Todd's Railfan Guide to

In General
Getting Here


In General

Location / Name:
     Suffolk VA

What's Here:
     a former Seaboard station, now a museum
     a former N&W station
     a number of train over train railroad bridges

     GPS Coordinates: 36.728148, -76.583262 (Washington and Main Streets)
     ZIP: 23432 thru 23439

Scanner Frequencies:
Frequencies for Suffolk include: NS Road 161.190, NS Road #2 161.250 (used very little), and CSX at 160.590

Access by train/transit:
     Amtrak does not stop in Suffolk, but the twice daily trains pass through on the Norfolk Southern tracks.  Schedules are below, and is dated 9JUN2014
     Local bus service provided for by Suffolk Transit
     HRT - Hampton Roads Transit - discontinued service to Suffolk in 2011 - now serviced by Virginia Regional Transit
     Greyhound terminal shown below in floobydust (misc) section

Railroad Signals in the area:
     Plenty - all colorlight - see map

The Scoop:

Interestingly enough, Suffolk is supposed to be the largest city in Virginia in terms of area, which is hard to believe with the likes of Richmond, Roanoke and Norfolk.

Suffolk, because of it's location and proximity to Norfolk and the desire to reach the shipping that came into the ports there, was a focal point for most railroads coming in from the west.  The maps below illustrate what I mean.

Before the Civil War hit, Suffolk had two railroads coming through town, the Portsmouth and Roanoke RR and the Norfolk and Petersburg RR.  Later on, the Norfolk & Western, Atlantic Coast Line, Southern Rwy (via ACL trackage), Virginian, the Atlantic & Danville, and the N&S.   Some evidence of the old Virginian right-of-right can still be found if you know where to look (I don't :-(.

Today, CSX and the Norfolk Southern breeze thru. 

NS, of course, runs on the ex-N&W line.  It is the Norfolk District, which is part of the much larger Virginia Division.   The Norfolk district runs from Norfolk to Crewe VA. 

The CSX Line is the Portsmouth Subdivision (Portsmouth VA to Weldon NC), a part of the CSX Florence Division.  The Florence Division covers most of Virginia, North and South Carolina, and some of Georgia.

Suffolk also hosts a shortline, the Commonwealth Railway, part of the Genesee & Wyoming family.  It runs on 19 miles track, 16 1/2 of which is the former Norfolk, Franklin & Danville Rwy from Suffolk to Portsmouth.  Engine #444 is a GP-16, rebuilt by the Seaboard in the 80's.  #517 is former Santa Fe CF7, rebuilt from an F-7 in the early 70's.  They built a small marshalling yard in the Baileytown area of Suffolk.


Many thanks to Justin Cartwright for much of the division and signal information.
Thanks to Denver Todd for his help with this and the rest of my railfan guides and suggesting welcome changes to help all ya'll. 

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:
     http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/archiveThumbs.aspx?id=12422 Pictures by Dale Ward
     http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?railroad=Commonwealth%20Railway,%20Inc. Assorted photographers
     http://virginianrailwayheritagetrail.blogspot.com/  Photo history of the Virginian with a couple of pictures in Suffolk

Aerial shots are taken from either www.bing.com/maps or Google Maps as noted.  The screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

Pictures are 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!  Contact info is here

Getting Here

Let's see, there's a bunch of ways to get here depending on where you're coming from.

Let's start with the eastern shore, aka the DelMarVa peninsula.  US13 comes across the Chesapeake Bay in what is known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.  Most impressive if you have never been over (and under) it.  Stay on 13 once in Norfolk, and take it till you hit I-64 and head south on it.  It will whip around Chesapeake to the south of Norfolk.  As you come up to the junction with I-264 and US460, stay to the left and follow the signs for 460.  US460 takes you to Suffolk.  Once away from the interstates, US460 also joins forces with US58.  About a mile from downtown, you're looking for Portsmouth Road, business 58 to take into the downtown area.

Coming in from Richmond, do the I-64 thing till you hit exit 264, I-664.  Take it south until you see the signs for US460/58.


The dotted purple line above the CSX track used to be the Virginian Rwy right-of-way.
The CSX line is the old Seaboard tracks - the former N&W line is now Norfolk Southern.
The N/S line next to County Road 604 was the former Atlantic Coast line, next, to the left, was the Southern RR.
The dotted orange line left of the Southern was the old N&S RR, with a turntable and roundhouse on the south side of Washington.
The map above is a preliminary version - we're still workin on it


    1      Suffolk Seaboard Station Museum

GPS Coordinates: 36.733840, -76.581308

In the early 1990's the people of Suffolk developed a new interest in preserving their rapidly deteriorating landmarks.  One such landmark, the 1885 Seaboard Railroad Station, stood abandoned and in dire need of attention.  After a fire nearly destroyed the interior of the building in 1996, members of Suffolk Nansemond Historical Society began working on restoring the station to its original grandeur.  With the support of the City of Suffolk, the Virginia Department of Highways, as well as many interested Suffolk citizens, the Seaboard Railroad Station Museum opened its doors to the public on August 1, 2000.

  A picture before the restoration began.

The Suffolk Station Railroad Museum is owned and operated by Suffolk Nansemond Historical Society.  It features a scale model of the town of Suffolk and the Suffolk and Carolina branch of the Norfolk Southern Railroad as they were in 1907.  There are numerous items of railroad history on display, and special themed exhibits are frequently shown.  The Museum includes a gift shop with railroad related items, historical books and memorabilia, and locally produced food items.

The hours of operation of the Museum are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Their website is at: http://www.suffolktrainstation.org/





They didn't have one of these around to purchase, so I had to take pictures of the display... darn... nice drawing.

From the Virginian historic webpage mentioned above at the top of the page


    2      ex Norfolk & Western Rwy depot

GPS Coordinates: 36.727564, -76.577780




I was inside the depot and didn't hear the train in time to get outside for a good shot :-(

CWRY #517 in Suffolk.  This and the next two pictures by William Grimes from Wikipedia

CWRY #1552 in Suffolk

CWRY #444 in Suffolk, in RailLink colors.

NS/CR engines near the diamond, just east of the N&W depot.




This cantilever signal bridge is on the east side of the diamond, across the diamond from the N&W depot.
The track that branches to the left (in the two left pictures) with the signal is known as the CWRY Connection.



These signals are adjacent to the ex N&W station, seen above.












The SB schedule was "photoshopped" so it didn't take up oodles of room and bandwidth :-)





On the Sunday I came thru, this trackwork crew was taking a lunch break....


Virginia has to be the king of custom and personalized license plates, this is just one of many.....




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.



web statistics

NEW 02/24/2013
Last Modified 15-Mar-2015