RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.
Todd's Railfan Guide to
Staunton VA is a quiet little town on the western side of mid Virginia. Thanks to my son-in-law Rob, and his folks Terry and Vicki who live in Staunton for helping me find my way around town! It's most beautiful here, if you come, you won't wanna leave :-)
CSX no longer deals with anything local in Staunton, it is now handled by the Buckingham Branch.
The Shenandoah Valley handles local traffic from their yard along Lee Highway, northward to just south of Harrisonburg, where they also interchange with the Norfolk Southern. When they head out depends on when the Buckingham Branch brings them cars from their interchange with the CSX in Clifton Forge.
Clifton Forge is also the division point for CSX, where the loaded coal drags head east via the more level route following the James River into Richmond via Lynchburg. The lighter empty trains can handle the steeper grades on the WB route going thru Charlottesville and Staunton. There are 5 or 6 trains each way every day. In looking at a map, you can see where the CSX goes from being on the south side of the James River to the north shore, just slightly east of Lynchburg - the maplet below.
A couple more tidbits of info. On the one map where you see the B&O heading south out of town, they were trying to reach Roanoke before the N&W. Once the N&W got there first, for some reason, the B&O decided to quit building southward. If you drive along I-81, just south of the interchange with I-64, you should be able to see where they built a bridge and did grading for the right-of-way, but neither ever saw any track. There are other various places where the B&O did grading and put in abutments that can still be seen if you know where to look (I don't).
Ross Roland's ex N&W #614 is stored down in Clifton Forge. Nothing on its location is evident from looking at Google maps, although there are still two turntables and an impressive bridge structure holding up the southern end of the yard!
There used to be an excursion operation that used to run out of Staunton, maybe 10 years ago. After CSX kept raising the requirements, forcing them to buy more and more insurance, they finally called it quits after about three years of operation. Some of the equipment was sold off, what remains sits behind an industrial building on a siding in Verona (off Adams Dr). The engines may still be there. The building is supposed to be vacant.
I would like to thank Mike, a local railfan whom you can find at the station on most days, for the detailed information here and elsewhere on this page.
If you have never been here before, and pronounce the name of the town with the "U" in it, everyone will know you are not from the area, as the name is pronounced "STAN-ton", more is from here: Staunton (pronounced STAN-ton) was named for Lady Rebecca Staunton, wife of the Colonial Governor of Virginia William Gooch. No one really knows why Staunton is pronounced the way that it is. Some believe that the pronunciation is because "that is the way that the family pronounced the name (although Staunton descendants pronounce the "u".) It has also been suggested that since most area settlers were Scots-Irish and Germans and not English like the Staunton name that when Staunton was pronounced by those with Irish and/or German accents, it sounded like it did not contain a "u". It is anyone's guess!
As far as bus transportation goes, Staunton has the Staunton Trolley, which provides fixed-route bus service throughout Staunton. It includes three routes - the Red Route, the Green Route and the Silver Route. The Green Route connects to the City's Amtrak station. The Coordinated Area Transportation Services (CATS) operates a demand-response service throughout the Staunton area, as well as a fixed shuttle service between the downtown areas of Staunton and Waynesboro. From Wikipedia. Pictures below in the Floobydust section.
The Virginia Central RR was the first railroad to make it's way into town in 1854, although the railroad began in 1836 as the Louisa Railroad. The LRR originally started at Doswell at a junction with the RF&P - the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac. The railroad changed it's name in 1850 to the Virginia Central. At some point in time (the timing is unclear), the U.S. Supreme court allowed the Louisa to go east into Richmond.
The C&O Railroad was formed in 1868 with the merger of the Virginia Central and the Covington & Ohio RR. The railroad was later changed to the C&O Railway in 1878 after Collis P. Huntington was recruited for money, and expanded the railroad east into Newport News in the 1880's. A hundred years later, the railroad officially became the CSX, after a long association with the B&O and then the Chessie System 1972-1987. I have a merger chart here
Today, CSX, Amtrak, and the Buckingham Branch RR all service Staunton.
More historical trivia: The area of Staunton surrounding the railroad station is known as The Wharf, a curious name for a neighborhood that is nowhere near a wharf! In fact, the name is an historical one dating to the 19th century. The warehouses in this neighborhood reminded people of buildings that you might see along a wharf. In Staunton's case, the railroad acts in same manner as a wharf, and in fact, the neighborhood's old warehouses really do look like those that one might see along the waterfront of a port city.
Below is the area around
Staunton from a 1944 USGS topo map.
I found these maps at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/virginia/ go figure... Texas :-)
Below are two sections from an 1887 USGS topo map, the bottom one is a continuation of the first one.
If you're coming in from the south, such as southwestern Virginia (Salem, Roanoke), or Tennessee via I-81, get off at exit 222 just after passing I-64, heading into town on Richmond Ave.
Coming down from the north via I-81, take the same exit.
If you're coming over from Charlottesville or Richmond via I-64, bear to the right onto I-81 and take the very first exit, which is #222.
Coming in from the west via I-64 from, say, Charleston WV, head south out of Charleston on I-77/64, and then head east at Beckley to I-81 at Lexington, then go north to exit 222.
1 Former C&O Rwy Depot
The station is on the left with the curved canopy. The signal pictured below is on the right pointed to by the yellow arrow.
2 Tower and Amtrak Station
Not sure if this structure was a tower at one time or not, if so, it must have been difficult to see trains from with the platform canopy in the way.
Amtrak also uses the bottom floor for their station and
is open about an hour before trains arrive.
Staunton is serviced 3 times a week by the Cardinal, Amtrak trains #50 and #51.
The Cardinal provides service between NYC, DC, and Chicago via a "southernly" route.
Travel time by train from Charlottesville is about 1:12hrs and costs $11.
A trip to Richmond will cost around $20, but goes by bus between Charlottesville and Richmond.
To/from Washington DC, it's a 4:29 ride and will set you back $64.
More info below.
3 the Depot Grill
Not really a railroad attraction per se, but very worthy for stopping in at and having lunch or dinner, prices AND food are great! The Depot Grill is the "best" place in town to eat, well, it's the only place I did eat at.... so......
4 the Buckingham Branch Railroad
The Buckingham Branch RR is the largest shortline in Virginia. They are railfan friendly, and a stop at either Doswell or Dilwyn will prove. To boot, the owner's daughter used to live across the light rail tracks from where I live in Thorton.
Their website is here, and has a fair bit of railfan oriented stuff on it.
Below is some stuff from their website.
5 "Bridge 2" and the Art
Interesting watering can and flower pot where Lee Highway goes under the tracks.
6 Abandoned Coal Tipple
7 Shenandoah Valley RR
Friday, June 21st, 2013
Staunton is served by two Amtrak trains, NB #50, and SB #51. #50 is scheduled to come thru at 1:37PM, train #51 2:59PM. On this day, Amtrak train #50, since it is coming from Chicago, was running about 90 minutes late. The SB train was only running about 15 minutes late. As chance would have it, they both got here at just about the same time. Train #50 came arrived first around 3:00, and immediately after they passed on the siding to the north of the station, #51 arrived.
Next to the Tracks
The only signal I came across in my short time going through town - they are just east of the station for EB traffic. Just around the bend are the WB signals, but there is no way to easily get pictures without walking down the tracks. Definitely C&O styling if you are at all familiar with their equipment, with red on the top of the upper head. According to one railfan I met at the station, the C&O signals are soon to be replaced by newer "darth vader" color lights.
Staunton supposedly had the very first volunteer fire company in the state.
At some point in time, the city decided to make the all volunteer station part paid, and part volunteer... then, to the dismay of those that were volunteers, they made it all paid. Many cities, especially in Florida, are finding out that it is very expensive to pay for the retirement of all of those former employees. We'll see how Staunton fares, maybe they will invite the volunteers back. The West Friendship Volunteer Fire company in Howard County MD is a good example of what can be accomplished when people and the local government work together, as they have a mix of both paid and volunteer.
City of Staunton Fire Department Station #1
At the corner of N Augusta St and Pump St. More info from the historical page above: In 1911, the Staunton Fire Department purchased the first motorized fire apparatus in the state. Named "JUMBO" by its manufacturer, the fully restored Robinson Pumper Fire Engine is on view daily at the Staunton Fire Department. Since the fire engine is located at the Fire Department. It is essentially open 24 hours a day!
Augusta County Fire Company #10
Along Richmond Ave near the Walmart.
Staunton has a whole lot of stuff to visit and see, if they interest you. The station area is littered with bunches of antique and specialty stores. Staunton also has a lot of very cool looking churches, none of the modern stuff that you find in newer areas like the burbs around established cities. Enjoy you're visit.
I love trains, and I love signals. I am not an expert. My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page. This is something I have fun with while trying to help others. My webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in one convenient place. There are plenty of other good websites to help me in this effort, and they are listed in the links section on my indexa page, or as needed on individual pages. Please do not write to me about something that may be incorrect, and then hound the heck out of me if I do not respond to you in the manner you would like. I operate on the "Golden Rule Principle", and if you are not familiar with it, please acquaint yourself with how to treat people by reading Mathew 7:12 (among others, the principle exists in almost every religion). If you contact me (like some do, hi Paul) and try to make it a "non-fun" thing and start with the name calling, your name will go into my spambox list! :-)
Please Note: Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them. For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.
If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct. Once in a while, an error may creep in, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names. Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations. I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area. Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them. Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature. While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!!
My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a
thousand words, especially for railfanning. Text descriptions only
get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented. Take
along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still
better if you get lost! I belong to AAA, which allows you to get
local maps for free when you visit the local branches. ADC puts
out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their
state maps do not have the railroads on them. If you can find em,
I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and
concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where
tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.
Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.
Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info is here
Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.
Last Modified 13-May-2014