Arlington, VA. The Arlington Historical Society (AHS) will host historian Ron Beavers for a fascinating talk about a little-used railroad – the Alexandria, Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad – that once ran through Arlington County but is today one of the Washington area’s most popular bike trails. Learn what caused this transformation – from an underachieving rail line to a major contributor to the Union war effort – and what became of this railroad after the Civil War. The presentation will be held at the society’s public program on Thursday, November 14, 2013.
Though now a beloved path for both commuters and recreationalists from Arlington to Loudoun County, the original plan for the AL&H was impressive. Entrepreneurial Virginians hopes to compete with the B&O Railroad for the rich coal fields of what is now West Virginia. But engineering difficulties and financial struggles impeded these plans, reducing the rail line to a local carrier for freight, mail and people just before the Civil War. When the war came, the western portion of this railroad suffered complete destruction. The eastern facilities (Alexandria and Arlington) fared much better. Their contribution to the Union war effort was crucial to success in the Eastern Theater of Military operations. Ownership returned to AL&H directors after the war, but their original plan to reach West Virginia never came to fruition. The rail line went through many reorganizations and mergers, yet continued to serve Arlington and Northern Virginia until the 1960s. Last known as the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad, it ultimately became a 44 mile-long park that we now call the W&OD hiker/biker trail.
Beavers last spoke before the Arlington Historical Society in March 2013 about Arlington County’s retrocession to Virginia in 1847. It was a very well-received and well-attended presentation, with more than 100 people present. Beavers is a seventh-generation Virginian and retired federal employee with a life-long interest in history and railroads. He is a re-enactor, living historian, and speaker at numerous Civil War Living History events, Civil War Round Tables, civic associations and historical societies. Beavers is also a volunteer at Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.
The hour-long program will begin at 7:00 p.m. at Arlington Central Library Auditorium (1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA). A question-and-answer session will follow. The program is free and open to the public. For more information about this program, please contact Garrett Peck at 571-243-1113 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional Central Library information, please contact 703-228-5990.
About AHS: The Arlington Historical Society, founded in 1956, is a non-profit organization under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The AHS mission is to help Arlingtonians better understand our community through its history. For more information, please visit www.arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org.