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Roanoke -- Harrisburg

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The route that was the N&W between Roanoke, Virginia, and Hagerstown, Maryland, and extending on to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania via the Pennsylvania Railroad, is today all part of the sprawling Norfolk Southern Railway. Different parts of this route have distinctly different characteristics and traffic, as we shall discover on this tour. So far, the tour is complete between Grottoes and Front Royal, Virginia, a distance of about 70 miles. A short segment thru Waynesboro is also included. This segment of the ex-N&W is fairly universally known as the "Valley Line".

If you have never taken a Frograil tour before, you are strongly encouraged to visit the Frograil Tour Guide page, which is loaded with good info for you. Following the advice on that page will save you time, effort, and quite probably, some grief.

Contents And Navigation

About This Tour

Other Tours



Supplemental And Back-Up Data

Site Listing

The Tour

About This Tour:

WHAT YOU WILL FIND HERE: From a particular starting point, each segment of this coverage will allow you to follow the instructions given, drive to a railfan site, then to the next, etc. etc. Traffic levels and patterns will be given, and the photographic/ lighting considerations for each site will usually be mentioned. You'll be told about area attractions, such as tourist and historic sites, as well as hotels and restaurants which are trackside or otherwise worthy of note. In short, you'll be able to plan an entire family or railfan-only outing or even a vacation from this guide, as it is completed in the months to come.

WHAT YOU WILL NOT FIND HERE: This is a railfan guide, not a photo collection. There are already many excellent and enjoyable railroad photo sites available, and one more really wouldn't add much value to the general railfan. Besides, photos take up a lot of memory, and your humble Webmaster has to pay for memory. You will also not find fancy graphics, as this is a tour guide, not an exhibition of graphics expertise. You'll be able to load these pages quickly and print them without waiting a week for each page to print. Also, you'll conserve toner in the process.


Major contributors to this effort include:

Tony Hill, Webmaster and content, unless otherwise noted. Any use of the first person singular pronoun refers to Tony, unless specifically otherwise indicated.

Henry Mikus, content and many suggestions, corrections, etc. His detailed descriptions of several locations provided the impetus to begin this tour.


This tour is the result of short trips by the Webmaster along the route described. Obviously, I'm no expert on the route, and realize that good photo places or other interesting spots and local attractions may have been left out. If you can provide information that would make this tour more complete and enjoyable, please contact me at, and let me know what you'd like me to add or correct.

Also, if you'd like to contribute tours of portions of other rail lines, we'll work together: You supply the data/info, and I'll do the HTML stuff and upload it. You'll get a chance to review the fruits of your efforts before the general public sees the finished product, so you can let me have your corrections, additions and changes.

Supplemental And Back-Up Data:

The Railroad -- Background. In years gone by, the primary connection the N&W had from the southeast to the northeast was from Roanoke to Hagerstown. At Hagerstown, connections with the Pennsylvania, Baltimore and Ohio, and Western Maryland allowed freight to be forwarded and received to and from virtually any northeastern point. The Roanoke - Front Royal section of the route today is a secondary main line, compared to the Manassas - Linwood ex-Southern Railway line. The merger of the N&W and Southern allowed for a Harrisburg - Front Royal - Manassas - Linwood routing with seems roundabout, but is much faster and more fluid than trying to route traffic to Atlanta via Roanoke. In this tour segment, we will describe the railroad's geographic characteristics and physical plant between Grottoes and Front Royal.

The Railroad -- Geography. If you fly from, say, Fredericksburg, VA, westward, you would see a series of ridges extending on a northeast-southwest bias. It looks like the effect resulting from placing your palm on a flat blanket, and then pushing your hand several inches: Ridges build up, and they are parallel. Indians, settlers, road and railroad builders, and anyone else wanting to get from point A to point B used the resulting valleys, and crossed the ridges only where no other alternative existed. God used the same logic in placing the rivers in the area. Today, parallel ridges separate the I-81 corridor from the US-340 corridor. A tour of the ex-N&W between Grottoes and Front Royal has US-340 and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River as constant companions. As you can imagine, the scenery along the entire route is gorgeous. Even if you don't see a single train, you'll not regret getting out and traversing this wonderful valley. Geologically, this is part of the Valley and Ridge Province of the Appalachian Mountains.

Do not, however, fall under the assumption that the valley is "level". Compared to the ridges and mountains on both sides it is, but compared to the ideal of a dead flat railroad, it's not. The builders largely followed the path of least resistance, but that meant that the railroad hugged the river in many places, so rather excessive curves are a problem for today's long, heavy trains. The builders made extensive use of trestles in many places, and those that provide good photo ops are mentioned as we proceed thru the tour.

The Railroad -- Traffic. As mentioned above, most traffic heading to Atlanta and the southeast will go via Front Royal - Manassas - Linwood. Don't expect to see intermodal trains on the line we're touring, but do expect 4-8 manifest trains per day, a local or two, and the occasional grain and coal train to provide additional traffic and variety. There is plenty of industry along the Valley Line, so the "local" is anything but a dinky little switcher and 3 cars. This is not a heavily traveled line, but it is in excellent condition, and trains are surprisingly fast.

Mapwork: Much of the tour is not easy if you have no detailed map for back country roads. I definitely recommend you get a DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer, study it before your trip, and copy pertinent pages for your field work. You can find information here about Railfan Maps that are available.

Photo considerations. For most of the sites included herein, I try to give you an idea of the availability of photo fields. These ratings are not to be considered indications of the photogenic aspects of a place; they are merely an indication of how much open, uncluttered room you have to take pix. I usually give all 4 compass points, such as: NE3, SE1, SW4, NW4. In this example, there is no photo access from the west, poor from the northeast, and excellent from the southeast. If it's 9AM, this is a good photo site, but if it's 5PM, you might want to use the tour photo ratings to suggest better locations. For areas with no crossing, east and west ratings (e.g., E2/W1) are used. This is mostly a northeast/southwest railroad, so you'll have opportunities to get shots pretty much all day in most locations. Do your studying in advance. Please note that contributions from fans other than your Webmaster may not have detailed photo quadrant ratings.

Also note that this tour is thru hilly, tree-covered country, so an SE1 here might barely be a SE2 in the coastal plain. All things are relative.

Abbreviations. Some phrases are used repeatedly in this tour, so I've developed some standard Frograil abbreviations:

AG. An at-grade crossing.

NAG. A not-at-grade crossing. Unless I mention otherwise, these are usually not worth the time and trouble to drive to them.

NARL. Not a railfan location. This is because of any number of reasons, such as lousy photo ops, dangerous, no shoulder on a NAG bridge, etc. As a general rule of thumb, it is wise to avoid NARL's.

NO. Not observed -- for some reason, I didn't get over to the location, and cannot comment on it.

Security. As you can imagine, this tour is mostly very rural. Unlike some tours which encompass fairly large urban areas, there is relatively little concern throughout the tour's length with personal security. You've kind of got to work hard to get bopped over the head. However, there is a major concern with personal security once "away from civilization." You do not want to scramble down a hillside to get to a remote location by yourself. If you fall and break an ankle, you could very well die out there. Also, some areas are quite remote, and the locals do not always welcome strangers. In all railfan outings, you are encouraged to have at least one male buddy with you.

WEBMASTER'S NOTE: I do not recommend, or even condone, walking along the tracks, as this means trespassing or exposing yourself to danger. You will have to be creative, in some instances, to avoid trespassing while getting to the detailed locations included herein, but you will either have to be creative or not visit those sites. At no point in this tour guide, or any other tour which is part of Frograil, is it recommended that you trespass or expose yourself to danger. If you are a fool and have a leg cut off (or worse), don't come crying to me: You have been warned. Trains are big, powerful, and often surprisingly quiet. Don't end up being a statistic.

Waynesboro -- Front Royal -- Railfan sites
Alphabetical Sequence Sequential Order:
South to North
Bentonville Waynesboro -- NS/CSX Crossing 142.7
Compton Waynesboro -- NS Yard East
Elkton -- Captain Yancey Road Waynesboro -- NS Yard West
Elkton -- N&W/CHW *** Break of 14.4 miles ***
Elkton -- Ore Wash Road Grottoes -- VA-256
Elkton -- Park Way Grottoes -- Cary Street 129.1
Elkton -- Spotswood Trail Port Republic
Elkton -- Stonehill Memorial Park Port Republic -- VA-955
Grottoes -- Cary Street Lynnwood
Grottoes -- VA-256 Rocky Bar
Island Ford Island Ford
Island Ford -- Coors Spur Area Island Ford -- Coors Water Plant
Island Ford -- Coors Water Plant Island Ford -- Coors Spur Area
Kimball -- Old Mine Lane Elkton -- Captain Yancey Road
Luray -- Longs Store Elkton -- Ore Wash Road
Luray -- Station Area Elkton -- N&W/CHW 112.5
Luray -- Wallace Avenue 87.0 Elkton -- Spotswood Trail
Lynnwood Elkton -- Stonehill Memorial Park
Overall Elkton -- Park Way
Port Republic Shenandoah -- Station Area
Port Republic -- VA-955 Shenandoah -- 1st Street South
Rileyville Shenandoah -- Central Avenue
Riverside -- Convenience Center Stanley -- Eldon - Owens Road
Rocky Bar Stanley -- Downtown 95.4
Shenandoah -- 1st Street South Stanley -- Middleburg Road
Shenandoah -- Central Avenue Luray -- Longs Store
Shenandoah -- Station Area Luray -- Station Area 88.6
Stanley -- Downtown Luray -- Wallace Avenue
Stanley -- Eldon - Owens Road Kimball -- Old Mine Lane
Stanley -- Middleburg Road Vaughn -- Summit 82.4
Vaughn -- Jeremy's Run Vista Vaughn -- Jeremy's Run Vista
Vaughn -- Summit Rileyville
Waynesboro -- NS/CSX Crossing Compton
Waynesboro -- NS Yard East Overall
Waynesboro -- NS Yard West Bentonville 72.9
Riverside -- Convenience Center

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The Tour

As mentioned in the Introduction, we'll temporarily begin our tour in Waynesboro, using I-64 just south of town as a convenient point of departure. There is plenty of life support all throughout the area, so you might want to make sure you've got gas, food and cold drinks, etc, before you leave Waynesboro.

Waynesboro -- NS/CSX Crossing Waynesboro is between Charlottesville and Staunton via I-64. To get to the crossing, exit I-64 at exit 96, Delphine Avenue, and go northeast into town. There are some active, important rail customers along the NS, ex-N&W Valley Line that will appear on your left. DuPont and WayneTex are off-limits to railfans, unfortunately. At the busy US-250/US-340 intersection, take a left, go one block, and then take a right onto North Commerce Street. You will have the N&W on your left hip all the way to the crossing, which is in the vicinity of 6th Street. You can sit on North Commerce Street just south of the CSX bridge and get great sun for afternoon shots of Buckingham Branch trains going over NS. The north side of the crossing has been cleared, and there is a nice gravel area off 6th Street for parking.

The Buckingham Branch (ex-CSX, exx-C&O) Charlottesville - Clifton Forge line used to be the C&O main line, but became a secondary main when the C&O completed it's much more level and direct James River Line. Today, maybe a half dozen empty coal hopper trains go west on the line, plus a local and the tri-weekly Amtrak Cardinals. The NS (ex-N&W) line sees more traffic of a much greater variety.

This data is from Henry Mikus.

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Waynesboro -- NS Yard East. Continue north, and the small ex-N&W yard is between 4th Street and 2nd Street. Good views to the west are available from North Commerce. 4th Street crosses the NS main on a rickety old iron bridge that at various times has been closed for repairs or just open one way (and the direction seems to vary). Looking north from this bridge gives you a decent overhead view of the yard, to the south is a nice clear view of the CSX bridge.

Continuing north, North Commerce will end at the base of the 2nd Street bridge over the NS tracks; there is a cul-de-sac area here. This spot gives good views of that end of the yard, the main line, and the south end of one of two passing sidings NS has in Waynesboro.

This is probably a good point to mention the sidings in the area. "Waynesboro" extends about one mile north of 2nd Street (it's right around 5,000'), and "DuPont" is south, in the area of the chemical plants. The DuPont siding is likewise right around 5,000'. Since both are short by today's standards, Waynesboro seems to function mainly as a north end yard lead, and DuPont as a switching track for the plants. However, the sidings still are active passive sidings, so if a train that will fit needs to hit the hole, it will.

This data is from Henry Mikus.

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Waynesboro -- NS Yard West. Go back down to 4th Street, take a left and go one block to Delphine Avenue/US-340, and take another left to go north. In 2 blocks, take yet another left onto 2nd Street, go over the tracks, and then take a 4th straight left to go south on North Bayard Avenue. Then, take a record-breaking 5th straight left onto 3rd Street, which deadends at the "house track" on the yard's west side. You have just gone thru 4550° of left turns to deposit you one block south and one block west of where you started out!

The chemical plants south of town and some distribution facilities in the Stuart's Draft area require rather constant attention, as does interchange with CSX, so an NS local operates out of this area. Because of long reverse moves, a caboose is often employed, and you'll usually find it here, with the local's power, when the train is not out working. Interchange with CSX is mostly covered hoppers and tanks for the chemical plants to the south and north of town, plus a healthy amount of coal for DuPont's power plant.

Another interesting thing to see in the yard and on the road north of here are the suddenly ubiquitous Maryland Midland hoppers. There is a second DuPont plant just north of town, plus another major customer, and one or the other of them gets quite a volume of MMID 100-ton covered hopper loads routed from CSX interchange in Hagerstown, down the Valley Line, and then returning as MT's. These cars are carrying cement, but I can't give you any more information than that about them.

This data is from Henry Mikus.

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[Webmaster's note: Between Waynesboro and Grottoes, the tour is not complete. This is a distance of about 13.4 miles. You can drive directly from the vicinity of the NS yard, via US-340/East Side Highway in Waynesboro, to the VA-256 location in Grottoes.

Grottoes -- VA-256. As you approach Grottoes, look for a left turn onto VA-256. Note that both MapQuest and Yahoo show no direct connection, but it exists on the ground. Take the left, cross the tracks, and park in the parking lot by the utility blockhouse. Photos are very poor here, at NE4, SE4, SW4, NW3, but it is our first location, and if you've got a train about to be in your lap, this spot will get you trackside. Note that from here north, there are few good photo locations, all the way to the south outskirts of Elkton, where we'll encounter some excellent ones. The problem isn't that the crossings are narrow or otherwise constrained, there's just a lot of clutter and stuff next to the tracks. There are, however, plenty of good places to watch trains -- it's just photos that will be tough.

Grottoes -- Cary Street. From the utility parking lot, go north on Aspen Street to Cary Street, and park off Aspen. Walk up to the crossing, and you'll find photo ratings as follows: NE4, SE2, NW4, NW2. The southeast view must be shot from north of the street, as there is private property adjoining the street on the southeast.

The tracks are northeast/southwest by about 15° here. As you can see, this is a good bit better location than that at VA-256. This location is at approximately MP 129.1.

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Port Republic. Go north over the tracks via Cary Street, and it will take you right back to US-340/East Side Highway. After a little more than a mile or so, look for a crossroads at Port Republic Road. Take a left on this busy street, cross the tracks, and take an immediate right onto Tiger Camp Road. Park and walk back to the crossing. Port Republic Road is very busy, so be careful. The photo ops are not good, except for afternoon southbounds: NE3, NW4, SW4, NW1. Shoot from Tiger Camp Road to get the good afternoon shot.

Port Republic -- VA-955. Continue on Tiger Camp, and it will almost immediately swing 90° to the northwest. It's a gravel road, so take it easy. It will T at Jackson's Way/VA-955. Across the latter is the Port Republic Landing, a boat put-in and fishing area. There is a port-a-potty there. You will see "Jackson's Way" on street signs on the ground, but not on any map that I've seen.

Take a right onto VA-955 (another gravel road), and it will take you to a crossing. You will think you're really out in the boonies as you drive along this lovely, bucolic road. You are, but there is a surprising amount of traffic using it as a shortcut to get from US-340 to Port Republic Road (and a bridge over the river), as well as from folks using the landing and fishing area behind you.

At the crossing itself, the photo ops are lousy, as there is brush everywhere -- not tall trees, just scrubby brush that ruins photos. However, from 100' or more both east and west of the tracks, there are excellent panorama shots available. This is The Great Train Photograph, not a roster shot, and patience in necessary, but the potential is great. Note that if there is a corn crop during the time you're there, you won't get a shot, as the farm fields are dead level, and corn will be too tall to shoot over. Standing in the back of a pickup or on top of a van would probably solve that problem. Regardless, the best time of year for these panoramic shots is obviously during the winter.

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Lynnwood. Continue ahead on VA-955/Jackson's Way, and it will T at US-340/East Side Highway. Take a left onto US-340, and the next intersection up US-340 will be Lynnwood Road on the left, and Ore Bank Road on the right. Take the left to head to the crossing. Park near the crossing. There are two tracks here, and you'll see signals in the distance to both northeast and southwest.

The signals to the northeast are for the beginning of the passing siding that is the second track at Lynnwood Road. To the southwest, in the distance, you can see the signals for the end of the siding. The former is "Lewis Run" at MP 124.4, and the latter is "Lynnwood" at MP 125.5. Out of sight to the north is a defect detector "Island Ford" at MP 119.8, which you'll probably hear OK on your scanner.

Photo ops are so-so at best: NE4, SE3, SW3, NW2, but remember that the tracks and road are biased, so take the directions with a grain of salt.

Rocky Bar. Beyond Lynnwood, the railroad goes off towards the river and follows it around a major bend. Go back to US-340, take a left and drive over some small hills (rather than around them, as does the railroad). Eventually, you'll see the railroad coming in from your left, and then it will be right next to you all the way into the outskirts of Elkton. On maps, you'll see the beginning of Captain Yancey Road as well as another, un-named one a little further north. Both of these have been cut, and are now private crossings.

After the railroad comes in from the left, and all the way to VA-649, there are a few very open areas between the highway and the railroad. You can shoot from the highway and get excellent pix from early morning until mid-afternoon. On the west, there are a few private crossings over driveways, and these are prominently signed as private crossings. If a train is coming, you can walk a short distance down such a driveway and take your pix, and then get back out to the highway.

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Island Ford. Further north, when you get to the Island Ford community, take a left onto VA-649. Go over the crossing and park. This public road offers non-private viewing from the west, and the photo ops are: NE2, SE1, SW1, NW4. The tracks are still at a 45° northeast/southwest bias.

Island Ford -- Coors Water Plant. The next location is not on any map I've found, but it is absolutely superb. As you head further north on US-340, look for a road to the left leading into what appears to be a water treatment facility. It is part of the Coors Beer bottling complex, and as you can imagine, the facility is immaculate. The gated entrance is about 100 yards from US-340, and you want to be well away from it, as it is posted private property. However, I doubt that you'd be bothered if you waited east of the tracks at US-340, and then walked over the crossing to take your pix, and then went back to your car. Don't park west of the crossing.

Photo ratings for all four quads are solid 1's, and there are absolutely no obstructions.

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Elkton -- Coors Spur Area. This area is a little complicated, and the rewards are not particularly large. However, you can see some interesting action if you're lucky. North of the water plant, watch for the Coors bottling facility on your right. You'll see lots of cars in what is obviously a good-sized yard. The spur leading from the main line, across US-340, and into the yard, is just ahead, but don't try to park there. Go ahead for just a short while, and watch for a good gravel road to your right. There is a small Cargill Turkey Products sign. Park at the northeast corner of the lane.

If you cross the highway, you can walk a short ways down from the private crossing of the main line. Take your shot and then get back onto public property. Walk back to the vicinity of the spur crossing. There's a power pole line along the main on the east side, unfortunately. You can shoot on the west side of the highway, back over the highway and along the spur to the southeast. You cannot, of course, enter Coors' property. US-340 is very busy and noisy here, so be alert. There is a much, much better location just ahead.

Elkton -- Captain Yancey Road. If you remember Captain Yancey Road back at Rocky Bar (which was cut many years ago), you might be surprised to see that same road come up on your left. North of the Coors spur via US-340, the Coors complex is left behind, and the Merck & Company complex begins. Captain Yancey is not cut here, obviously, but it is private, and leads to some sort of administrative campus of the Merck complex. Like the Coors water plant some miles south, this area is immaculately maintained, and there are no obstructions on any of the photo quads. Strong 1's all around the compass.

Park somewhere off US-340, and if a train that you need to shoot from the west is coming, walk across the crossing via Captain Yancey, take your pix, and then go back to your car.

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Elkton -- Ore Wash Road. As you continue north into Elkton, look for a vestigial road on the left. Ore Wash Road used to go over the tracks and then turned 90° to the north, but it has been cut. There is nothing in the area where the road ends, other than a fenced in utility area. Park and walk up to the track. On the other side is a Merck company picnic pavilion. The river is immediately behind the Merck area. It's a lovely piece of the world, but it's private property, which yields the following photo ops, assuming the crossing were still in place: NE3, NE4, SW4, NW4. As you can see, it's a poor photo location, but it is very quiet.

Elkton -- NS/CHW. We'll now enter Elkton proper, via US-340. A couple of blocks south of the big underpass of US-33, take a left onto West Washington Avenue. At 6th Street take a right, and go north to a left onto West Marshall Street. Elkton is fairly small, with 2,000 folks, so it's pretty easy to find your way around, which I point out because there are several conflicts between my notes and the maps of this area. Marshall will cross the Valley Line and T into South 5th Street. North and west of this intersection you'll see what look to be spur or storage tracks coming in from the southwest. This is the location of the termination of the NS branch from Harrisonburg (ex-CHW). The branch crosses the South Fork of the Shenandoah River to enter Elkton from the west, and swings up to join the Valley Line close to the middle of town. Interchange work is conducted north of downtown. There is good viewing of the branch and Valley Line all thru here: E1/W1.

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Elkton -- Spotswood Trail. Take 5th Street north, crossing under the US-33 overpass. Take a right onto US-33Business/Spotswood Trail. Cross the tracks, and take the first left into the large municipal parking lot. This lot provides excellent viewing, as does the southwest quadrant of the Spotswood Trail crossing. Be advised that the parking lot is often quite full, and you'll want to be unobtrusive, because a "nut case running around taking train pictures" might look strange to a non-railfan. NE1, SE3, SW1, NW3. This is a very good weekend location -- set up your lawn chairs and coolers, but be advised that there is a pole line in the area, so some broad views won't be clean.

Elkton -- Stonehill Memorial Park. Depart the parking lot to the north, which is North Terrace Avenue. This road will slope sharply up and out of the valley occupied by the railroad and river. It will also curve steadily to the right. Look for a park far below you on the left, and a sign for East Stonehill Memorial Park. Drive down the hill into the park and get off to the west side of the park. The tracks are outside the fence, and are pretty much due north/south. I think the photo ratings are E2/W4, but I didn't do much exploring. There is a gate in the fence, which was open when I was there, but may not normally be open.

While photo ops are not maximum, this is an excellent place to bring the kids. They can run off steam while you sit and relax. This is a nice municipal park.

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Elkton -- Park Way. Go back up the hill to Terrace, take a left, and drive out to a T at US-340/East Side Highway. Take a left to go further north. Pass up both North Shenandoah Avenue and VA-884/Homestead Road, as they are NARL's, even though they are at grade. You will reach an intersection with Frog Pond Road [Hoo Ray from NC's Frog Ponders to Virginia's!] on the right and Park Way to the left. Take Park Way west to the tracks, and a fairly odd crossing.

The crossing is no great shakes at NE4, SE2, SW2, NW3, but will give plenty of access if you know you need to get trackside rapidly. The major drawback here is that there are lineside and heavy power poles just about everywhere.

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Shenandoah -- Station Area. Go back to US-340 to continue north. As you approach Shenandoah, there is a street labeled Trackside Drive in MapQuest, and it does exist on the ground, but it is a private driveway only.

At Shenandoah, a crew change point and yard provide some limited off-railroad, railfan opportunities. The South Fork of the Shenandoah River ascribes a sort of lazy S-curve in the area, and the town itself and the railroad yard pretty much adhere to that set of curves. Therefore, lighting will vary, depending how far north or south of the center of the yard you might be.

From the junction of US-340 and VA-602 in the middle of this town of less than 2,000 souls, go west toward the river. The only road crossing the tracks in town is VA-602, but it does so in two small tunnel boxes, and is certainly not the site of a railfan location. Actually, the "yard" is more correctly described as a north and south yard, with the VA-602 underpasses and the station (just north of the underpass) being at the short stretch of track that joins them. There is a boat put-in just west of the tracks accessible from VA-602. The yard office/station is east of the tracks, and is worth a few photos -- it's fairly old, and also offers one of the few open views of the tracks. You can drive to the station and sit for a few minutes -- maybe long enough to eat a sandwich -- and see the action, but don't stay for longer than a short time. You are on railroad property, and are not going to be bothering them while you eat your sandwich, but if you show signs of staying, you'll draw unwanted interest to yourself.

Incidentally, a scanner will help greatly in the area, because the countryside will easily hide trains from view, depending on where you might be at any given moment. All trains must call signals, and any northbound leaving Shenandoah must call the dispatcher for permission to leave, with the usual response being: "OK to leave on signal indication at Junior Avenue."

The view from the east at the station is good, but I do not recommend taking pix from the station parking lot. Also, be advised that the VA-602 underpass is all of 11' 2", so be careful.

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Shenandoah -- 1st Street South. This is a little out of driving sequence, but I wanted to take you to the station first. Remember that it was mentioned that the "yard" is really a north and south yard, and the station is between them? Well, here's how to get to the north end of the south yard area. Leave the station parking lot and go south on 1st Street. Cross VA-602 (be careful -- it's difficult to see what's coming from the underpass), and continue south on what is now 1st Street South. Within a block, you'll see an open parking area for railroad equipment and personnel, but that is off limits. Instead, park away from the area and stand on the small bank above the street. You'll get pretty good viewing, but if you're going to be there for more than a few minutes, you should probably try to find the property owner and ask for permission to stand on the bank.

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Shenandoah -- Central Avenue. Retrace your steps north across VA-602 and past the station on 1st Street North until you come to Railroad Street, where you must make a right. In this area is a very large, extremely nice looking playground, with every cool thing to climb in, on, and out of imaginable. This is a great place to let the kids run off a few billion calories.

Railroad Street will take you up to 2nd Street, and a left for several blocks to another left onto Central Avenue. [By the way, numbered and lettered streets in Shenandoah can be, to put it mildly, very confusing. Do your homework before you get to town and you'll be OK.] Central Avenue kind of peters out at a vestigial remnant of 1st Street north. Take a right and park, and there is plenty of open area, with photo ratings of E2/W4.

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Stanley -- Eldon-Owens Road. We'll now drive a considerable distance before the next location, and I'll detail most of what's in between Shenandoah and Stanley. If you're in a hurry, you will probably want to just drive on to Stanley at this point. For those continuing the tour, go back east on Central for one block and turn left. The next intersection is Junior Avenue, and you'll take another left and go under the tracks via a large, high underpass (NAG/NARL). Junior will swing 90° and head due north and eventually turn into Shenandoah River Road outside Shenandoah. Further north, US-340 will go over the railroad at a NAG/NARL, and Shenandoah River Road will also go under the highway. You'll come to Ridge View Road (NAG/NARL), and should ignore it and bear to the left as Shenandoah River Road meets US-340. Take a right to continue north. This is not an interstate, but it's a fast 2-lane road that carries a lot of traffic, so be alert.

You'll shortly come to Yaegers Lane, which is a private drive, and is clearly marked as such. Way overhead just to the east is a big trestle. It looks as if good photos are possible from the east and southwest, but you must get permission before trying to do so. At this point, the river, highway and rails are squeezed closely together, but will shortly be getting quite separated. As soon as you pass Yaegers Lane, the river veers due west, the road goes due north, and the railroad heads cross country to the northeast. This is an inaccessible portion of this segment's tour. Just before crossing the river, which has made a big curve to the west and is now heading due east, take a right onto VA-650/Grove Hill River Road. The name of the road is less important than the number, because you can be missing a street name sign, but you'll almost always have the number signs available.

Before heading cross country via VA-650, there are some cautions that are important. While VA-650 is fine, the small roads and tracks heading off it enter some extremely remote, "private" areas. Between US-340 at Grove Hill and the town of Stanley, you should stay on VA-650 and (later on) VA-638. You should be aware that many folks back off the main roads do not trust strangers and do not want them anywhere on their property. It is a fact that moonshine production and cock fighting are not unknown in the area, and it should be obvious why you should be quite circumspect in your approach to this part of the tour. All that said, stay on the indicated roads and you'll be able to continue on smoothly.

VA-650 hugs the river as it makes a large U-turn to head north once again, and the railroad will come in on your right. It is inaccessible, however, due to trees, creeks, hills, etc. VA-603 was NO, but VA-602 was NAG/NARL. As the railroad heads north, it continues on for a short while, and heads off again to the northeast as VA-650 keeps northerly. In fact, it will be quite a while before we encounter it again. This is the most inaccessible area of the tour, as far as railfanning is concerned. VA-650 will enter the area of Honeyville, and you need to bear right onto VA-638, which in most places is signed as Honeyville Road. Even more than VA-650, VA-638 wanders and turns all over the place -- just keep looking for the number signs, and also like VA-650, it's the major road in its area, and if you just go with what looks like the main road, you'll be OK.

Just east of Honeyville is VA-610 heading south to a crossing, but it was several miles out of the way and was NO. Likewise, near Stanley is VA-612 heading south to a crossing, but it was in an area off the beaten path, and was also NO. As you get into Stanley, VA-650 will head somewhat northwest, and Eldon-Yates Road will go almost 90° south. Take the latter right and just after the tracks park anywhere available, but don't block any part of the industry forming the southeast quadrant. Note that Donovan, Eldon-Yates and Eldon-Owens all come together here, and it's a little confusing name-wise, but that's not important. Actually, the only reason to be here is to get trackside fast if you know something is coming. NE4, SE4, SW2, NW3. There is a lot of traffic and noise, and this really is not a good location -- but it is trackside.

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Stanley -- Downtown. Continue south on what started out as Eldon-Yates Road, and bear 90° left as it becomes Donovan Drive. This will take you to VA-622, where you should turn left to go back over the tracks (NAG/NARL) and then take your first right back onto what is now called Honeyville Avenue. This will take you directly to US-340Business -- the main street of Stanley. Take a right, and in the center of the small town is a crossing that is pretty decent, at NE4, SE2 (to the northeast, but a 4 to the southwest), SW1, NW3. Note that the southwest quadrant is excellent to the south, but not much to the north. Do not park in the SE quadrant, and wherever you decide to take pix, make yourself known to the local business owner, if possible. There is a surprising amount of traffic in and out of the southeast quadrant, and the entire area is noisy, so be alert.

From this point all the way to Front Royal, you are never more than several miles west of the Appalachian Trail, and there are numerous camping, hiking, off road, hunting and fishing opportunities throughout the Shenandoah Valley. You could do far worse than spend a vacation here doing lots of things besides touring the railroad line and taking rail pix.

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Stanley -- Middleburg Road. Continue north (compass east) on US-340Business, cross the tracks, and you'll shortly come to a point where the road veers to the north, with VA-689 going straight ahead. You'll want to follow US-340Business, but before you do, DR's Quick Stop offers running water, gas, food, and other necessities. This is the last life support until Luray.

To get to Middleburg Road, the next location detailed, you can drive straight up US-340Business, but I propose a detour. Take a left onto VA-624 (no name noted), cross the tracks on a NAG/NARL, and take a right onto VA-632 (probably Goodrich Road at this point). VA-632 meanders about and finally meets VA-631/Middleburg Road. Take a right and drive to the crossing. The reason I suggest this rather roundabout drive is because it is one of exceptional beauty, and I highly recommend it. It's not a long drive, and I think you'll enjoy it.

The crossing is definitely an AM site, at NE4, SE1, SW4, NW2. Again, if you need to get trackside in a hurry, this will do fine. The next good location is a good way north yet, so this is a decent spot, and the AM shots can be excellent.

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Luray -- Longs Store Road. Get back on Middleburg headed east and drive the very short distance to US-340Business. Take a left and head north. Pass Alans Road (NO), and eventually take a left onto VA-637/Longs Store Road. If you pass Spring Cliff Road on your right, you've gone too far. This crossing is in the middle of a very long stretch of straight track that seems odd in this part of the country. Unfortunately, the crossing is fairly tight, at NE3, SE2, SW3, NW3. Again, a good place to get to quickly if you know something is coming.

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Luray -- Station Area. Go back to US-340Business, take a left, and continue north. Pass Mount Carmel Road (AG/NARL), Lakewood Road (a nasty 10' 9" underpass -- NAG/NARL), and South Court Street (NAG/NARL). Stay on US-340Business almost all the way to the intersection with US-211Business. (Note: South Hawksbill Street was NO) However, just before US-211Business, take a right on Cave Street, cross the railroad, and park anywhere.

This is the best railfan location between Elkton and Front Royal. You are at MP 88.6.

It's more difficult to describe this location than most others, because there is a lot of stuff kind of crammed together into a somewhat unintelligible mass. However, here are the basics. The railroad is on an almost perfect northeast-southwest bias, and Cave Street cuts it at 90°. So, when I give the photo ratings, the NE, for example, is really E, the SE is really S, etc. It really doesn't matter, because you can get excellent pictures here any time of day. Rather than give you my traditional quadrant ratings, I'll talk you around the entire crossing. On the east is a milling operation, and viewing is excellent in both directions from there. However, if the mill is operating, you'll have to get permission from the mill operators before trying to get pix from this property.

In the south is a new library, and there is plenty of room to set up lawn chairs, get out the coolers, and fire up the scanners, while you tell railfan lies. The grassy area behind the library has an historic building and a howitzer, and provides a comfy area to relax and wait for NS to provide some entertainment. On the west is the station, which is just beginning a restoration effort. There is excellent viewing in both directions at the respective ends of the station. Finally, on the north, there is little opportunity for photos, but that's fine, as there are ample photo ops from the other quadrants.

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Luray -- Wallace Avenue. From the crossing, continue east on Cave until just past the miller, and turn left onto Zerkel Street. This will take you up to US-211Business. Take a right on the latter, and begin to head out of town to the east. There is significant life support in the eastern part of town on US-211Business. Eventually, the road will meet the tracks on the left, and straighten out to go due east. From this point, maybe the length of a football field later, take a left onto Wallace Avenue and find a place to park.

Like several other spots, this is not a particularly good train watching location, but if you hear a horn, or if your scanner starts chattering away, this will at least give you a safe, off railroad property place to watch and photo the on-coming train. NE3, SE3, SW3, NW4. The biggest problem here is a nasty line of power poles on the south side of the tracks.

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Kimball -- Old Mine Lane. Continue east on US-211Business, which will end as it joins US-211. About 2/3 mile later, VA-611 will head north, and you want to take a left to follow it. Like VA-650 and VA-638 earlier on this tour, VA-611 meanders all over the place -- just stay on the road with the VA-611 markings. You'll pass some roads that offer crossings, but these are NAG/NARL's, so just keep heading north. Kimball Road was NO, but the map indicates that it may or may not cross the tracks, so I skipped it. Eventually, VA-611 will be called Elgin Drive, and will cross the tracks, immediately after which Old Mine Road goes back sharply to the northeast, crosses the tracks just before the beginning of a siding, and goes on to where ever the old mine was.

The distance to the south end of the siding switch from VA-611 is perhaps 200'. Photo ratings are a little complicated, but I'm going to go with NE4, SE3, SW3, NW2. Not particularly inspiring, but as the only spot in some north-south distance, this is a place to get to fast if your scanner suddenly wakes up.

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Vaughn -- Summit. Somewhere along the way, VA-611 becomes Vaughn Summit Road, and you do have to pay attention to the number markers at the various intersections. When VA-611/Vaughn Summit crosses the tracks at a railroad point named "Vaughn", you can look to the south and see the northern end of the siding begun back at Old Mine Lane. Photo ops are OK, at NE1, SE2, SW4, NW3, but the whole area is a little tight. You have to be pretty careful not to trespass, and that takes away from the enjoyment of the location. That said, in the right light, southbounds in the morning can yield dynamite pix here.

Vaughn interlocking is at MP 82.4.

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Vaughn -- Jeremy's Run Vista. As you probably know, I'm not an artsy type of photographer, but here is a location that makes me want to be an Ansell Adams or Richard Steinheimer clone. VA-611 will swing well to the east of the railroad, and then arc 90° to begin heading north once again. As it does so, it follows the lovely Jeremy's Run thru the woods and fields. You'll pass VA-661 on the left (NAG/NARL), and then come to VA-605 going off to the right, away from the tracks and VA-611. Park.

Walk east on VA-605 for about 1/4 mile and turn to the north. You'll be treated to a vista of fences, hayfields, and ridges on both sides. But at the northern end of the vista is a great honking trestle leaping over the Jeremy's Run and Moody Creek valleys. You're so far away, the railroad looks like Z-scale, but it is unimaginably cool. To see a 10,000 ton train go over that trestle so far away that you can barely hear the sound -- that's cool. If you've got a tripod and a powerful telephoto, you can do neat things over this vista. The fields and farms are gorgeous, the hills are heavy, and the train is the exclamation point of the entire scene. This is really nice.

As you drive north on VA-611 towards Rileyville, the trestle gets larger and larger, and the photo ops change, but folks who know how to take pictures can get some really nice stuff from all along here. This is Shenandoah Valley railroading at its most enjoyable.

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Rileyville. As you finally reach the end of VA-611, you can bear left to re-join US-340, or you can take a right onto Rileyville Road. The latter will take you to a nice crossing with the following photo ratings: NE3 (in the northern part of the quadrant) and NE2 (in the southern part of the quadrant, shooting from the bank of the playground in the city park on the hillside). Obviously, this is a good family railfan location. Continuing on: SE4, SW1, and NW4. A pretty good location all day, as long as your kids' legs hold out up in the park.

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Compton. From Rileyville north, the Shenandoah River does really weird, convoluted S-curves, and both the road and railroad ignore them. Continuing north on US-340 will take you from Rileyville to a NAG/NARL where the road crosses to the east of the railroad, and will, within a mile, cross the Dry Mine Run. This stream and its valley are crossed by a high trestle on the NS. There is excellent viewing from the southeast of the trestle to the west of US-340, but it's on private property. You can stand on the edge of the highway right-of-way and get so-so pix, but if you can find the landowner and get permission, you can get outstanding pix from the hayfield west of the highway.

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Overall. Continue north on US-340 past Lentz Lane (NO) and Alger Drive/VA-664 (NO) beyond the US-340 NAG/NARL crossing southwest of Overall. Get off the highway and go into the Overall community. You'll see the railroad sailing over on a long, high trestle. Scout around looking for a good photo vantage point. Perhaps standing under the power lines southeast of the tracks might give an excellent photo field. This is a challenging place for the point-and-click crowd, but there are definitely opportunities here.

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Bentonville. From Overall to Bentonville to Karo (southwest of Front Royal), the railroad is decidedly northeast-southwest. Via US-340, you'll pass a few NARL fingerlings of roads, but won't hit a real crossing until the area of Bentonville. Go east on the Bentonville - Browntown Road to the crossing and park. There is double track here, and the line is biased as stated above, so keep that in mind as you view the photo ratings: NE4, SE2 (off Fullerton Lane), SW4, NW1. This may be somewhat less than inspiring, but that northwest quadrant is really good, and will give you some pleasure in the afternoons.

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Riverside -- Convenience Center. Continue north on US-340 past Payne Lane (AG/NARL) and Bordentown Lane (NO), Spangler Lane (NARL), and Buck Mountain (NARL) until the railroad goes across the highway on a NAG/NARL just south of Karo. You can get over to Karo via Chapman Farm Road, but the area is a complete NARL. Beyond Karo, the river once again starts its S-curve routine, but this time the railroad follows suit, and crossings cease for quite a ways north. MapQuest and DeLorme show virtually no crossings in the next 2 oxbows, so I drove on towards Front Royal.

At Riverside, the river, road and railroad all squeeze together, and south of the point identified as Riverside on both MapQuest and DeLorme, there is a convenience center (that's a trash and recycling center for all you urban types) on the west (compass north) side of US-340. There is a U-shaped fence surrounding the facility on three sides, but the side facing the railroad is not fenced (drum roll, please, Mr. Orchestra Leader). During the day, you are south of the tracks and can get absolutely perfect shots of passing trains from the south. There is no access to the north. You must introduce yourself to the attendant, and be willing to put up with some powerful smells, but you can get very, very nice photos here.

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Going further north into Front Royal, Rivermont Drive to the left is NAG/NARL. You can take a left at West Criser Road a little further north, and then another left at Luray Avenue, but that too is NAG/NARL. Really, between the convenience center and Riverton Junction, there is very little access to the tracks. The area of the junction is described by Henry Mikus as part of his Frograil B-Line tour. A more ex-N&W detailing thru the northern part of Front Royal will have to wait until I can get up there again, or someone else steps in and writes it up for us.

We temporarily end the tour here -- If anyone would like to provide segments north of Front Royal, south of Waynesboro, or between Waynesboro and Grottoes, I'd be delighted to work with you. Contact me at . Thanks in advance.