It should be noted that the Potomac Eagle Scenic operates over a line
owned and maintained by the State of West Virginia, which also hosts
freight service, known as the South Branch Valley Railroad. The little
South Branch Valley Railroad (SBVR) is a shortline operating on a former
B&O branch line in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia and is
headquartered in Petersburg. The SBVR was started in the late 1970s
when the Chessie System (predecessor to today’s CSX Transportation) was
interested in selling off the line. Realizing the potential the branch
still carried in terms of business as well as its economic impact on the
region, West Virginia stepped in and purchased it.
Once West Virginia purchased purchased the former B&O route it spent roughly $5 million on the line during its first ten years of service upgrading the route,
which had been mostly neglected and given up for dead by Chessie
System. Soon after doing so the state named the South Branch Valley
Railroad as operator of the line making it the first, and one of the
most profitable, operations ever attempted by a public entity. Today,
when riding the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad, although you may not know
it, the line now features nearly 26 miles of seamless, welded rail,
which allows for a much smoother and gentler ride. For power the Potomac Eagle typically employs four EMD
locomotives (all of which also occasionally pull double-duty hauling
freight trains when excursions aren't operating making for the quite the
photogenic for rail historians and train enthusiasts as B&O,
C&O, and Chessie System-painted locomotives lead the way). They include:
· Baltimore & Ohio GP9 #6604: Painted in original B&O passenger livery.
· Chessie System GP9 #6240: Painted in original Chessie System livery.
· Chesapeake & Ohio F3Au #8016: Painted in original C&O passenger livery although originally owned by the Clinchfield Railroad.
· Potomac Eagle F7A #722: Painted in Potomac Eagle Scenic colors and originally owned by the Bessemer & Lake Erie.
|Baltimore & Ohio GP9 #6604 and "C&O" F3Au #8016 have their picture taken during a night session in Petersburg on August 19, 2005. The Geep carries its actual number and livery during B&O days.|
If you're after a trip which offers spectacular scenery in a quiet, bucolic, location the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad is a must visit. For more information about the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad please click here to visit their website. I would strongly recommend checking out their website if you are seriously considering a visit to Romney, as it offers everything you need to know such as calendar dates, available ride options, pricing, and much more. For more information about excursion trains like the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad you might want to consider the book Tourist Trains Guidebook, which is put together by the editors of Kalmbach Publishing's Trains