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Mon Aug 24 22:07:07 EDT 2009
To get to the ex-Blue Ridge station site, take US 460 east out of
Roanoke toward Lynchburg, or the reverse from Lynchburg west. At Blue
Ridge, get on CR 805 south off Rte 460 (should the road have been
renumbered, just ask locals for "old 805" that goes to the NS
bridge-overpass near the station site) and head in about .3 mi. When in
sight of the overpass, park along the roadside (little traveled). Walk
east up a rise to the still-active NS tracks, just a minute or two's
walk. The station site is east just several hundred feet from the
overpass, between the mainline and a spur off the WB main that circled
around the station on the north side. When I last visited the site
early in this decade the spur was still active for stone crusher
service, within sight to the east; a track still departed north from
the station site (above-referenced curved track) to part of the
limestone complex. The station occupied a fairly tight squeeze between
the WB main and the curved track.
There actually were two "photographer's bridges". The most celebrated,
at the eastern end of a .75-mi s-curve and about .4 mi. west of the
station, was on CR 616 about .3 mi south off Rte 460. The bridge was
dismantled decades ago and not replaced. CR 616 ends near the bridge
site, but you'd have to make your way through lots of thicket to reach
the track. I actually have walked west along the track from the
station site to the bridge site, admittedly not so prudent. But the
trek evokes an epic story.
The second bridge sought by photographers in N&W's steam era still
stands (to my knowledge) just east of Buford's Gap (last and first
Appalachian challenges for EB and WB traffic, respectively; .7 mi east
of the station site) just east of the Blue Ridge Stone Corporation's
landmark crushed limestone "cone" on the south side of Rte 460. Turn
south off Rte 460 on a private road leading to the bridge, a hop and a
skip away. The limestone "cone" will be in sight to your right.
At Blue Ridge trackside you'll find a bounty of aging, rusting track
hardware all over, dating back to the "glory days". Also ankle-deep
cinder residue from the bowels of N&W's legendary fleet. Mute
testimonials to a grand rail saga..
The area signal tower, long gone, was at Villamont, about two miles east
of Blue Ridge, hard by the WB main.
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