Catawba Branch Aerial Photos

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Fri May 25 10:10:43 EDT 2012

Two years ago, I posted some aerial photos from Giles County of the
Virginian power plant, scanned from images in the Geology library
collection in the Virginia Tech library. Ken Miller asked me if there was
any coverage of Roanoke County, especially of the Catawba Branch. It has
taken me a while to get it together, but I finally got the time to go
through the files in the library and check out the images to scan. Unlike
Montgomery Co. and Giles Co., which are large sheets, the photos of Roanoke
Co. are 10x10 prints, but they still provide pretty good detail when
scanned at 600 DPI. There are overflights from 1937, 1953, and several
times in the '70s. Since the branch was truncated in 1943, I only selected
the '37 and '53 views. I also grabbed the print that was available that
covered Roanoke City (such coverage as it was, but it did get Shaffer's
Crossing and the Virginian yard). I used Photoshop to stitch the images
together into photo-mosaics to show the whole branch from Salem station all
the way to its terminus at Catawba Sanatorium Station, plus individual jpg
images are available. I'm working on rescanning the 1953 images to get the
full image (my scanner doesn't do the full width) to have a better archival
image stored away. Once that is done, I'll be glad to share these TIFF
images with anyone interested in them. I can set up an FTP for download or
ship them out on a CD/DVD. Each image is just under 60 Mb once I've scanned
two halves at a higher resolution.

The site to view the aerials (and the earlier ones from Giles) is at

Bruce in Blacksburg
Webmaster, Frograil Rail Tours
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