masthead_preservation

Virginia Creeper Trail

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A destination for visitors from across the US and a cherished asset for local residents, the Virginia Creeper Trail is best known as a biking trail, but in reality, the VCT is a multi-use trail with opportunities to bike, walk, run, fish, horseback ride, people watch, cross country ski and geocache, along with chances to observe and learn about the native fauna and flora, as well as the fascinating historical and economic role the railroad played in southwest Virginia.

Virginia Creeper Trail

creeper_state The Virginia Creeper Trail is a 34.3 mile rail-to-recreation trail starting in Abingdon, Virginia, traveling eastward through Damascus, Va. and ending just past the famed Whitetop Station at the Virginia-North Carolina border. Operated as a branch of the Norfolk & Western Railway, the last steam engine was retired from the line in 1956 and replaced with diesel power. By 1974, the railroad had petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission to abandon the line due to low traffic and deteriorating right of way. Track removal began in 1977. The Creeper Trail as it exists today was completed in 1984 and is maintained by public-private partnerships between the U.S. Forest Service, towns of Abingdon and Damascus, and "Creeper Keeper" trail volunteers.

See also our complete Norfolk & Western Railway mainline collection

Norfolk & Western #433

Norfolk & Western #433

  • builder:ALCO Richmond
  • arrangement:2-8-0 Twelve-wheeler
  • class:Class M1, 1 of 75 from Alco
  • built:Jan 1907, Alco #40329
  • fuel:coal/water
  • notes:
  • 20 x 30" cylinders, 56" drivers
  • on static display, Abingdon VA
  • builder
    Click to see the locomotive display site plotted on a Google Maps page

    Creeper Trail

    map

    Virginia Creeper trail map / Roanoke Times / web

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    Virginia Creep elevation chart / web

    tag_pinAbingdon, Va

    Click to see the N&W depot and freight house area plotted on a Google Maps page

    tag_pinAbingdon wye

    Just east of Abingdon, the Norfolk & Western maintained a wye track arrangement for turning locomotives and equipment for proper orientation in and out of Bristol, Virginia. Tracks and roadbed surfaces are long gone, but the raised right-of-way can still be observed along the Creeper Trail.

    tag_pinAlvarado, Va

    A trail restroom facility has been constructed in Alvarado, Va in a style reminiscent of many of the smaller Norfolk & Western depots along the Creeper line and throughout the region.

    Click to see the Alvarado facility plotted on a Google Maps page

    tag_pinDamascus, Va

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    Located halfway between mile marker 0 in Abingdon and mile marker 34 near Whitetop Station, Damascus is not just centrally located, it was once the historical hub of activity that birthed a rail line that later became the Virginia Creeper Trail. Damascus is a picturesque town with locals so friendly that through-hikers on the Appalachian Trail gave Damascus the moniker "Friendliest Town on the Trail". Damascus is also known as "Trail Town, USA" and for good reason – it is traversed not only by the Creeper Trail and the AT, but also by the Trans-America National Bicycle Trail, the Iron Mountain Trail, the Daniel Boone Heritage Trail, the Crooked Road Musical Heritage Trail, and Virginia's Birding and Wildlife Trail to name a few.

    Virginia Creeper Trail

    Click to see this location plotted on a Google Maps page

    tag_pinGreen Cove, Va

    The Virginia Carolina Railroad built Green Cove depot around 1914. It functioned as more than a railroad station, serving the community as a post office, general store, and telegraph office for the surrounding area. The station is memorialized in railroad photographer O. Winston Link’s “Maud Bows to the Virginia Creeper,” which he photographed in 1956 during the heyday of Norfolk & Western branchline steam on the route. The building remains and is now owned by the National Park Service.

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    The Green Cove Station is the only original remaining depot building along the Virginia Creeper Trail. Privately owned, the depot served as post office, general store, and freight office. The owner, William Buchanan and his wife Mary, worked the depot assisted by their daughters. The station was the center point for the community communication and storytelling. Today, the US Forest Service operates the depot on a limited basis during the warmer seasons and still serves as a rest location with soft drinks, snacks and souvenirs for bikers and hikers. The Buchanan home is located to the right of the depot and is operated as a bed & breakfast by the granddaughter of William Buchanan.

    Virginia Creeper Trail Guide

    Click to see the Green Cove depot plotted on a Google Maps page

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    Links / Sources

    This page was updated on 2017-08-19