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West Virginia Short Line Railroads

Published: April 25, 2023

By: Adam Burns

Appalachian & Ohio Railroad

(reporting mark, AO): The A&O is currently owned by P&L Transportation, a CSX subsidiary. It operates on CSX-owned trackage between Grafton and Cowen, a former B&O line, that spans 158 miles.  

The road began service in 2005 and primarily handles coal traffic but also moves logs, lumber, and chemicals.  The A&O's primary interchanges are with CSX at Grafton as well as short line D&GV/WVC at Tygart Junction.

Beech Mountain Railroad

(reporting mark, BEEM): This tiny short line ebbs and flows from dormancy and active status as it serves a local coal mine near Alexander and Palace Valley.  

The system dates back to 1890 as a narrow-gauge logging tramway owned by the Alexander Lumber Company and then converted to a standard-gauge operation in 1892 known as the Alexander & Rich Mountain Railroad.    

In 1900 the railroad was purchased by the  Randolph Coal & Lumber Company and renamed as the Alexander & Rich Mountain Railway.  More changes came in 1906 when it was renamed as the Alexander & Eastern Railroad.  The system's laid down and abandoned trackage over the years, following demand of the region's lumber and coal industries.  

When another name change came in 1953 as the Beech Mountain Railroad it primarily operated about 8 miles running from Alexander to Star Bridge.  Today, it continues to operate this trackage sporadically using a single Alco S2 for power.

Belpre Industrial Parkersburg Railroad

(reporting mark, BIP): Launched in May, 2020 the BIP leases several former Baltimore & Ohio lines between Marietta, Ohio and Parkersburg, West Virginia through CSX. 

These include the 39-mile Marietta Subdivision, 5.29-mile Parkersburg Running Track (Belpre-Parkersburg), and finally the Parkersburg High Yard on Depot Street. 

The latter comprised the B&O's former St. Louis main line.  Its current traffic consists of Aggregates, Chemicals, Coal, Construction Materials, Fertilizers, Metals, Minerals, Petroleum Products, Plastics, Steel and Scrap.

Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad/West Virginia Central

(reporting marks, DGVR And WVCR): The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley operates the state-owned West Virginia Central, which provides freight service on the Western Maryland Railway's former trackage west and south of Elkins.

The railroad also operates excursion trains during much of the year.  The property was acquired on September 26, 1997 from CSX, which intended to abandon the route, and the trackage totals 132.13 miles.  Its interchange is at Tygart Junction with the Appalachian & Ohio.

Elk River Railroad

(reporting mark, ELKR) (Closed, March, 2022):  This railroad operated part of the B&O's former Charleston-Grafton line (Coal & Coke Branch); in later years it only stored cars at the old yard in Gassaway and carried out some car repair services.  

It began operations in 1989 to operate 62 miles of the line between Gilmer and Hartland (below Dundon) to handle coal business which disappeared in 1999.

Little Kanawha River Railroad

(reporting mark, LKRR):  This little short line began operations in 1989 when it took over a short 1-mile spur in Parkersburg from CSX, formerly owned by the B&O to serve local industries.  It remains in service today utilizing a single SW1200 switcher that was built as Illinois Terminal #779.

RJ Corman - West Virginia Line

(reporting mark, RJCV):  This RJ Corman operation began service during July of 2005 by reactivating a former C&O coal branch between Thurmond (where it interchanges there with CSX) and Mount Hope, 12 miles.  

A year later service was extended 4 miles to Pax and an additional interchange, with NS.  The short line serves Georgia Pacific, Austin Powder, Pioneer Fuel, and Tanner Industries.


South Branch Valley Railroad

(reporting mark, SBVR):  This short line operates the B&O's former Petersburg Branch running 51.9 miles between Petersburg and Green Spring where it connects with CSX.  

The railroad began in 1978 when the state purchased the line from Chessie System, sparing it from abandonment.  Its traffic is quite diversified ranging from agricultural products and animal feed to lumber and plastics.

Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway

(reporting mark, WE): See Ohio.

Winchester & Western Railroad

(reporting mark, WW): See Maryland.


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