Building the Virginian Railway
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Building the Virginian Railway began as a project to create an 80-mile (130 km)-long short line railroad to provide access for shipping of untapped bituminous coal reserves in southern West Virginia early in the 20th century. After facing a refusal of the big railroads (who had their own coal lands) to negotiate equitable rates to interchange and forward the coal for shipping, the owners and their investors expanded their scheme and built a U.S. Class I railroad which extended from some of the most rugged terrain of West Virginia over 400 miles (640 km) to reach port at Hampton Roads near Norfolk, Virginia.
Southern West Virginia natural resources
In the expansion westward of the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, transportation was largely via rivers, canals, and other waterways. European moving westward often bypassed settling in the mountainous and wooded regions of western Virginia (much of which became the newly formed State of West Virginia in 1863) to reach the valley of the Ohio River, and the fertile plains beyond. The Native Americans and early European settlers were aware of coal deposits throughout the area, and some had small personal mines. However, timber was the only natural resource which was practical to export as a product until the railroads emerged as a transportation mode beginning in the 1830s. The earliest railroad to build through the area which is now southern West Virginia was the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O), whose leader, Collis P. Huntington (1821–1900), was initially focused on creating a transcontinental route and only later developed coal opportunities and the great railroad shipping locations at Newport News, Virginia and on the Great Lakes. Building west from Covington, Virginia, the C&O largely followed a water-level route along the Greenbrier, New, and Kanawha Rivers, opening access to the New River Coalfield. To the south, following through and refining plans initially developed by William Mahone (1826–1895) and others, Frederick J. Kimball (1838–1903) is credited with developing the famous Pocahontas coalfields for the owners of the Norfolk and Western Railway (N&W) who also controlled large tracts of land in the area.
In an area of southern West Virginia not yet reached by either the C&O or the N&W, there was land owned by many others, including Peter Cooper (1791–1883) and Abram S. Hewitt (1822–1903) (or their estates and heirs), Henry Huttleston Rogers (1840–1909) and William Nelson Page (1854–1932). While the others were based in northern cities (Hewitt was a mayor of New York City, Rogers a vice president of Standard Oil headquartered in New York City), Page lived and worked nearby.
Locally known as "Colonel" Page, and trained as a civil engineer, William Nelson Page came to West Virginia in the early 1870s to help build the C&O, and made the mountain state his home. He lived in Ansted a tiny mountain hamlet in Fayette County on the old James River and Kanawha Turnpike (now known as the Midland Trail).
Col. Page was a protégé of Dr. David T. Ansted, the British geologist for whom the town of Ansted had been named in 1873. Dr. Ansted, a noted professor in England, owned land in the area, had studied the coal deposits, and had written several books. Page was involved many coal, timber, and railroad projects. He managed a number of coal and iron projects which were owned by northern U.S. and overseas investors. Among these, he was head of Gauley Mountain Coal Company, whose carpenters he had build a palatial white mansion on a hilltop in the center of town, where he lived with his wife Emma Gilham Page and their four children.
- See also featured article William Nelson Page
Deepwater Railway: West Virginia short-line
In 1896, in the western portion of Fayette County, Col. Page formed a small logging railroad, Loup Creek and Deepwater Railway which extended from an interchange point at Deepwater, West Virginia with the C&O. on the south bank of the navigable Kanawha River about four miles (6 km) up a steep grade into the mountainous terrain southward, following the winding Loup Creek to reach a sawmill at Robson. Col. Page, who had been involved with building the C&O and more recently in developing some of its coal branches, arranged for the larger railroad to operate his short line to the sawmill on the Loup Creek Estate under a verbal agreement which was to last until 1903.
In 1898, Col. Page renamed his logging railroad to become the Deepwater Railway, and developed a scheme to convert the railroad into a coal hauler and extend it into portion of the New River coalfield not yet reached by the nearby C&O, originally to somewhere near Glen Jean. He enlisted the support of millionaire industrialist Henry Huttleton Rogers in the plan.
In 1902, with Rogers' investment made quietly through the Loup Creek Estate and the Loup Creek Colliery, the Deepwater Railway charter was amended to provide for the short-line railroad to connect with the existing lines of the C&O along the Kanawha River at Deepwater and the N&W at Matoaka. After the extension provided by the 1902 amendment, the total distance involved, all within West Virginia, was about 80 miles (130 km). This longer version than the 1898 scheme would provide access to additional coal lands not only in the New River Field, but also along the upper Guyandotte River basin through Mullens and into area under development by the N&W.
By planning interchange points with the two large railroads, Page could anticipate competition and negotiation of fair rates with the only two big railroads nearby. However, as he developed the short-line Deepwater Railway and began attempting to negotiate with either of the larger railroads, he ran into an unexpected brick wall. Page had realized that each major railroad had considered the territory his company was developing to be potentially theirs for future growth, but when each was faced with his new traffic going instead to a competitor, he had thought negotiations would still be possible. However, he got nowhere with either of them.
There was a reason, and it presented a serious obstacle to the Deepwater Railway plans: collusion. It was only later revealed that at the time, both the C&O and the N&W were essentially under the common control of the even larger Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) and New York Central Railroad (NYC), whose leaders, Alexander Cassatt and William Vanderbilt respectively, had secretly entered into a "community of interests" pact. The C&O and the N&W had apparently agreed with each other to refuse to negotiate with Col. Page and his upstart Deepwater Railway. It wasn't just the rates that Page wanted to share, which could possibly have been negotiated. The bigger issue was the coal lands which both larger railroads, especially the N&W, had large investments in.
If Col. Page and his Deepwater Railway scheme had met with an unpleasant surprise, as it turned out, the big railroads were in for an even bigger one. Page didn't give up his scheme, as most surely must have been anticipated. Instead, he stubbornly continued building his short-line railroad through some of the most rugged terrain of the Mountain State, to the increasing puzzlement of the leaders of the big railroads. They were unaware that one of Page's investors (who were silent partners in the venture) was the powerful Rogers. Henry Rogers was an old hand at mineral and transportation development, and his projects and investments seldom failed. His tenacity, energy, and organizational skills had led him to become one of John D. Rockefeller's key men at the Standard Oil Trust. Always ready to do corporate battle, Rogers wasn't about to have the Deepwater investment foiled by the big railroads.
See also article Henry H. Rogers
When Page and Rogers realized the Deepwater Railway project would have no connection options with other railroads to ship its coal, they set about exploring alternatives. One of these was securing their own route out of the mountains of West Virginia, if necessary, all the way to the sea, if suitable connections could not be made in Virginia. By forcing Rogers' hand, the seeds for what would become the Virginian Railway had been planted by the C&O and N&W.
From the mountains to the sea
While they may not have recognized the collusion of the C&O and N&W, Page and Rogers did know that the larger railroads would surely attempt to block any effort to extend the Deepwater a great distance to reach any other major trunk lines, many of which such as the New York Central, Pennsylvania and Baltimore and Ohio Railroad were also under common control of sorts (although it is not known if Page and Rogers realized or even suspected this). However, to their advantage, the Deepwater Railway charter already granted by West Virginia came to a location within a fairly short distance of the Virginia state line.
Railroads in the United States often grew by combining smaller lines, and that is how the C&O and N&W each had grown between the 1830s and 1898 when the Deepwater Railway began its expansions. However, there appeared to be no extant Virginia short-lines available for the Deepwater interests to acquire to suit their needs. Therefore, on October 13, 1904, they had new intrastate railroad company, the Tidewater Railway chartered in Virginia to be used for the portion of their project to be in that state. The headquarters were in Staunton, where one of Henry Rogers' lawyers, Thomas D. Ransom, was based and Col. Page had relatives. In the new charter, no direct reference was made to a possible future connection with the Deepwater, nor was one precluded by limiting language.
In those days, railroad and real estate attorneys generally practiced in only one state, with land matters (such as right-of-way) generally handled in various local county courts. Apparently because the Deepwater Railway in West Virginia and Tidewater Railway in Virginia were each under the jurisdiction of their respective states, an association between the two little railroads was not identified initially by the various lawyers for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway and the Norfolk and Western Railway.
Planning and land acquisition for the Tidewater Railway were done largely in secret. In his book The Virginian Railway (Kalmbach, 1961), author H. Reid described some of the tactics used. Reid recalled that on a Sunday in February, 1905, a group of 35 surveyors from New York disguised themselves as fishermen and rode to the location aboard a N&W passenger train. While they stood in icy water apparently "fishing" with their transit poles, the surveyors mapped out a crossing of the New River at Glen Lyn, as well as the adjacent portion of the line through Narrows to point near Radford.
After leaving the valley of the New River, the new line was surveyed to cross the U.S. Eastern Continental Divide in a mile-long tunnel to be built near Merrimac, Virginia. After descending on the eastern side of the mountain, the new line for the Tidewater Railway essentially followed the valley of the Roanoke River past the cities of Salem and Roanoke and through the water gap formed by the Roanoke River in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As the terrain changed to the more gentle rolling hills of the Piedmont region, the plan was to run almost due east across Southside Virginia to Suffolk, within just a few miles of the goal: Hampton Roads, one of the world's largest harbors. There, ships could be loaded with coal destined for northeastern U.S. ports, or other countries overseas.
Agents for the Tidewater Railway quietly struck deals with the landowners and various communities all along the way. Many were small towns and villages that had been passed by when the big railroads were choosing routes and building 20–25 years earlier, and the new railroad was welcomed. At several key points, negotiations were especially sensitive. Roanoke was one such place, as the Norfolk & Western had virtually put Roanoke on the map only 20 years earlier when it had been only a tiny town known as Big Lick. However, in the spirit of free enterprise, the leaders of the City of Roanoke agreed to provide the needed right-of-way through the city along the north bank of the Roanoke River. This was only a short distance from N&W's general offices and principal shops.
A coup at Sewell's Point
One of the communities which helped make the new railroad possible was the City of Norfolk, Virginia. Access to Hampton Roads frontage and space to build a new coal pier was crucial to the whole scheme. There just wasn't enough suitable waterfront land available anywhere nearby, and none at all to which access could be assured without permission of the big railroads. Norfolk & Western's coal pier and huge storage yards were at Lambert's Point on the Elizabeth River near downtown Norfolk. Other big railroads, Seaboard Air Line, Atlantic Coast Line, and a Pennsylvania Railroad subsidiary, had established facilities nearby as well.
It was very important that none of the big railroads learn of the plans. Most of all, it was important that neither the C&O, with its coal pier located across the harbor at Newport News nor the N&W find out, or surely they would attempt to interfere with creation of a new coal pier.
Fortunately, about this same time, Norfolk's civic leaders were also working on a site for the upcoming Jamestown Exposition, to be held in 1907 to celebrate the tercentennial of the founding of Jamestown a few miles up the James River back in 1607 (300 years earlier). A solution to both the Tidewater Railway coal pier site and Jamestown Exposition problems was found at an unlikely location: isolated and somewhat desolate Sewell's Point in a rural area on the south bank of the Elizabeth River near the mouth of Hampton Roads.
To reach Sewell's Point from Suffolk, the Tidewater Railway was plotted to run about 15 miles (24 km) to the east, staying well south of the downtown Portsmouth and Norfolk harbor areas (and the other railroads). After reaching South Norfolk, the new railroad would begin a wide 180' counter-clockwise loop to the north. The new coal trains would actually heading due west when reaching Hampton Roads.
To enable the necessary routing, the City of Norfolk's civic leaders provided a 13-mile (21 km) long right-of-way around their city through rural Norfolk County. Page-Rogers' interests purchased 1000 feet (300 m) of the waterfront and 500 acres (200 ha) of adjoining land. There would be plenty of space for the new coal pier, storage yards, tracks, and support facilities at Sewell's Point. And, best of all, the land and route were each secured without alerting the big railroads.
Extending the Deepwater Railway to meet the Tidewater Railway
In West Virginia, the owners, surveyors, and builders of the Deepwater Railway ran into lots of conflicts with both the C&O and the N&W. There was a nasty dispute with C&O forces over a contested tunnel site near Jenny Gap which landed in court. The Raleigh County court ruled for the C&O, but the West Virginia Supreme Court reversed the ruling in favor of the Deepwater Railway. In another court case, Page had what may have been a near-miss with a perjury charge. Upon interrogation by N&W attorneys in a West Virginia legal confrontation over right-of-way, Col. Page representing the Deepwater Railway, identified the estate of the late Abram S. Hewitt, a former mayor of New York as one of his investors. Page never mentioned Rogers, who it is now known had been an associate of Hewitt and may have been acting through the Hewitt estate. The N&W attorneys were unsuccessful in learning more at that time, or during many other confrontations as they attempted to stop the progress of the Deepwater in West Virginia. Ultimately, both the C&O and the N&W lost the battle and the Deepwater routing was successfully secured east to the Virginia state line near Glen Lyn.
At the same time, over in Virginia, in 1905, with the land and route secured, construction got underway on the Tidewater Railway, which as it turned out, went nowhere near its headquarters in Staunton on the C&O. Instead, it started building an alignment which would match up amazingly well with the Deepwater Railway near Glen Lyn, and run almost parallel to the N & W all the way to Norfolk. By the time the larger railroads finally realized what was happening, and that Page was involved in both the Deepwater and Tidewater Railways, their new competitor could not be successfully blocked on the basis of right-of-way. The building of another major railroad from the mountains-to-the-sea seemed to have been set in motion. Completion, however, was still far from assured.
Page still willing to negotiate
As the construction continued throughout 1905, Col. Page continued to meet with each of the big railroads to attempt to negotiate rates for the Deepwater Railway's coal, offering to stop construction on the Tidewater Railway, and/or perhaps sell off his fledgling enterprise. The leaders of the C&O and N&W exchanged correspondence which has been preserved in company archives sharing their mutual concern about the "common enemy." To them, Page did not appear to be financially capable of the project and they were skeptical that the new Deepwater and Tidewater railroads could be financed and completed. After all, they reasoned, there had been no public offering of bonds or stock, which were the way such enterprises were customarily financed at the time. All across the United States, railroad projects had been started, and many had died for lack of funds. Perhaps, the Page enterprise would join such ranks.
Gambling on that premise, the two big railroads saw to it that the "negotiations" were always unproductive, and Col. Page always declined to indicate the source of his apparently "deep pockets." By this time, Page must surely have been enjoying his newfound power in dealing with the arrogant big railroads. In fact, management of the funding Rogers was providing was handled by Boston financier Godfrey M. Hyams, with whom he had also worked on the Anaconda Company, and many other natural resource projects.
Final attempts to block
Norfolk and Western clearly stood the most to lose by the Deepwater-Tidewater combination. Once rights-of-way had been granted, N&W President Lucius E. Johnson (who had succeeded Frederick J. Kimball) tried a different tactic to block (or at least slow construction and increase costs) on the Tidewater Railway. He filed papers with the newly formed Virginia State Corporation Commission, which had replaced the Virginia Board of Public Works in 1903 and regulated Virginia's railroads, to attempt to force costly overpasses at proposed at-grade crossings with the N&W in Roanoke and South Norfolk citing "great concern about the potential safety hazards" which would allegedly result.
The state authorities in Virginia ruled against N&W at both locations, and ordered it to accept interlocking (at grade) crossings with the new Tidewater Railway. The new railroad did accommodate the N&W with grade separations for crossings at Wabun, west of Salem and Kilby, just west of Suffolk. However, these caused no major construction delays, as N&W's Johnson had hoped, and, if anything, the construction of the new Tidewater Railway continued at an even faster pace.
Henry Rogers steps forward
The leaders of the big railroads heard many rumors regarding possible sources of the mysterious funding, and Henry Rogers' name had been mentioned, along with just about every other wealthy industrialist. The names of many companies, including Standard Oil, had also been discussed as well as those of other large companies. Rumors notwithstanding, there seems to be no credible evidence that the leaders of the N&W/C&O had any confirmation of the Rogers involvement until he and Page were ready for them to know.
There was a lot at stake, as the C&O and N&W through the secret "community of interests pact" were carefully controlling coal shipping rates. Such collusion was the very game that helped Rogers make his fortune at Standard Oil.
Finally, well into 1906, at the request of Rogers, famous industrialist turned philanthropist Andrew Carnegie brought President Lucius E. Johnson of the Norfolk & Western Railway to Rogers' office in the Standard Oil Building in New York. According to N&W's corporate records, the meeting lasted less than five minutes. Some tense and less-than-pleasant words were exchanged, and Rogers' backing had finally been confirmed.
Of course, the head of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway soon also received the news, as did the leaders of the Pennsylvania and New York Central railroads. There would be an old and experienced hand at rate-making as a new player in their game of shipping coal.
1907: Virginian Railway born
In early 1907, the name of the Tidewater Railway was changed by amendment to its articles of incorporation in Virginia to become "The Virginian Railway Company." The Deepwater Railway, a West Virginia corporation, was acquired by and merged into the Virginian Railway a month later. On April 15, 1907, by a unanimous vote of the board of directors, Col. William Nelson Page became the first president of the new Virginian Railway.
About the same time, a large stretch of the eastern portion had been completed and regular passenger service established. This proved to be right-on time for a civic need of the City of Norfolk, and the Hampton Roads region.
Jamestown Exposition: helping a neighbor
Sewell's Point had been selected by the Jamestown Exposition Company for the international exposition on a mile-long site fronting on Hampton Roads right next to the Tidewater Railway property. The choice of location was politically correct: it was almost an equal distance from the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport News and Hampton.
A big plus for the site selection for the Exposition organizers was favorable access by water. A naval review was to be a major feature of the Exposition. Of course, one downside to the location was that the rural and sparsely populated location was hard to reach by land. However, the new railroad was soon to be laying tracks nearby and could be relied upon to help transport the millions of attendees anticipated on land adjacent to the site where work had already begun on the new coal pier.
On April 26, 1907, US President Theodore Roosevelt opened the exposition. Mark Twain was another honored guest, arriving with his friend Henry Rogers on the latter's yacht Kanawha. At the exposition, Colonel Page, president of the new Virginian Railway next door, served as Chief of International Jury of Awards, Mines and Metallurgy. In addition to President Roosevelt, the VGN and the original Norfolk Southern Railway transported many of the 3 million persons who attended before the Exposition closed on December 1, 1907.
See Also article Jamestown Exposition
Financial panic of 1907, Rogers suffers a stroke
While secrecy was a key feature of the success in securing the route, historians feel it is likely that Rogers had planned to finance the new railroad with sale of bonds to the public once the route had been secured, the two roads combined, and the name changed. However, these plans had suffered some setbacks in the "Financial Panic" which began in March 1907. An initial offering of Virginian Railway bonds was poorly received by the financial community. Rogers was quite concerned about the situation, and then, a few months later that same year, he experienced a debilitating stroke. Work on the new railroad was at a virtual standstill throughout much of 1908. His published correspondence with his close friend Mark Twain alludes to the personal stress which resulted from the "great railroad enterprise."
Fortunately for the new railroad, Henry Rogers recovered his health, at least partially. Work progressed on the VGN using construction techniques not available when the larger railroads had been built about 25 years earlier. By paying for work with Henry Rogers' own personal fortune, the railway was built with no public debt. Construction, although slowed substantially during 1908, was continued on the new railroad until it was finally completed early in 1909.
Final spike, celebrations, tragedy
The final spike in the Virginian Railway was driven on January 29, 1909, at the west side of the massive New River Bridge at Glen Lyn, near where the new railroad crossed the East River and the West Virginia-Virginia state line. The former Deepwater and Tidewater Railways were now physically connected. It was also Henry Rogers' sixty-ninth birthday,
They were met at the shore by a huge crowd of Norfolk citizens waiting with great excitement despite rain that day. While Rogers toured the railway’s new $2.5 million coal pier at Sewell's Point, Mark Twain spoke to groups of students at several local schools. That night, April 3, the city put on a long-planned grand banquet at the Monticello Hotel in downtown Norfolk. The city's civic leaders, Mark Twain, and other dignitaries made speeches. Finally, Henry Rogers himself rose and addresses the well-wishers. He said in part:
- "It is a great honor, and I shall not deny a great pleasure, to be your guest on this occasion. I am not gifted with the art of oratory, and am forced to say my thanks in plain and homely words. Yet they are none the less heartfelt. I make no pretense that the building of the Virginian Railway was intended wholly as a public service, and it is a business enterprise. I have faith that the resources of this Old Dominion State, when properly developed, mean a great deal, not for you who live here alone, but for the whole country."
- "And I have simply sought to bear what share I could in the development of these resources. You gentlemen of Virginia and I have a common interest. I shall endeavor to deal fairly by you and I am sure you propose doing the same by me. Again I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the honor you have conferred upon me."
Rogers and his party boarded a special train, and left the next day on his first (and only) tour of the newly completed railroad. He was greeted at points all along the route, and there was at least one additional banquet held to honor him at Roanoke. A now-famous photograph was taken of him of the rear platform of his personal railcar, which was named "Dixie."
Despite the relief of completing the "mountains-to-the sea" railroad, both his physician and mentor John D. Rockefeller had expressed continuing concerns about Henry Rogers' health and urged him to slow down. He was known as a man who just couldn't seem to "take it easy," at least not for very long. The following month, in May 1909, he took a pleasant weekend getaway trip to his hometown of Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Afterward, he returned to New York City and his work. Three days later, on May 19, 1909, he awoke feeling very ill, and had numbness in his arm. By the time the doctor arrived in less than 30 minutes, he could not be saved. After his funeral in New York City, with Virginian Railway officials and his close friend Mark Twain serving as pallbearers, the old widowers' body was transported by train to Fairhaven, to be interred in Riverside Cemetery beside his childhood sweetheart, Abbie Gifford Rogers (1841–1894).
Last tour planned by Rogers
For the last 15 years of his life, Rogers had become close friends with Dr. Booker T. Washington, the famous African American educator. Dr. Washington had been an honored guest at Rogers' office and home in New York, his summer home in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and aboard his steam yacht Kanawha. Rogers had been secretly funding much of Dr. Washington's work. They had planned a speaking tour for Dr. Washington along the new railroad to take place just prior to opening of through passenger service scheduled for July 1, 1909. Although Rogers had died suddenly, Dr. Washington decided to go ahead with his wishes for the previously arranged speaking tour in June 1909 along the route of the new railroad.
On the tour, as had been planned, Dr. Washington rode in Rogers' personal rail car, "Dixie", making speeches at many locations over a 7-day period. There was more than a little symbolism in Dr. Washington riding as a VIP in the personal railcar of the late Henry Rogers, who was held high in the esteem of the local citizenry for the well-known fact that he had financed the new railroad through their communities from his personal fortune. At the many stops, Dr. Washington told his audiences that his recently departed friend had urged him to make the trip and see what could be done to improve relations between the races and economic conditions for African Americans along the route of the new railway, which touched many previously isolated communities in the southern portions of Virginia and West Virginia.
Some of the places where Dr. Washington spoke on the tour were (in order of the tour stops), Newport News, Norfolk, Suffolk, Lawrenceville, Kenbridge, Victoria, Charlotte Courthouse, Roanoke, Salem, and Christiansburg in Virginia, and Princeton, Mullens, Page and Deepwater in West Virginia. One of his trip companions reported that they had received a strong and favorable welcome from both white and African American citizens all along the tour route.
It was only after the multi-millionaire's death that Dr. Washington said he felt compelled to reveal publicly some of the extent of Henry Rogers' contributions for his causes. The funds, he said, were at that very time paying for the operation of at least 65 small country schools for the education and betterment of African Americans in Virginia and other portions of the South, all unknown to the recipients. Dr. Washington also disclosed that, known only to a few trustees, Henry Rogers had also generously provided support to institutions of higher education such as the schools which are now Hampton University and Tuskegee University.
Dr. Washington later wrote that Henry Rogers had encouraged projects with at least partial matching funds, as that way, two ends were accomplished:
- 1. The gifts would help fund even greater work.
- 2. Recipients would have a stake in knowing that they were helping themselves through their own hard work and sacrifice.
See Also article Dr. Booker T. Washington.
By the time Henry Rogers died, the work of the Page-Rogers partnership to build the Virginian Railway had been completed. It was a virtual "conveyor belt of steel" and as it turned out, the growing demand for coal was more than sufficient for coexistence of the Virginian Railway with the Chesapeake and Ohio and the Norfolk and Western for many years to come. Through what he had learned about the people of southern West Virginia and southside Virginia, while building the Virginian Railway to maximize the natural resource of coal, Rogers had also come to appreciate the potential for development of the area's human resources as well.
- William N. Page
- Henry H. Rogers
- Bituminous coal
- Robber Barons
- Norfolk and Western Railway
- Chesapeake and Ohio Railway
- Ansted, West Virginia
- Victoria, Virginia
- Sewell's Point
- Hampton Roads
- Jamestown Exposition
- Barger, Ralph L. (1983) Corporate History of Coal & Coke Railway Co., Charleston, Clendennin & Sutton R.R., Roaring Creek & Belington R.R. Co., as of Date of Valuation, June 30, 1918. Baltimore, MD: Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Historical Society.
- Cartlidge, Oscar (1936) Fifty Years of Coal Mining Charleston, WV: Rose City Press.
- Conley, Phil (1960) History of the Coal Industry of West Virginia Charleston, WV: Educational Foundation.
- Conley, Phil (1923) Life in a West Virginia Coal Field Charleston, WV: American Constitutional Association.
- Corbin, David Alan (1981) Life, Work and Rebellion in the Coal Fields: The Southern West Virginia Miners, 1880-1922 Chicago, Illinois: University of Illinois Press.
- Corbin, David Alan, editor (1990) The West Virginia Mine Wars: An Anthology Charleston, WV: Appalachian Editions.
- Craigo, Robert W., editor (1977) The New River Company: Mining Coal and Making History, 1906-1976 Mount Hope, WV: New River Company.
- Dix, Keith (1977) Work Relations in the Coal Industry: The Hand Loading Era, 1880-1930 Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Institute for Labor Studies.
- Dixon, Thomas W, Jr., (1994) Appalachian Coal Mines & Railroads. Lynchburg, Virginia: TLC Publishing Inc. ISBN 1-883089-08-5
- Frazier, Claude Albee (1992) Miners and Medicine: West Virginia Memories Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.
- Huddleston, Eugene L, Ph.D. (2002) Appalachian Conquest, Lynchburg, Virginia: TLC Publishing Inc. ISBN 1-883089-79-4
- Lambie, Joseph T. (1954) From Mine to Market: The History of Coal Transportation on the Norfolk and Western Railway New York: New York University Press
- Lane, Winthrop David (1921) Civil War in West Virginia: A Story of the Industrial Conflict in the Coal Mines New York, NY: B. W. Huebsch, Inc.
- Lewis, Lloyd D. (1992) The Virginian Era. Lynchburg, Virginia: TLC Publishing Inc.
- Lewis, Lloyd D. (1994) Norfolk & Western and Virginian Railways in Color by H. Reid. Lynchburg, Virginia: TLC Publishing Inc. ISBN 1-883089-09-3
- MacCorkle, William (1928) The Recollections of Fifty Years New York, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons
- Middleton, William D. (1974) When The Steam Railroads Electrified (1st ed.). Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing ISBN 0-89024-028-0
- Reid, H. (1961). The Virginian Railway (1st ed.). Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing Co.
- Reisweber, Kurt (1995) Virginian Rails 1953-1993 (1st ed.) Old Line Graphics. ISBN 1-879314-11-8
- Sullivan, Ken, editor (1991) The Goldenseal Book of the West Virginia Mine Wars: Articles Reprinted from Goldenseal Magazine, 1977-1991. Charleston: Pictorial Histories Pub. Co.
- Striplin, E. F. Pat. (1981) The Norfolk & Western : a history Roanoke, Virginia. : Norfolk and Western Railway Co. ISBN 0-9633254-6-9
- Tams, W. P. (1963) The Smokeless Coal Fields of West Virginia Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Library.
- Thoenen, Eugene D. (1964) History of the Oil and Gas Industry in West Virginia Charleston, WV:
- Traser, Donald R. (1998) Virginia Railway Depots. Old Dominion Chapter, National Railway Historical Society. ISBN 0-9669906-0-9
- various contributors (1968). Who Was Who in America Volume I (7th ed.). New Providence, New Jersey: Marquis Who’s Who
- Wiley, Aubrey and Wallace, Conley (1985). The Virginian Railway Handbook. Lynchburg, Virginia: W-W Publications.
Periodical, business, and on-line publications
- Beale, Frank D. (1955) The Virginian Railway Company 45th Annual Report Year Ended December 31, 1954. published in-house
- Cuthriell, N.L. (1956) Coal On The Move Via The Virginian Railway, reprinted with permission of Norfolk Southern Corporation in 1995 by Norfolk & Western Historical Society, Inc. ISBN 0-9633254-2-6
- Dept. of the Navy - (2004) Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships - article on steamship William N. Page. Washington DC: US Naval Historical Center
- Huddleston, Eugene L, Ph.D. (1992) National Railway Bulletin Vol. 57, Number 4, article: Virginian: Henry Huttleston Rogers' Questionable Achievement
- Reid, H. (1953) "Trains & Travel Magazine" December, 1953 "Some Fine Engines", Kalmbach Publishing Co.
- Skaggs, Geoffery - (1985) Page-Vawter House Project in Ansted Ansted, WV: Fayette County Government
- Special Collection William Nelson Page Papers, Library of the University of North Carolina
- US Dept. of the Navy, Naval Historical Center
- Millicent Library, Fairhaven MA, Henry Rogers homepage
- Mark Twain and Henry Huttleston Rogers in Virginia featuring excerpts from their trips together to the 1907 Jamestown Exposition and the 1909 Dedication of the Virginian Railway
- Mark Twain's Correspondence with Henry Huttleston Rogers, 1893-1909[permanent dead link]
- New River CVB Guide to Ansted, WV
- West Virginia Coal Mines site
- Norfolk & Western Historical Society covers Virginian history
- Virginia Museum of Transportation displays 2 of only 3 extant VGN steam and electric locomotives, located in Roanoke, VA
- Virginian Railway (VGN) Enthusiasts non-profit group of preservationists, authors, photographers, historians, modelers, and railfans
- listing of Virginian Railway authors and their works
- Mullens West Virginia Caboose Museum a community project with photos
- Victoria Virginia's new home for Virginian railway Caboose 342 a community project with photos
- Lynchburg Virginia's project to save the oldest extant Virginian Railway Caboose # 64 a community project with photos
- preserving the Virginian Railway Passenger Station at Roanoke Virginia a community project with photos (requires a pdf file viewer)
- Norfolk Southern Corp website
- link to site of Railfan.net forum for Virginian Railway which has Roanoke Times story and photos