The tracks of the Norfolk and Western Railway snaked through Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and the coalfields of West Virginia. For nearly 100 years, the Norfolk and Western brought freight, passengers, and economic vitality to large cities and rural mining towns. At each stop was the depot or station; some stations were large, architecturally ornate structures that represented the muscular energy and romantic era of this great steam railway with its famed J-class engines. In other places there were small wooden depots that depicted the hard-scrabble life of the mining communities, tucked amid steep mountain valleys that were indelibly shaped by the railway’s presence. Today some of those structures remain, while many disappeared when the railway ceased passenger or other service. The Norfolk and Western eventually merged with the Southern Railway, and though the trains of the Norfolk Southern still run along those same lines, they simply pass by where they used to stop many years ago.
About the Author
Author C. Nelson Harris has carefully selected archival images from the renowned historical Norfolk and Western photograph collection housed at Virginia Tech. These images, many never before published, date back nearly a century and convey the storied past of life along the rails.