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South Branch Valley Railroad

South Branch Valley Railroad

Overview
The South Branch Valley Railroad consists of a 52.4 mile (84.33 km) length of railroad in the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

 extending north along the South Branch Potomac River from Petersburg
Petersburg, West Virginia
Petersburg is a city in Grant County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 2,423 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Grant County.-History:...

 to the CSXT mainline at Green Spring
Green Spring, West Virginia
Green Spring is an unincorporated census-designated place and railroad town in Hampshire County, West Virginia, USA. As of the 2010 census, its population was 218. Green Spring is located north of Springfield on Green Spring Road near the confluence of the North and South Branches of the Potomac...

 adjacent to the Potomac River
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

. At Green Spring, the CSXT mainline connects the SBVR to Cumberland
Cumberland, Maryland
Cumberland is a city in the far western, Appalachian portion of Maryland, United States. It is the county seat of Allegany County, and the primary city of the Cumberland, MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area. At the 2010 census, the city had a population of 20,859, and the metropolitan area had a...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 to the west and Martinsburg
Martinsburg, West Virginia
Martinsburg is a city in the Eastern Panhandle region of West Virginia, United States. The city's population was 14,972 at the 2000 census; according to a 2009 Census Bureau estimate, Martinsburg's population was 17,117, making it the largest city in the Eastern Panhandle and the eighth largest...

, West Virginia to the east. SBVR has been owned and operated by the West Virginia State Rail Authority (SRA) since it was sold by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad on October 11, 1978.
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Encyclopedia
The South Branch Valley Railroad consists of a 52.4 mile (84.33 km) length of railroad in the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

 extending north along the South Branch Potomac River from Petersburg
Petersburg, West Virginia
Petersburg is a city in Grant County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 2,423 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Grant County.-History:...

 to the CSXT mainline at Green Spring
Green Spring, West Virginia
Green Spring is an unincorporated census-designated place and railroad town in Hampshire County, West Virginia, USA. As of the 2010 census, its population was 218. Green Spring is located north of Springfield on Green Spring Road near the confluence of the North and South Branches of the Potomac...

 adjacent to the Potomac River
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

. At Green Spring, the CSXT mainline connects the SBVR to Cumberland
Cumberland, Maryland
Cumberland is a city in the far western, Appalachian portion of Maryland, United States. It is the county seat of Allegany County, and the primary city of the Cumberland, MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area. At the 2010 census, the city had a population of 20,859, and the metropolitan area had a...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 to the west and Martinsburg
Martinsburg, West Virginia
Martinsburg is a city in the Eastern Panhandle region of West Virginia, United States. The city's population was 14,972 at the 2000 census; according to a 2009 Census Bureau estimate, Martinsburg's population was 17,117, making it the largest city in the Eastern Panhandle and the eighth largest...

, West Virginia to the east. SBVR has been owned and operated by the West Virginia State Rail Authority (SRA) since it was sold by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad on October 11, 1978. Upon purchasing the B&O's South Branch line, West Virginia became the first state in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 to both own and operate a commercial freight railroad. In 1985, major flooding of the South Branch Valley destroyed most of the rail line, including all three bridges that crossed the South Branch Potomac River. Despite talk of shutting down the railroad after the flood, reconstruction began two years later.

The West Virginia State Rail Authority, owner and operator of the South Branch Valley Railroad, is headquartered in Moorefield
Moorefield, West Virginia
Moorefield is a town in Hardy County, West Virginia, USA. Moorefield is the county seat of Hardy County. It was originally chartered in 1777 and named for Conrad Moore, who owned the land upon which the town was laid out...

. The SBVR is also the host line for the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad
Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad
The Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad is a heritage railroad based in Romney, West Virginia.The railroad operates excursion trains over a former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line that runs from Green Spring to Petersburg...

 stationed in Romney
Romney, West Virginia
Romney is a city in and the county seat of Hampshire County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 1,940 at the 2000 census, while the area covered by the city's ZIP code had a population of 5,873. It is a city with a very historic background dating back to the 18th century...

.

West Virginia Railroad Company


While the mainline of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad had already been constructed through Hampshire County
Hampshire County, West Virginia
Hampshire County is a county located in the U.S. state of West Virginia. As of 2010, the population was 23,964. Its county seat is Romney, West Virginia's oldest town . Hampshire County was created by the Virginia General Assembly on December 13, 1753, from parts of Frederick and Augusta counties ...

 in the 1840s along the Potomac River, there existed no rail line linking with the South Branch Potomac River Valley. As early as 1875, a group of Kanawha County
Kanawha County, West Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 200,073 people, 86,226 households, and 55,960 families residing in the county. The population density was 222 people per square mile . There were 93,788 housing units at an average density of 104 per square mile...

 businessmen and entrepreneurs formed a company designated the West Virginia Railroad Company. The company's objective was to construct a railroad from the Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 border extending across the state to West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle. The line's northern terminus was to be designated a location in close proximity to the South Branch along the Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 border on the Potomac. Green Spring and South Branch Depot
South Branch Depot, West Virginia
South Branch Depot is an unincorporated community in Hampshire County in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Originally known as Forks of Potomac because of its proximity to the confluence of the North and South Branches of the Potomac River and then later in the early 20th century as French's Station...

 were considered as possible locations for the line's terminus. The company quickly obtained the authority to build its railroad across the state, especially because it would provide improved access to the Eastern Panhandle and Eastern Seaboard
Eastern seaboard
An Eastern seaboard can mean any easternmost part of a continent, or its countries, states and/or cities.Eastern seaboard may also refer to:* East Coast of Australia* East Coast of the United States* Eastern Seaboard of Thailand-See also:...

 for southwestern West Virginia. The company, however, folded a few years later.

Cumberland, Moorefield and Petersburg Railroad Company


Shortly after the West Virginia Railroad Company folded, businessmen and entrepreneurs in the South Branch Valley sought to take matters in their own hands and build a railroad from Petersburg to Green Spring on the B&O's mainline to Cumberland, Maryland
Cumberland, Maryland
Cumberland is a city in the far western, Appalachian portion of Maryland, United States. It is the county seat of Allegany County, and the primary city of the Cumberland, MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area. At the 2010 census, the city had a population of 20,859, and the metropolitan area had a...

 and Martinsburg, West Virginia
Martinsburg, West Virginia
Martinsburg is a city in the Eastern Panhandle region of West Virginia, United States. The city's population was 14,972 at the 2000 census; according to a 2009 Census Bureau estimate, Martinsburg's population was 17,117, making it the largest city in the Eastern Panhandle and the eighth largest...

. This goal was reflected in the company's title: the Cumberland, Moorefield and Petersburg Railroad Company. The company's plans differed from the West Virginia Railroad's in that it planned on connecting Petersburg
Petersburg, West Virginia
Petersburg is a city in Grant County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 2,423 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Grant County.-History:...

 and not Franklin
Franklin, West Virginia
Franklin is a town in Pendleton County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 797 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Pendleton County...

 to the B&O mainline. It was also only concerned with connecting the South Branch Valley to the B&O mainline and not connecting it with the rest of the state. Like its predecessor, the company was unable to get the line built.

South Branch Railroad Company


The line finally became a reality on September 1, 1884 when it was completed from Romney to Green Spring by the South Branch Railroad Company. The South Branch Railroad Company was another group of local entrepreneurs who were especially concerned with connecting Romney
Romney, West Virginia
Romney is a city in and the county seat of Hampshire County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 1,940 at the 2000 census, while the area covered by the city's ZIP code had a population of 5,873. It is a city with a very historic background dating back to the 18th century...

 to the B&O mainline because of its key location along the Northwestern Turnpike
Northwestern Turnpike
The Northwestern Turnpike is a historic road in West Virginia , important for being historically one of the major roads crossing the Appalachians, financed by the Virginia Board of Public Works in the 1830s. In modern times, west of Winchester, Virginia, U.S...

 (today's US 50). While the company intended to extend its railroad south to Petersburg via Moorefield
Moorefield, West Virginia
Moorefield is a town in Hardy County, West Virginia, USA. Moorefield is the county seat of Hardy County. It was originally chartered in 1777 and named for Conrad Moore, who owned the land upon which the town was laid out...

, it did not occur until after the turn of the century
Turn of the century
Turn of the century, in its broadest sense, refers to the transition from one century to another. The term is most often used to indicate a non-specific time period either before or after the beginning of a century....

. Once again, the task would be up to the local citizens of Hampshire County.

Hampshire Southern Railroad Company


In 1909, the Hampshire Southern Railroad Company led by William B. Cornwell (brother of Governor John J. Cornwell
John J. Cornwell
John Jacob Cornwell was a Democratic politician from Romney in Hampshire County, West Virginia. Cornwell served as the 15th Governor of the US state of West Virginia...

) of Romney began construction of its rail line south. The construction commenced from the Romney Depot north of town and then proceeded across the property of Valley View farm where a wooden trussel was then constructed across the South Branch. Once it reached the Northwestern Turnpike upstream, another station was opened as the West Romney Station near the mouth of Mill Creek. West Romney Station's post office was later referred to as Vanderlip
Vanderlip, West Virginia
Vanderlip is an unincorporated community in Hampshire County in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Vanderlip is located west of Romney along the Northwestern Turnpike and the South Branch Valley Railroad. At times the community was referred to as West Romney Station, while its post office used the...

 in honor of a B&O executive following its purchase of Hampshire Southern. Hampshire Southern continued the construction of its line along the western bank of the South Branch through The Trough
The Trough
The Trough is a large river gorge carved by the South Branch Potomac River and situated in the Allegheny Mountains of Hampshire and Hardy Counties, West Virginia, USA...

 and into Hardy County. By 1910, the first trains providing freight and passenger service between Romney and Moorefield were in service and the line lay completed from Moorefield to Green Spring. Once the line's construction to Moorefield was fulfilled, Hampshire Southern soon sold the line to the Moorefield and Virginia Railroad Company in 1911.

Moorefield and Virginia Railroad Company


Once the Moorefield and Virginia Railroad Company acquired the line, the remaining link to Petersburg was completed and the full length of the railroad's course in the South Branch Valley had been finished. William Cornwell, along with Eugene Ailes (son-in-law to John J. Cornwell), retained their interests in the railroad through their grantor company. After a brief ownership, Moorefield and Virginia transferred the line to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company.

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company


As part of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, the line became known as the South Branch line of the B&O. Initially its passenger service did well, especially in Hampshire County after schools in the county's western half were consolidated. Students from Green Spring, Springfield, and other points along the B&O line used the train to commute to Romney's senior high school. Passenger service was also popular with those from Petersburg and Moorefield because it allowed a faster and more convenient trip to Cumberland and Martinsburg. However, in the 1930s, the B&O did away with passenger service and focused on freight. The B&O abandoned the line completely in the 1970s. Out of concern for the region's economy and industries, the state of West Virginia purchased the line.

South Branch Valley Railroad


The West Virginia State Rail Authority (SRA) purchased the line from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad on October 11, 1978. Upon purchasing the B&O's South Branch line, West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

 became the first state in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 to both own and operate a commercial freight railroad. The state's ownership was almost short lived as a result of major flooding in the South Branch Valley in 1985. This flood destroyed most of the rail line, including all 3 bridges that crossed the South Branch Potomac River. Despite talk of discontinuing the railroad, re-construction began in 1987. With the completion of re-construction efforts on the railroad in 1989, rail service was once again available to the communities which it serves.

The re-birth of the railroad saw the arrival of the valley's Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad
Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad
The Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad is a heritage railroad based in Romney, West Virginia.The railroad operates excursion trains over a former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line that runs from Green Spring to Petersburg...

 in 1991. Running from Romney's Wappocomo Station on West Virginia Route 28 at Wappocomo plantation
Wappocomo (plantation)
Wappocomo is a late 18th-century Georgian mansion overlooking the South Branch Potomac River north of Romney, West Virginia, United States. Wappocomo lies along West Virginia Route 28 and the South Branch Valley Railroad...

 to Moorefield, the "Eagle" takes tourists on a sight-seeing excursion through the Trough. En route to the Trough, passengers view a number of historic sites, namely Valley View, Stoney Lonesome, Mill Meadow, the community of Vanderlip, the Nathaniel Kuykendall House, and other old plantations and farms that remain in the valley. While in the Trough, passengers view the bald eagles that have made their nesting grounds there, hence the train's name.

Communities serviced


Communities are listed from the southern terminus of the SBVR to its northern terminus on the Potomac. Also included are the B&O's old railroad post and express offices that may or may not have had permanent residents.

Hardy County, West Virginia

  • Durgon
    Durgon, West Virginia
    Durgon is an unincorporated community in Hardy County, West Virginia, USA. Durgon is located on US 220/WV 28/WV 55 at its junction with County Route 220/5 west of Moorefield along the South Branch Potomac River....

  • Taylor
    Taylor, West Virginia
    Taylor is an unincorporated community in Hardy County, West Virginia, USA. Taylor is located south of Moorefield on West Virginia Route 28/U.S. Route 220 between the South Branch Potomac and South Fork South Branch Potomac rivers....

  • Moorefield
    Moorefield, West Virginia
    Moorefield is a town in Hardy County, West Virginia, USA. Moorefield is the county seat of Hardy County. It was originally chartered in 1777 and named for Conrad Moore, who owned the land upon which the town was laid out...

  • Cunningham
    Cunningham, West Virginia
    Cunningham is an unincorporated community in Hardy County, West Virginia, USA. It lies north of Moorefield along the South Branch Valley Railroad and Trough Road on the eastern side of the South Branch Potomac River....

  • Mapleton
  • McNeill
    McNeill, West Virginia
    McNeill is an unincorporated community in Hardy County, West Virginia, USA. It lies near the South Branch Potomac River on Trough Road ....

  • Sycamore

Hampshire County, West Virginia

  • Wickham
    Wickham, Hampshire County, West Virginia
    Wickham is an extinct unincorporated community in Hampshire County in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Wickham originally developed as a stop on the South Branch Valley Railroad in the Trough. Wickham is located within a gap in Mill Creek Mountain on the South Branch Potomac River. One white...

  • Sector
    Sector, West Virginia
    Sector is an unincorporated community in Hampshire County in the U.S. state of West Virginia. It is located along the west bank of the South Branch Potomac River on Fleming-Sector Road across from Glebe....

     (Post Office)/Glebe
    Glebe, West Virginia
    Glebe is an unincorporated community in Hampshire County, West Virginia, USA. Glebe is situated at the mouth of the Trough on the South Branch Potomac River 9.5 miles southwest of Romney on South Branch River Road . The community received its name from the old stone glebehouse that was constructed...

     Station
  • Pancake
    Pancake, West Virginia
    Pancake is an unincorporated community in Hampshire County in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Pancake is located on Pancake Road , once connecting to South Branch River Road across the South Branch Potomac River. Pancake was once a stop along the South Branch Valley Railroad and is named for the...

  • Johnson
  • Vanderlip
    Vanderlip, West Virginia
    Vanderlip is an unincorporated community in Hampshire County in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Vanderlip is located west of Romney along the Northwestern Turnpike and the South Branch Valley Railroad. At times the community was referred to as West Romney Station, while its post office used the...

     (Post Office)/West Romney Station
  • Romney
    Romney, West Virginia
    Romney is a city in and the county seat of Hampshire County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 1,940 at the 2000 census, while the area covered by the city's ZIP code had a population of 5,873. It is a city with a very historic background dating back to the 18th century...

  • Vance
    Vance, West Virginia
    Vance is an unincorporated community in Hampshire County in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Vance lies on the South Branch Potomac River. Most of its residents reside along West Virginia Route 28. Buffalo Creek empties into the South Branch at Vance....

  • Wappocomo
    Wappocomo, West Virginia
    Wappocomo is an unincorporated community in Hampshire County in the U.S. state of West Virginia. The community is located south of Springfield on West Virginia Route 28 at Hanging Rocks along the South Branch Potomac River...

  • Ridgedale
    Ridgedale, West Virginia
    Ridgedale may refer to:* Ridgedale, Hampshire County, West Virginia* Ridgedale, Monongalia County, West Virginia, an unincorporated community in Monongalia County, West Virginia...

     George W. Washington's farm and its staff
  • Ritters
  • Grace
    Grace, West Virginia
    Grace is an unincorporated community on the South Branch Potomac River in Hampshire County, West Virginia, USA. Grace lies at the intersection of Grace's Cabin Road and West Virginia Route 28 across the South Branch from Blues Beach....

  • Springfield
    Springfield, West Virginia
    Springfield is an unincorporated census-designated place in northwestern Hampshire County in the U.S. state of West Virginia. As of the 2010 census, Springfield had a population of 477. Springfield is located north of Romney along West Virginia Route 28 at its junction with Green Spring Road and...

  • Donaldson
    Donaldson, West Virginia
    Donaldson is an unincorporated community in Hampshire County in the U.S. state of West Virginia. It is located in Green Spring Valley on Green Spring Road between Green Spring and Springfield. Donaldson was once a thriving railroad community along the South Branch Valley Railroad with its own...

  • Millen
    Millen, West Virginia
    Millen is an unincorporated community in Hampshire County, West Virginia, USA between Donaldson and Green Spring on Green Spring Road and the South Branch Valley Railroad...

  • Green Spring
    Green Spring, West Virginia
    Green Spring is an unincorporated census-designated place and railroad town in Hampshire County, West Virginia, USA. As of the 2010 census, its population was 218. Green Spring is located north of Springfield on Green Spring Road near the confluence of the North and South Branches of the Potomac...


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