen, and I live in an area with probably more memorials than any other part of the country that includes Gettysburg, DC, Philly, and Baltimore!

This map covers the south side of Roanoke, which includes JK Junction, the ex Virginian yard now named "South Yard", and the NRHS storage area in an industrial park off 9th.

As always, if anyone has additional info, pictures, etc to contribute, please check out my contact page here


Below, 1925 USGS map of Roanoke, from the Univ of Texas Collection: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/virginia/

Below, 1888 USGS map of Roanoke, again, from the Univ of Texas Collection


    1      JK Tower



JK Tower was not always JK Tower.  Apparently, in the pre-merger days between the VGN and the N&W, it was known as the Walnut St. Tower.  Gordon H of the Yahoo Virginian Group informs us that on the N&W TT #18, dated 2/19/61, it is referred to as Walnut St.  On timetable #23, dated 10/31/65, it is called JK.  The tower was originally a two-story wood building, and was quite an extensive and complex pipe interlocking plant! 

The picture of NS SD40-2 # 6087 at the diamond before the second track and signals were removed is used by permission of JL Scott, click here for the picture on railpictures.net, and a way to his other photos of the area.  The picture was taken on 9/22/96 from the Walnut St overpass... great shot! 

The other shot was passed onto me by Doug Harris, and I am grateful he decided to share this great photo with us all.  Take the time to absorb all of the differences from the current photos!  Click here for a great PDF map of the JK area from 1931, also passed onto me by Doug.... it's a great map, and shows the streetcar tracks and the close proximity of the carbarn and shops to the crossover in addition to the railroads.   It's about a 1 meg download.

    2      the Virginian Rwy Depot


The Virginian Railway Passenger Station was built in 1909.  1909 is also the year that the VGN completed it's track from Deepwater WV to Sewells Point in Hampton Roads VA (Norfolk).  Trains were running between Roanoke and Deepwater in February of 1909, and in June, service began to Norfolk.  Passenger service was discontinued in the mid-50's, shortly after the N&W dieselized its fleet.  The N&W leased the VGN in 1926, and in 1959, the VGN was merged into the N&W.  In january of 2001,  the depot was damaged by a fire, and has been in it's present state since then.  The NRHS is supposed to be starting a massive remodeling project soon to completely restore the station.

The address of the station is: 1402 Jefferson St., Roanoke VA, 24016.

The station is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

    3      South Yard


South Yard serves mostly as a holding yard for eastbound coal drags headed for Norfolk, via Petersburg and Chesapeake.  The east end of the yard is adjacent to the Virginian depot above.

    4      NRHS Storage Yard


Lots of goodies waiting for your help to restore in the NRHS yard!  Among them are the "lost" steam engines of Roanoke.

    5      Franklin St Overpass, formerly VGN and then N&W, still marked with N&W Rwy


    6      The Roanoke Star



The signals at JK are actually pretty boring, the only interesting ones to note are the two signals on the single track N&W line where the head moves up and down to facilitate bulb replacement.  The first time I noticed this style was back in 1996 when visiting UVa in Charlottesville VA.  As noted on the map, the ex Virginian track used to have searchlights bore being acquired by the N&W in 1959.  According to Jeff Hawkins, there are some VGN searchlights still standing in the Norfolk area of Virginia, and the Princeton-Deepwater District in West Virginia.... roadtrip.









web statistics


NEW 09/16/2009
Last Modified 03-Jan-2014