Winchester and Western Railroad Map Shirt
Winchester and Western Railroad Map Shirt
- Printed on Front
- 100% Cotton
- Shirt Color - Charcoal Grey
The Baltimore and Ohio factored greatly in the W&W's construction and its local subsidiary, Winchester Lumber Company, owned various tracts of mountainous woodlands in Hardy, Hampshire, and Frederick Counties. It sought to build a 40-mile narrow gauge line from Winchester to Wardensville which would bisect the rich timber lands in the possession of the Winchester Lumber Company.
The Winchester Lumber Company sought the services of the Intermountain Construction Company to construct the line, which it then decided to make a standard-gauge instead of a narrow one. Intermountain started the grading of the railroad line from east and west of Chambersville, located west of Winchester in Frederick County. Because of the numerous supply and machinery shortages caused by World War I, Intermountain constructed the grade of the railroad using mule-powered scoops, sledgehammers, and hand-held drills. By August 1917, Intermountain had cleared a flat road for the rail track to Gainesboro and it began laying the rails and ties. On January 14, 1918 the first income producing train carrying 16,000 rail ties headed into Winchester.
From Gore, the W&W turned southward through Back Creek valley toward Rock Enon Springs and ultimately to Wardensville. On June 14, 1919, a "golden spike" ceremony was planned on the West Virginia/Virginia line near Capon Springs with only fifteen miles until completion. After politicians from both Hampshire and Frederick Counties delivered speeches, Hugh B. Cline, chairman of the Frederick County Board of Supervisors, and Judge F.B. Allen of the Hampshire County Court each hammered a spike. The "golden spike" celebration was then topped off with lunch at the Mountain House at Capon Springs Resort in Capon Springs.
On May 25, 1921, the Winchester and Western was finally completed to Wardensville. A celebration was held to honor the W&W's completion and former West Virginia Governor John J. Cornwell delivered a speech on the positive effect that the railroad would have on the future growth of the region's economy. John J. Cornwell's brother William B. Cornwell of Romney was the president of the Winchester and Western Railroad at the time and had previously been president of the Hampshire Southern Railroad in the South Branch Potomac River valley in the 1910s.
Throughout the 1920s beginning in May 1921, the Winchester and Western was primarily a bustling freight line with limited passenger service. The W&W's first passenger car (or railbus) was literally an automobile bus placed on rails. The railbus made two round trips daily between Winchester and Wardensville with 17 intermediate stops along the way. The most popular of these intermediate stops was at Capon Springs Station where passengers would arrive to dine or vacation at the Capon Springs Resort. Three automobile "railbuses" later made the two round trips between Winchester and Wardensville. Besides Wardensville and Capon Springs, major passenger and freight stations were constructed at Gainesboro and Gore. The W&W's own terminal was located at the Baltimore and Ohio Station at Kent and Piccadilly Streets in Winchester.
While freight traffic was the main business of the W&W, the residents of the Winchester area frequently chartered trains for pleasure trips to not only Capon Springs, but for scenic excursions and picnics at Capon Lake on the Cacapon River.
Later in the 1920s, the line was constructed further past Wardensville on three narrow-gauge spurs known as the Lost River Railroad. The use of these spurs and the mainline itself dwindled by the early 1930s as the Great Depression took its toll on the region's economy. Freight traffic to and from Wardensville declined and the line was trimmed back to Capon Springs Station in 1934 due to the exhaustion of the region's timber reserves. That same year, passenger service to Capon Springs ended, and the track was cut at Rock Enon Springs. The W&W further trimmed back its line during World War II in 1944 when it was cut at Gore. Because of Gore's active Unimin sand quarry, the Winchester and Western Railroad remains active between Gore and Winchester. Today, in the Winchester area, the Winchester and Western is affectionately referred to as the "Ol' Weak and Weary" because of its limited use.
In recent years, the Winchester and Western has seen a revival of sorts. In 1986, it purchased the Conrail (formerly Pennsylvania RR/Penn Central) "Winchester Secondary" line from Winchester to Williamsport, Maryland. In 1987, it purchased three shortlines in southern New Jersey. The company now has two divisions; the "Virginia Division," and the "New Jersey Division." Both serve Unimin interests, as well as other freight. Both have connections with the two eastern mainline railroads, CSX Transportation and the Norfolk Southern Railway. In September 2019 the business was purchased by OmniTRAX.