Abandoned Rails of Roanoke

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Virginian Passenger Station: The Virginian Station, looking north from the South Jefferson Street bridge. Very active Norfolk Southern lines can be seen to the right of the station. Photo by Kevin M. Smith, March 2009.

The Virginian Passenger Station: The Virginian Station at Roanoke was built in 1909 and served as a passenger station for the Virginian Railway from 1910 until January 1956, at which time the Virginian Railway discontinued passenger service. The Virginian Railway merged with the Norfolk and Western Railway in 1959, during which time the station remained abandoned. When the Norfolk and Western Railway merged with the Southern Railway to create Norfolk Southern in 1982, ownership of the station passed to Norfolk Southern. From the early 1960s until 2001, the station was leased as the Depot Feed and Seed Inc. and later as the Depot Country Store. A fire severely damaged the station on January 29, 2001, ending its commercial/retail use and rendering it abandoned once again. Despite this, the station was added to the Virginia Landmarks Register in April 2003 and the National Register of Historic Places in June 2003, due in part to its significant contributions to the railroad industry and the development of Roanoke, as well as its unique architecture which was classic of railroad structures in this area for a very brief time.

Norfolk Southern donated the station and property to the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (RCNRHS) in 2005, around the time the City of Roanoke re-zoned the property from "Railroad" to "Downtown" status. In partnership with the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation, the RCNRHS is currently seeking to rehabilitate the building for use as a Virginian Railway museum, commercial space for lease, RCNRHS archive, and a restroom for users of the local Mill Mountain Greenway. Renovations began in September 2009 and are expected to be completed by February 1, 2011. Some federal funding is contributing to the project. As of January 2010, the station is listed as "retail property for lease" with a status of "under construction" on several online real estate listings.

The Virginian Station is located at 1402 South Jefferson Street SE at the intersection of Jefferson Street SE and Williamson Road SE in Roanoke, VA.

The Norfolk and Western Passenger Station: The Norfolk and Western Passenger Station at Roanoke was built in 1905 and served as a passenger station for the N&W from April 1, 1949 until May 1, 1971, at which time the N&W discontinued passenger service. The building was converted to office space for the railroad. When the N&W merged with the Southern Railway to create Norfolk Southern in 1982, ownership of the station passed to Norfolk Southern. Norfolk Southern later donated the station to the Foundation for Downtown Roanoke, who rehabilitated the building to appear similar to its 1949 design. The rehabilitation was completed in 2003 and the station reopened to the public in 2004. It houses the offices and welcome center of the Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well the O. Winston Link Museum and the Raymond Loewy Galleries, both owned and operated by the Historical Society of Western Virginia. The O. Winston Link Museum honors the famous photographer of the same name, who used black and white photography to document that last years of the N&W's steam railroading operations between 1955 and 1960. The building itself is currently owned by Center in the Square.

The Norfolk and Western Passenger Station is located at 101 Shenandoah Avenue NE at the intersection of Shenandoah Avenue NE and Williamson Road SE in Roanoke, VA.

Thanks to Kevin M. Smith for contributing information about this route.

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