Victoria Railroad History Park
Where railroad history is being preserved for the future.
Victoria's founding history starts in the first years of the twentieth century with the fruition of the Tidewater Railroad. The town was named in honor of England's Queen Victoria, a person greatly admired by Henry H. Rogers, the railroad's financier and primary owner. Being 120 miles west of Norfolk, Virginia, Victoria was a division point for the railroad which became the VIRGINIAN RAILWAY COMPANY in 1907 and passenger service between those two points started in that same year. By the end of that decade, the VIRGINIAN reached far into West Virginia to the coal mining areas, also making important links to other railroads reaching the midwest. Newspapers carried advertisements for land to draw residents and developers. It was expected to become a twentieth century boom town. Typical railroad development brought the expected growth to the town, both in population and buildings, before leveling off in a score of years. The railroad and the town continued to prosper.
The Victoria station is pictured in 1910 while the view of the railroad yard is dated 1911. Both are from the collection of Greg Elam.
Starting in 1954, the Virginian began replacing its steam locomotives with diesel electric locomotives such as the pair shown here in this H. H. Harwood picture of a westbound hopper train pulling out of Victoria yard.
In December 1959 a significant event occurred which would affect Victoria; the VIRGINIAN merged with the neighboring Norfolk & Western railroad. Over the following twenty-five years, rail activity declined drastically along this section of the old VIRGINIAN and Victoria shifted away from being a railroad town.
In the twentieth first century, Victoria is still a very pleasant place to live and work with the VIRGINAN railroad still being a key ingredient because the VIRGINIAN RAILWAY is Victoria's history! The people who made the railroad as strong as it was and the people who appreciate the railroad's presence in the area are now reflecting back and seeking to recognize and preserve the town's heritage, its railroad heritage.
Columniating years of work in June 2005, Victoria had a railroad caboose in town again. Led by Greg Elam, the caboose 342 was obtained from Ken Miller of Roanoke and placed on a prepared section of track to become the centerpiece of the Railroad History Park of Victoria. Pictured at the caboose are (L-R) Greg Elam, Ken Miller and his parents Claudine and Elbert Miller and Victoria's mayor Carol Watson. Elbert and Ken had restored the caboose which was built originally by the railroad in its Princeton, WV shops in 1959.
The park continues to grow and add new historic railroad items. Shown is a bench made from freight car wheels made and used by the Virginian. Comfortable walking trails wind through the former yard, roundhouse station and shop areas where the buildings' footprints have been carefully preserved. Many activities are held in the park throughout the year, including Fall Festival Days in October when thousands return to Victoria.
Also annually in October is a reunion for former Virginian railroad employees who come from hundreds of miles away.
As Victoria looks forward to the celebration of its centennial, remembering the past becomes more vital. This advertisement appeared in the NORFOLK VIRGINIAN PILOT newspaper on August 4, 1907 proclaiming the advantages of the forming town.
- Greg Elam Photo
The snow strom of March 1 and 2, 2009 brought a beautiful coating to the 342, making it look as though it had just arrived in Victoria at the end of a coal train from West Virginia on a winter day more than fifty years ago.
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~ ~ ~ Getting To Victoria in southside Virginia ~ ~ ~
From Interstate 85 at Alberta, Victoria is 24 miles northwest on route 46 to Danieltown, route 137 to Kenbridge, then route 40 to Victoria.
From US route 460 at Crewe, travel 15 miles south on route 49.
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- Updated October 9, 2009 -
The Victoria Railroad History Park welcomes your funding support and contributions of old railroad pictures and items. They are greatly appreciated!
To discuss details, please contact Greg Elam at Victoria Railroad History Park: phone - 434-696-3545; P.O.Box 764, Victoria, Va., 23974-0764 email - VGN342@embarqmail.com