• Washington & Old Dominion Railroad

  • A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads
A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by CBRy
While I am aware of the history of the now-gone Washington & Old Dominion RR,
I am wondering if there is any surviving rails or trackage still visible anywhere
along the line? I know that a lot was paved over for the rail trail, but wonder if
maybe some industrial, private or other spurs might still be around.

Many times when RRs were abandoned and taken up, some trackage would be
left behind on private ROWs and property or just plain ignored, thus leaving a
trace of the railroad.

How about it, old timers?

  by RailVet
The only place that appears to still have remaining rail is the former Shreve oil facility adjacent to the site of the old East Falls Church station. The best time to see it would be now, while the vegetation on the chain link fence is low.
  by yellowdog
That's gone. Replaced by apartment buildings.

Up until about 5 years ago, WOD rails were still in place across Route 123 in Vienna but were finally removed when they installed that brick cross walk.

Finally, near Herndon there was a warehouse complex where I remember seeing rails still on their property but, that too, has probably succumbed to development.

Your best bet is going way out. Maybe near Hamilton.
  by RailVet
The apartment buildings are on the north side of the former right-of-way, while the former Shreve oil facility is on the south side. No apartment buildings there yet.
  by CBRy
Would this be in the location of the new Falls Chirch VFD station?
I was looking at some older aerial photos and that seems to be
the location of the facility that you described. Not really familiar
with the area there.

I do see apts north of that location. Zooming in shows nothing
of any railorad origins anymore whereas back in the 40s and 50s
it shows quite a bit of railroad activity there with sidings and oil

This is off of Lee Highway. Did I get it right?

Where around Hamilton would there possibly be rails? The only
facilities there would be the mill just before the old Hamilton
station on the trail. Again, no signs of rails there. I can zoom
down close enough to see them if they were there.
  by RailVet
The location of the new Falls Church VFD station is close but not quite there. If you walk on the trail westward from the Lee Highway crossing, you'll pass a cleared area with a bench on the south side of the tracks and then encounter some bushes. In Google Earth, you'll see some trucks backed up in some parking spaces adjacent to the trail, and that's where the remaining rails are, on the south side of the bush-covered chain-link fence. Because they were on private property, these rails weren't pulled up when the rest of the railroad was scrapped.

Unfortunately I don't think you'll find remaining rails in Hamilton or anywhere else along the line.
  by RailVet
During a lunch break today I walked up to where the rails still exist at the Shreve Oil facility and I confirmed they're still there. The switch was at the west end of the spur and there are some rails there, plus some at the east end of the spur. The latter are particularly visible from the W&OD RR Trail.
  by CBRy
I found a free access to a site called


You can type in the location, such as "East Falls Church VA"
and it will bring up a series of aerial photos tht span over
years. I use it in conjunction with Google Maps to look at
locations and see how things change over time.

Once on the location, you can left click with your mouse and
hold it down and move the maps around. Give it a try.

Some resolutions are better than others, but most are fairly
good. Give it a try.

I looked at the East Falls Church location and the FD is actually
at the throat of the industrial yard at the oil facility. The
spaces where the trucks are parked is an old coal trestle in
older pics. I did find the tracks that you all mentioned along
the route.
  by CBRy
Simply amazing how such a vast and comprehensive rail
line could vanish so completely in such a short time! Just
another example of politics and pressure from the highway

And that line COULD have been used as a commuter rail
rapid transit route rather than a "walking trail" and taken
traffic off of congested roads.

The WO&D seems to have met the same fate as streetcars
and for the same reasons.
  by fp7fan
I had an early version of a mountain bike and used to ride the trail from Sterling to Purcellville back before it was paved - it was pretty rough in places in those days. There weren't any remaining sidings, but I remember seeing rotting ties here or there in the weeds and I think there were some sections of rail along the right-of-way in a swampy area around Paeonian Springs. Also, stub ends of rail remained at some road crossings, but I can't remember exactly which crossings.
  by jhdeasy
Isn't the Norfolk Southern trackage on the north side of old town Alexandria, which serves (served) the powerplant and a warehouse, which crosses George Washington Memorial Parkway and joins the CSX (former RF&P) mainline at Slater's Lane, former W&OD trackage?
  by CBRy
If I have my research correct, the line to the power plant and printing plant
was actually originally the old Orange & Alexandria line. W&OD switched it,
I believe, but didn't actually own it. RailVet might have some better info on
this. He's a Herndon native and railroad historian especially on VA and US
Military Roads. The Orange & Alexandria was taken over by the USMRR in
the Civil war was operated for the duration. There is also an old RR tunnel
in the vicinity in Alexandria Old Town that was part of this RR. No longer
has tracks, but has data plaques explaining it. Now used for pedestrians.
  by RailVet
From what I've read, when the W&OD leased the line from the Southern in 1912, this portion of the original Alexandria, Loudoun & Hampshire wasn't included in the lease, so it wasn't part of W&OD operations. Had the W&OD been switching the power plant, it might have been able to survive past 1968 on just that short segment, but I believe it was always the Southern doing the switching.

The rail tunnel is the Wilkes Street Tunnel in the southern part of the City of Alexandria and, although the rails are long gone, I believe it's still open for pedestrian use. These were, however, Southern tracks and not part of the W&OD's operation.