The Lynchburg Old Line - Method of Operation?

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Thu Jul 21 11:52:56 EDT 2022


My knowledge, to the extent I have some, is from the late1950s, early 1960s era.

At this time, the Old Line saw six passenger trains daily, the westbound Phoebe Turn which usually went west just after No.26 went east, a local freight most days, and two or three movements each way between Island Yard and Durham Junction for connections with Kinney Yard on the “new” main line.

Signals and some switches were controlled from “NC Cabin” near Union Station.  This was a joint N&W, Southern, C&O operation which also controlled the various interchanges and crossovers between the three railroads near downtown Lynchburg and also the Old Main from west end Island Yard to about a mile west of Durham Junction. I spend many a late afternoon and early evening there and eventually was permitted to operate the signals and switches under the watchful eye of the Operator. (Once I forgot to set the eastbound signal just east of Union Station for No. 26 and this resulted in 26 stopping after just leaving Union Station, a delay of about one minute before we noticed and set the signal to proceed. Nothing ever came of this). There was a CTC style board in NC Cabin showing all the train movements. I don’t recall if the track east of Island Yard to Phoebe or the track from a mile or so west of Durham Junction to Forest was signaled but if it was, it was not operated from NC or anywhere else locally. And NC did not issue clearance cards or train orders to trains either through or local.

The transfer traffic between Kinney Yard (N&W), Montview  Yard (Southern) and Island Yard (N&W), Lower Basin Yard (C&O) and Southern freight station yard was significant with several connecting movements daily. Southern ran two or three daily connections to and from the Southern freight house yard connection with C&O to/from Montview and N&W ran two or three connections each day, each way between Island Yard and Kinney. N&W also ran several connections daily between Island Yard and the Southern freight station yard.

I hope this provides some insight and that others can contribute.

   Ray Smoot

Sent from my iPad

On Jul 21, 2022, at 9:44 AM, NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at> wrote:

Excellencies, Cavaliers and Old Virginia Gentlemen -

It strikes me that I should remedy my deficient knowledge of the Lynchburg Old Line.

I was only down the west end of that line (Forest eastward) one time, and it was in the dead of the night and in complete, inky darkness, standing on a flat car and shoving slowly through the blindness of night for some miles.  There were no radios back then, so everything was by hand signal, and the battery in my lantern was about half shot.  And it was freezing cold, to boot.  What a terrible trap to put a new man in.  (By that time, the remaining stump of the Old Line was no longer operated as main track.)

Anyway, I would like to know how the Old Line was operated.  Was it ever signaled, or was it always operated under the Time Table/Train Order method of operation?  If it was signaled, was it simply APB automatic signal territory where either a Time Table schedule or a Train Order was still required as authority to run (like the Punkin' Vine,) or was Rule 261 (known to many as CTC or "Traffic Control") in effect?  If Traffic Control was in effect, from where was it operated?  And if the railroad was never signaled but remained under TT/TO operation, were trains  blocked between Phoebe, Lynchburg and Forest?

Time frame?  Any answer from the late 1940s up through about 1960 would satisfy me.

Thanks to anyone who can throw me a life preserver.

-- abram burnett
Our Turnips are Equipped with Walschaerts Valve Gear

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