Todd's Railfan Guide to
West of Downtown




This map of Roanoke covers the west side of Roanoke, which includes the main Norfolk Southern yard, North Yard.  A commanding view of the yard can be had from the parking lot of the tower, and to date, I have never been bothered by anyone taking pictures from the base of the tower.

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


The main focus of this side of town is North Yard, quite a sprawling affair.
It's difficult to shoot well except from "tower" hill.
One of two massive track facilities, a Roadway Material Yard (RMY), hugs the bottom of the west end of the yard (the other is in Bellevue OH).

For a look at the yard from a time when the track coming out of the RMY crossed the Virginian in a diamond (1995),
check out this picture on Terraserver: CLICK-ME

That track, BTW, was originally the Roanoke & Southern to Winston-Salem NC,
more recently known as the N&W Roanoke Belt Line.  It is still intact, but largely unused.

Thanks to Harry Bundy and Gordon Hamilton for the details.


    1        North Yard Tower

   A birds-eye view "looking over the shoulder" of the tower.

Some of what can be seen from the hill the tower is located on.  The photo on the right isn't in view from the tower location - it is the eastern end of the hump tracks adjacent to 13th St.


    2         The Through Tracks

Fortunately, the tracks right next to Shenandoah are the thru tracks.  You can't park right on the street, but there are plenty of side streets and business' to pull off the street to catch a few shots.  If you have a pick-me-up, take along a ladder to clear the fence.  The view of the yard is often blocked by a train sitting on the very outside track, as seen in the Snag below from Bing Maps... I love how their stitching is almost perfect between frames :-)


The yard is still blessed with not one, but TWO operational turntables!

    3         Good Parking Lot for Railfanning


The parking lot is off of Baker, above the two tanks on the left side of the photo.  In all my visits, I have never been bothered while taking pictures from here. This spot is in the Snag below, with the blue and white dot.

    4         Fueling Tracks

The fueling tracks have the green arrow pointing at them, they can be seen from the vantage point above.

    5         The Junk Yard


A variety of stuff can be found at this junk yard off the end of 30th St.  Bashed-up freight cars can be routinely found here, and I have purchased (what remains of) old N&W CPL signals from them.


For more pictures of N&W CPL pictures, additional pictures of the locations on this map, and the stuff from 1993, check out: http://www.railroadsignals.us/signals/nwcpl/index.htm


A bracket post installation for trains heading into the downtown area.


Two sets of signals for crossovers by the maintenance building and the parking spot.  The yellow arrow is pointing to the EB signals on a cantilever, while the red arrow points to the WB signals on another cantilever.


You never know what will show up, and the fact that Bing's airplanes seem to catch a lot of these happenings is all the more better for us!

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NEW 10/04/2009
Last Modified 13-Sep-2013