Doswell: 150-year Link between North & South

RF&P GP35 #138 leads a merchandise train south towards Richmond, Virginia in January 1988 (Stanley Short photo)

Railroading began in what is today known at Doswell, VA in 1836 with the arrival of the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad. One year later, the Louisa Railroad began pushing west from the location, by then referred to as Hanover Junction. After some years of squabbling between the two roads, in 1851 the Louisa crossed the RF&P and built its own line to Richmond.

The Louisa went on to become the Virginia Central, and in 1866, it was purchased by the Chesapeake & Ohio, becoming their Piedmont Subdivision. In 1890, the name Hanover Junction was changed to Doswell. The interlocking tower was built in 1930 by the RF&P to C&O standards and manned by the RF&P. It has been unmanned since 1958, when control was moved to Richmond. It has been preserved to house the signal equipment for the interlocking. On Oct. 10, 1991, the RF&P was purchased by CSX and is now their RF&P Subdivision. CSX leased the Piedmont Subdivision (along with the Washington and Mountain Subdivisions) to the Buckingham Branch Railroad in 2004. Currently, approximately 35-40 Amtrak and CSX freight trains a day use RF&P Subdivision. Buckingham Branch Railroad has two locals based out of Doswell and power is kept there for their use. In addition, BBRR runs a number of westbound CSX empty coal and grain trains via their Piedmont Subdivision. That traffic is sporadic, with as few as one or two a day, up to ten or more.

(Written by Stanley E. Short)

New: 1 April 2019


Photo Exhibits

Florida-bound Siver Meteor (RF&P Train 57) races past the Doswell passenger depot on November 1, 1970. In Richmond, VA, E8A #1011 and a sister unit will be replaced by SCL E-unis to power the stainless-steel looking train on final 20 hour-journey south to Miami. (Marty Bernard)

On August 21, 1969 there was a freight train derailment north of Doswell blocking all the northbound and southbound passenger trains. SCL 595 with the northbound Silver Meteor turns on to the C&O at Doswell, VA to head west to Gordensville, VA. The E8A was ex-SAL 3056, built 11/52. (Marty Bernard photo)

Westbound C&O Train No. 41, the Newport News section of the "George Washington", hammers across the RF&P diamond at Doswell in April, 1970. In Charlottesville, No. 41 will combine with No. 1, the Washington section, for the run west. (Stanley Short photo)

The brakeman walks back to the head end of an eastbound manifest after making a pick up of RF&P interchange cars at Doswell, VA on Feb. 11, 1978. At this point in time, catching three Geeps in the same paint scheme was a treat. (Stanley Short photo)

Southbound Auto Train blasts through Doswell on 12 June 1977 with two U36Bs; AT's office car trails behind the power. The company's fleet of four-axle GEs were built specifically for AutoTrain, but in accordance with SL (the host railroad) specs. (Stanley Short)

A trio of general Electric-built P30CHs roll a slightly late-running Amtrak Auto-Train on the RF&P at Doswell back in 1989. Amtrak, not long afterwards, retired and replaced the passenger-hauling, six-axle units with GE's new Genesis series four-axle P40 locomotives. (Don Kalkman photo)

RF&P FP7 No. 1202 was leading an E8A and two geeps as manifest No. 109 passed Doswell on 13 November 1971. RF&P was extremely short of power in 1971 and part of 1972 and some E8As were withheld temporarily from Amtrak and used on freights. (Stanley Short photo)

Southbound RF&P TOFC hotshot No. 275 blasts through Doswell on the morning of 9 February 1974. The piggy-backer is led by a trio of GP35s, including #137, sans nose logo. The all-EMD RF&P owned no six-motor freight locomotives (Stanley Short photo)

Eastbound C&O No. 794 works the RF&P interchange at Doswell on 19 July 1979 with three GEs. When throttling, the second unit, U25B No. 8104 coughed up a sizable fur ball; there wouldn't be many more. Within two months No. 8104 would be retired and eventually traded to GE. It wasn't as lucky as some of its brethren, which went on to a second life in Mexico. (Stanley Short photo)

A late running No. 794 bangs across the RF&P main line at Doswell with lone B30-7 No. 8280 for power. The Chessie manifest usually rated two, three or more units and made mid-afternoon appearance in Doswell. HN Tower was built to C&O specifications, but was owned by RF&P and faced the RF&P main line. Although boarded up, it housed signal control apparatus for RF&P's HN interlocking. (Stanley Short photo)

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