B&O Railroad south of Staunton, Va

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Tue Oct 2 00:32:14 EDT 2007

I know for a fact that there was a abandoned railroad line on the property now occupied by the Staunton Mall, through my research on the history of that mall for another historian project. However, I have not nailed down where exactly on the mall property this abandoned line was located.
For those not familiar with the Staunton Mall it is located on US 11 on the south border of the city of Staunton and opened as a open-air shopping center in 1969. Its age is the reason for my research project.
Lois J. Ponton

> Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2007 16:42:18 -0700> Subject: B&O Railroad south of Staunton, Va> To: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org> From: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org> > A friend of mine sent me copies of the recent> inquiries of the remnants of the former Valley> Railroad of Virginia south of Staunton so I'll chime> in on some of what I know. > > With regards to the historic bridge near MP 219 on> I-81, just outside Staunton, this bridge was built in> the aborted first attempt by the B&O to get south of> Staunton in the 1873-1874 period and after spending> about $1.25 million, the B&O pulled the plug rather> abruptly and permanently effective November 25,1874.> Claiborne Mason's group of contractors were the ones I> believe at work in the section where the bridge over> Folly Mills Creek has been preserved with the date> "1874" emblazoned it, hopefully in perpetuity for all> to see and remind themselves of what once was in this> section of the Valley.> > Due to the B&O's stubbornness and inability to get> along amicably with ole Billy Mahone of the AM&O, (the> B&O wasn't alone on this issue as we all know our AM&O> history), even before they started committing funds to> the project of connecting up at Salem, Mahone was none> too hospitable toward any Northern corporation> especially one which he felt was going to be removing> Virginia's wealth to a northern carpetbagging> capitalistic monopoly. These were HIS thoughts, not my> opinions. In addition, the Financial Panic of 1873> made money really short, especially for railroad> mortgages as something like 1/3 of the railroads in> the south went into receivership in this period.> > The B&O was there and before the Shenandoah Valley> could really get its act together when Tom Scott and> the PRR pulled their money out in a stockholders fight> around 1874 when the Southern Railway Securities Co.> was broken up as a result as well as removing excess> funds from everything including their initial backing> of the Shenandoah Valley RR.> > HOWEVER, and here is something which very few have> been aware of until now, the SV leased the Valley RR> of Virginia between Harrisonburg & Staunton from July> 10,1876 to January 10,1877 when the B&O RR and City of> Baltimore split over some questioned payments or was> it non-payments regarding the VRR. These 2 together> formed an impenetrable voting bloc on the remaining> Valley RR stockholders, and in this ONE instance, the> locals prevailed.> > The VRR, all 25 miles of it was managed/operated by> our good friend Milnes of early SV history and then> when the facade of the B&O for continuing the line> south of Staunton and onto Lexington showed what B&O's> motives truly were, they let the lease expire, having> paid all their bills as per the requirements of the> lease. That is why that the only photos of a Valley> engine with the name "Valley" on it apparently> occurred during this one brief period. Now, you ask,> where did Milnes get his equipment? He leased it from> the Western Maryland RR. I can't tell you what engine> # it was from the WM but I can tell you that when the> engine first appeared at Harrisonburg in early July> 1876, a youngster replied something along the likes to> a chum "See, didn't I tell you Mr. Milnes was> important? He has an engine with his name on it; W.M.> RR." True story.> > There is more to this 6-month tale but the long and> the short of it was that once the SV concluded that> the B&O was NOT interested in either building it> themselves or permitting his group to do so, he wisely> pulled out. Then 2 years later, under the exact same> financial constraints as the B&O had, the SV built the> line which we all know and love today, did it in 3> years and while they were over-extended financially in> it which caused the receivership, it was the right> move at the right time.> > Had the B&O been wiser and more aggressive, they could> have been there first and we would have no line which> we know today.> > The B&O's Valley RR picked up the scaps and pieces in> the Summer of 1881 as the Richmond & Allegheny built> into Lexington, but even then it took them 2 years to> start anew on the line which was about 25-50%> completed 7 years earlier. Limping, the B&O made it to> Lexington and that was as far as they would ever get.> > Nearly 60 years later, the B&O wanted OUT of the> valley and it was apparently no secret. The Chesapeake> Western stepped up to the plate and agreed to purchase> the 62 miles of completed line plus the 51.23 of never> completed right-of-way to Salem on one condition; that> the B&O must have prior approval of abandonment of the> line south of Staunton before they would take title to> the 25-miles which was worth keeping. That abandonment> was approved for November 1,1942 and the sale was> approved effective midnight, December 31,1942/January> 1,1943.> > I have been told that it took Chesapeake Western until> July or August, 1943 to complete the scrapping> operations south of Staunton which means that the> Folly Mills Bridge last felt the breath of the iron> horse perhaps in July as that is only 5 or 6 miles> south of Staunton.> > Today, that is the most visible remnant of this failed> effort. Much of I-81 between there and Salem used the> old B&O right-of-way but as has already been noted on> these pages, pieces of the old stonework are still> visible here and there if one knows where to look.> > I look forward to further discussions regrading this> whole topic, especially, the SV's operations of the> Valley RR for 6 months.> > Bob Cohen> ORL96782 at yahoo.com> > > ____________________________________________________________________________________> Tonight's top picks. What will you watch tonight? Preview the hottest shows on Yahoo! TV.> http://tv.yahoo.com/ > > ________________________________________> NW-Mailing-List at nwhs.org> To change your subscription go to> http://list.nwhs.org/mailman/options/nw-mailing-list> Browse the NW-Mailing-List archives at> http://list.nwhs.org/pipermail/nw-mailing-list/

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