Shenandoah Valley line

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Sat Apr 24 20:16:53 EDT 2010

Bob and the NW Mailing List,

The Shenandoah Line was never called the "H" line. It was always called
either the Hagerstown District, north of Shenandoah VA, or the Roanoke
District, to the south. After the Norfolk Southern merger, specifically
after Ricky Lee Gates in 1984 left some CR B30-7s standing on the mainline
north of Baltimore in front of an Amtrak train, freight traffic was forced
off the N.E. Corridor. NS began putting these trains westward over the
Manassas Branch to Riverton Junction, then north to Hagerstown. The crews,
now mostly ex-RF&P crews who have taken a buyout then gone to work for NS,
(as the ex-SR old heads had taken the buy-out and retired), operated on
these trains which required radio train orders on the unsignaled branch
given by milepost. The mileposts on the Manassas branch begin with a "B".
These radio train orders then specified a "B" milepost which differentiated
them from trains on the old SR main to Lynchburg. The ex-RF&P crews noticed
the "B" mileposts ended when they reached the fully signaled Hagerstown
District at Riverton Junction, hence the necessity of copying radio train
orders. In a sense of relief from the necessity of repeating these radio
train orders these ex-RF&P guys began calling the Hagerstown District the
"H" line. Of course the newbie railfans listening with their first scanner
picked up on the "H"-line nomenclature and it spread, via the internet. It
is my hope as a member of the NW Mailing List, that when you hear this
termed tossed out, you will politely correct these newbies, and remind them
that it is the Hagerstown District, and not an "H" line.

Mason Cooper

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