Join us for a ride on the Abingdon Branch

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Thu Jul 30 21:28:02 EDT 2015


We are pleased to announce that the Norfolk and Western Historical 
Society is sponsoring the first ever “Putting tracks on the branches 
event”. Our first trip in this series will be September 19, 2015 on the 
Norfolk and Western’s Abingdon Branch or as it is known to the rest of 
the world The Creeper Trail.

The line started out in the late 1800s as the Virginia and Carolina 
Railway to haul timber and mineral resources out of the mountains. It 
was purchased by the Norfolk and Western Railway in 1918 and renamed the 
Abingdon Branch. At its peak, the line ran 55 miles to West Jefferson, 
NC. This little branch became for the N&W’s little 4-8-0 class M steam 
locomotives which ran the end of steam in the late 1950’s. The sounds of 
the hooter whistle went silent and were replaced by the rumble of the 
567 EMD prime movers and five chime nathan horn. The line continued 
operations with diesel locomotives until it was damaged by flooding in 1977.

If you have never biked a rails-to-trail before this is a good one to 
start with. First, our ride will start at Whitetop station and then ride 
15 miles to Damascus _all downhill_, so very little pedaling is 
needed.We will be losing almost 1200 feet in altitude, plus we will be 
stopping and talking about the history of the line and showing the sites 
where O Winston Link took some of his most famous photos. So there will 
be of chances to catch your breath, but you won’t need to.

We will start our day at the bicycle outfitters in Damascus where we 
will pick up our bikes and receive basic operating and safety 
instructions.We then will board vans for our ride up to Whitetop station 
where we will gather to start our ride down the trail. While riding down 
this stretch keep in mind that the 4-8-0s climbed this grade with up to 
10 cars and one coach.Soon we will reach Green Cove, the place of O 
Winston Link’s famous picture of old maude the horse bowing its head to 
the steam engine. We will be stopping there for questions and looking 
though the depot. Then we will ride down to the creek crossing site of 
another famous O Winston Link photo. Keep in mind during your ride of 
what the engineer was seeing during your ride and allow yourself to step 
back to the 50s. Leaving Creek Junction we will ride to our next stop at 
Taylors Valley. From there we will ride back to Damascus to return our 
rented bikes.

We are planning on the ride taking about four hours. This is a very easy 
ride and it is going to be the first of what we hope are many more 
branch line tours to come. And believe me if you have never done it you 
will love it and if you have ridden this before the speakers and their 
knowledge will give you a new love for this branch. We will have 
transportation at each of the stopping points if you think this is too 
much for you to take you down and someone to change tubes if needed. So 
plan on coming and enjoy putting tracks back on the branch!

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