Farmville, VA and the Tidewater Railroad in 1907

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Mon Jul 9 20:23:57 EDT 2007

My, how times and attitudes change. About 18 months ago Farmville gave up
its one railroad line with barely a whimper of protest for the bright
prospect of a hiking trail. This at the time when the state was making
serious plans for the reintroduction of passenger service on several lines,
including the NS line through Farmville and would have supported the case
for retaining the railroad intact even if NS abandoned service over it.
Apparently there were no enough people in the Farmville area who thought
rail service and the prospect of once again being served by passenger trains
were important enough to even make the case. I talked with several
community leaders there at the time, but their attitude was that it was a
done deal between the railroad and certain state politicians and it was
hopeless to fight it. The case could still be made to preserve the
right-of-way since all the bridges are still intact, including high bridge,
but the political will is not there and forces, including the railroad, that
pushed the trail as a better use than a railroad appear to have steamrolled
any local effort to make the case for preserving the rail option.

Don't get me wrong. Rails-to-trails is wonderful when the alternative is
losing the railroad and gaining nothing. Such was not the case in
Farmville. In this case, the railroad and certain friendly politicians made
a preemptive move to persuade the town and county leaders of the area that
there was no way to mothball or otherwise preserve the rail option. The
trail plan was a way to make sure that there would be an entrenched use in
place to prevent the rail option from ever arising again.

Sam Putney

----- Original Message -----
From: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at>
To: <nw-mailing-list at>
Sent: Saturday, July 07, 2007 9:21 PM
Subject: Farmville, VA and the Tidewater Railroad in 1907

Just something that I came across yesterday and
thought that I'd share everyone...

100 Years Ago.In The Herald
Gleaned and Edited by Robert G. Flippen

July 5, 1907
Farmville's Pressing Need

Editor Herald: - I have often been reminded of the large
expenditure of money and outlay when I look at the granolithic
sidewalks and stone and brick paved streets and it frequently occurs
to me how all this expense might come to mean but little to our town
if something is not done to make the town itself forge ahead. We are
holding our own just now it is true, but new competitors are
springing up not far distant, which by their traffic location will
soon begin to take our trade away from us and in the course will of a
few years, through we may still have our sidewalks and paved streets,
there will be fewer people to travel them and the rumble of the wagon
cease to sound the note of business. I do not mean that Farmville
will cease to be, or that business will come to an end here, but I do
mean to say that it will only be a quiet unprogressive country town
constantly losing in importance.
What we need here most is another railroad and we have the
opportunity of getting a railroad connection with the great Tidewater
Railroad and also with the C.&O. by connection at Arvonia. This line
can built at less cost than any similar road I ever knew of. A
company will build from Arvonia to the Tidewater through Farmville if
those along the line will take one-third of the bonds of the road, or
even less. This one-third will not come to more than $20,000 and
moreover it will be secured by first mortgage bonds on the road. If
we are content to do nothing we will soon lose our Lunenburg and
Charlotte trade. The towns now, being built will take much of the
trade that rightfully belongs to us.
I learned from Mr. Hugh Davis, who was one of the committee,
to see the officials of the Tidewater Railroad, that this company has
brought more coal lands in Virginia and West Virginia than the two
big coal roads, N.&W. and C.&O., have purchased combined and this
including the large purchase recently made by the N.&W.
If we could have coal delivered as cheaply as Norfolk and
other cities far more distant from the coal fields than Farmville, we
could doubtless be able to induce manufacturing plants to come here
owing to the cheapness of living and the low rent for land and
buildings. Many of these plants are now located in cities on account
of cheapness of coal and we all know that this means high wages to
employees to meet the living expenses of the cities.
I hope that the people of Farmville will see the importance
of this road. Some years ago a subscription was circulated and a few
of us subscribed. Let us take hole of this matter and raise the
necessary money and get this railroad which is undoubtedly the
greatest need of the town, not to say the whole country.

William Duvall

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