The Virginia Air Line (VAL) connected the C&O’s Piedmont Sub to the Rivanna Sub of the James
River Line. The connection with the Piedmont Sub was at
Lindsay and the connection with the James River Line was
at Strathmore. The VAL was the brain child of George Stevens, president of the
C&O from 1900 to 1920 and was incorporated on April 10, 1906. Construction stated in
Lindsay in October, 1906 and was completed in October, 1908. The line was operated independently
from its completion until July 1, 1909, when the C&O took over operations. This arrangement
lasted until the VAL was purchased by the C&O in July of 1912. The C&O used the VAL to move
loads that were too high or too wide to pass through the tunnels of the Mountain Subdivision west of
Charlottesville. In addition, coal for Washington and northern Virginia came down the James River Line,
then up the VAL and on through Gordonsville and then to Washington over the Washington Subdivision.
In the 1950’s, a young girl named Ethel Mae Robinson lived along
the VAL tracks. She waved at the passing trains so consistently that the trainmen began to look for her as
they passed. She so brightened their days that they began buying her presents, a gesture that continued
into her teenage years. Mae Robinson DeLong recently emailed me with information about her family. Her father and
both of her grandfathers worked for the C&O, as did her husband (see the People of the Piedmont
page). The VAL was removed in the 1970’s. Below is a brief summary of the VAL’s history.
This photo shows where the VAL branched off from the Piedmont Sub. The mainline is to the right.
(Photo June, 2008 by Lindsay M. Harrington. Used with permission.)
April 10, 1906
The Virginia Air Line Railway was chartered by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Construction was completed. Operation began under VAL control.
July 2, 1909
The C&O began operating the VAL.
July 12, 1912
The VAL was sold to the C&O.
February 21, 1927
Passenger service reduced to one daily train in each direction.
June 1, 1932
Passenger service replaced by mixed train service.
June 23, 1954
Mixed train service ended.
The C&O announced that it would abandon the VAL.
October 26, 1971
Fluvanna Board of Supervisors begins a suit to keep the VAL open.
The ICC allows the abandonment to proceed.
August 1, 1973
Last round trip train from Lindsay to Strathmore.
Environmental Protection Agency placed a one-year delay on the abandonment.
January 30, 1975
ICC formally approves the abandonment plans.
November 3, 1975
The VAL was officially abandoned.
August 25, 1978
Track removal was completed.
This undated postcard image shows the Fork Union depot when the railroad
was still the Virginia Air Line. That suggests a date prior to 1912. (From the collection of Larry Z. Daily)
This map was prepared from a copy of a Side Track Record provided by Wendell McChord.
This map was prepared from C&O valuation drawings.
Please note that, due to a huge volume of spam coming in on my email account, I’ve had to change my email address.
The new address is firstname.lastname@example.org (but remove the nospam and the dot before piedmontsub.com).
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otherwise indicated, these materials are the property of Larry Z. Daily and may not
be used without prior written permission of Larry Z. Daily