Riverton Junction - a brief history

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Tue Aug 5 12:01:31 EDT 2008

A brief and I do mean brief history is as follows:

It was created when the Shenandoah Valley RR first came thru there in late 1879/early 1880. As they were there SECOND, there were negotiations as to approval by today's standards of the intersection. Interlocking was years in the future and the SV and later N&W when they took over the N&W ALWAYS had to man the tower.

The tower was approved and whatever signal system they had for the time BEFORE they were permitted to cross the old Manassas Gap line there, byt then the Washington city, Virginia Midland & Great Southern RR or Virginia Midland for everyday conversation. This RR (the Va. Midland) was controlled and owned by the B&O from October 1872 until August 1881.

A station was built just south of the intersection around this time. There are photos in the fine book by mason Cooper on the history of the SV line. If not there, I have seen them from the Virginia Tech website.

In February or March 1910, the tower burned and was replaced by the N&W. The Southern's Riverton depot was always on the west side of the south fork of the Shenandoah River and it was closed sometime in the 1960's or 1970's and sat unused and forlorn for a time before being demolished.

The Riverton Depot & Tower of the N&W, replaced in 1910 after the fire continued to control the crossing until the Riverton & Front Royal stations of the N&W were combined in 1954 about 3 miles south.

The tower was closed sometime in the 1950's or 1960's.

The concrete footprints of both the old station and tower were still at the intersection the last time I visited the site 6 months ago.

There was long an interchange and connector track on the south side of the Southern track to go south onto the N&W. As things changed in the late 1980's a second connection was established in early 1989 to make a full wye connection and to make it a whole bunch easier for southbound trains on the Shenandoah line of the old N&W to head east onto the Harrisonburg Branch. This is what is frequently used today for the easy movement thru the intersection, now both pieces of the railroad now owned and controlled by Norfolk Southern.

That's the very abbreviated version.

Mason Cooper's Shenandoah Valley book gives a lot more on this and other locales all along the Shenandoah line and I have been digging into the nitty gritty of the old Manassas Gap line.

Not directly related to the intersection but germaine to history, the bridge over the South Fork of the Shenandoah River collapsed with 3 killed on November 29,1856 and it took until mid-April 1857 for repairs to be made at a cost of between $10,000 and $15,000 back then. There were reportedly 2 survivors of the wreck, one was the conductor who went for help and other was the agent at Buck's Depot, what is known as Buckton today, about 5 miles west of here. John G. Buck, recovered from his serious injuries, rode on the first train across the rebuilt bridge in April.

There's a whole bunch more if you're interested. Advise if you wish more info off list at ORL96782 at yahoo.com.

Bob Cohen

More information about the NW-Mailing-List mailing list