As described in another album page about a similar trip to Maryland, we really enjoyed taking a variety of "industrial archeology" excursions with the Smithsonian Resident Associates. This particular trip was to the Richmond area.

One memorable location of which I do not have a picture is the Richmond Triple Crossing, believed to be the only place in the US where three train lines cross over each other. I'm sure we stopped for a photo op, but I guess I didn't like the way my picture turned out because I didn't save it. It is unlikely that there were any trains passing at the time.

Coal Tipple

My note on the slide calls this a coal "tipple," but WWW research implies that a coal tipple is a specific structure at a coal mine used to put the mined coal into hopper cars for transport to market.

Structures similar to this that I've found online are called coaling towers. Terminology aside, this tower would have been used to coal steam locomotives. Virginia, a major coal mining state, and its railroads, continued to use coal long after other areas of the country had converted to diesel or electric.

I can't find any mention of this particular structure in Richmond nowadays so I wonder if it still exists. It would have been near the old Main Street Station, which can be seen below.

Main Street Station, Richmond, VA

Main Street Station was in the process of being "repurposed" as a shopping mall when it burned in 1983. At the time we were there it was being restored. After a checkered career as a mall and office building, Amtrak restored rail service to the station in 2003.

Unfortunately an elevated section of I-95 runs right past the station's clock tower, which detracts significantly from the streetscape.

There are plans to also renovate the historic train shed for commercial and transportation use.

Broad Street Station, Richmond

By contrast the Broad Street Station has never returned to service as a train station. It is now the Science Museum of Richmond.

Steam Engine

After visiting the Richmond stations, we continued on to the work site of a local train club. My slide notes don't contain any indication of the name of the club, but I think that it is the Old Dominion Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. At the very least I've been able to identify the engine shown here as belonging to them.

The plan was to have this locomotive steamed up and ready for a short excursion, but it wasn't cooperating. I no longer remember what the problem was, but the local folks were very frustrated that they couldn't show off their baby.

Motor Car

These little cars designed to take work crews to maintenance locations on the track were called speeders. They are too small to trip crossing gates. When my family would go to our fishing camp outside of Vicksburg, we had to cross a busy multi-track crossing and we were always on the lookout for "colts" as our friend Mr. Matt called them.

I don't have notes on any of the following maintenance equipment in the current inventory of the ODC. There are specialized clubs that are interested in speeders and other maintenance equipment, so perhaps these two found homes elsewhere.


NF&D was the Norfolk, Franklin & Danville Railway.

For a fun example of a speeder club excursion check this YouTube video.

Work Car

The note on my slide calls it a "work crew car." It has the Chessie System logo. Chessie ("sleep like a kitten") was the popular mascot of the C&O passenger service and was retained when the Chessie System was formed.

One year we went through a latch-hook rug craze. My mother made one for our spare bedroom and Jim made one ("two blue hills") for the spare bathroom. I found a kit with the Chessie kitten design and made it up for Jim's Christmas present. I was traveling a lot at the time so I could take it with me on business trips to do the work in secret.

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