Great Falls and Old Dominion Railroad

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Diagram of Washington area trolley lines (enlargeable image showing Great Falls and Old Dominion Railroad in dark green)

The Great Falls and Old Dominion Railroad (GF&OD) was an interurban trolley line that ran in Northern Virginia during the early 20th century.

History[edit]

Chartered in 1900 by a group of local landowners and acquired in 1902 by John Roll McLean (owner of The Washington Post) and Senator Stephen Benton Elkins,[1] the 15-mile electrified railroad began operating from Georgetown in Washington, D.C. in 1906. The first scheduled car reached Great Falls Park in Fairfax County, Virginia on July 3 of that year.[2]

From Georgetown, the railroad crossed the Potomac River on a superstructure built on the upstream side of the old Aqueduct Bridge to Rosslyn in Arlington, where it made connections with an older electric trolley line, the Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railroad. From Rosslyn, the railroad traveled northwest along the north side of Lee Highway (now part of U.S. Route 29) to Cherrydale and then on its own right-of-way (now Old Dominion Drive, State Route 309) in Arlington and Fairfax Counties through forests, farmland and fruit orchards, bypassing the existing villages of Lewinsville and Langley. At Great Falls, the GF&OD constructed a trolley park, which became a popular destination.

The owners gave their own names to two stations located at the railroad's crossings of major roads: McLean Station at Chain Bridge Road (State Route 123)[3] and Elkins Station at Old Georgetown Pike (State Route 193). The station at Chain Bridge Road became a focus for development that evolved into the community of McLean, Virginia.

In 1911, McLean and Elkins incorporated the Washington & Old Dominion Railway (W&OD). In 1912, the Georgetown-Great Falls line became the Great Falls Division of the W&OD, sharing trackage with the W&OD's Bluemont Division between Rosslyn and Thrifton Junction. In 1935, Fairfax and Arlington counties obtained the right-of-way west of Thrifton Junction in settlement of delinquent taxes. Most of the right-of-way was converted into Old Dominion Drive.

Interstate 66, the Custis Trail, and Lee Highway were built on the former GF&OD roadbed between Rosslyn and Thrifton Junction.

Stations[edit]

The stations on the GF&OD and on the Great Falls Division of the W&OD (with locations of sites in 2008) were:

Station[4] Location Coordinates Jurisdiction Side of Tracks[5] Photo Notes
Georgetown[6] M Street, N.W., between 35th and 37th Streets, N.W. 38°54′19″N 77°04′13″W / 38.90519°N 77.070293°W / 38.90519; -77.070293 (Former location of Georgetown Terminal (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) District of Columbia West Terminal station of GF&OD and W&OD until 1923. Adjacent to Georgetown Car Barn, which served Washington's electric street cars.
Rosslyn Passenger Terminal: Fort Myer Drive (west side) between George Washington Memorial Parkway and Lee Highway 38°53′58″N 77°04′18″W / 38.89957°N 77.071785°W / 38.89957; -77.071785 (Former location of Rosslyn Passenger Terminal (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County West undated colorized postcard & 1923 interior photo of passenger terminal The GF&OD and W&OD stopped at a passenger shelter from 1904 to 1923. The W&OD terminated behind a passenger station on Fort Myer Drive from 1923 to 1938 and in the present route of I-66 from 1938 to 1968. All of the stations and termini were near the present site of the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel.
Historical Marker: Rosslyn Station[7]
Colonial[6] I-66 at N. Nash Street 38°53′55″N 77°04′25″W / 38.89866°N 77.07374°W / 38.89866; -77.07374 (Former location of Colonial Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County South
Rosslyn Freight House[6] I-66 near N. Oak Street 38°53′56″N 77°04′32″W / 38.8988403°N 77.0754433°W / 38.8988403; -77.0754433 (Former location of Colonial Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County North
Mackeys[6] I-66 at N. Quinn Street 38°53′52″N 77°04′44″W / 38.8978717°N 77.078914°W / 38.8978717; -77.078914 (Former location of Mackeys Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County Northwest
Park Lane[6] I-66 east of N. Uhle Street; north of Lee Highway 38°53′50″N 77°05′04″W / 38.89709°N 77.084509°W / 38.89709; -77.084509 (Former location of Park Lane Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County Southwest
Pearce[6] I-66 near N. Adams Street 38°53′54″N 77°05′22″W / 38.89823°N 77.089466°W / 38.89823; -77.089466 (Former location of Pearce Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County South
Clark[6] I-66 near N. Calvert Street 38°53′52″N 77°05′35″W / 38.89782°N 77.092985°W / 38.89782; -77.092985 (Former location of Clark Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County South Near east side of Spout Run.
Thrifton[6] I-66 between Lee Highway and Spout Run Parkway 38°53′47″N 77°05′54″W / 38.89646°N 77.098306°W / 38.89646; -77.098306 (Former location of Thrifton Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County South North of Lyon Village shopping center. Named for Hugh A. Thrift. East of junction with Thrifton – Bluemont Junction connecting line.
Dominion Heights[8] Lee Highway (between traffic lanes) at N. Monroe Street (east side) 38°53′46″N 77°06′15″W / 38.8960055°N 77.1040356°W / 38.8960055; -77.1040356 (Former location of Dominion Heights Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County South
Cherrydale[8] Intersection of Lee Highway and Old Dominion Drive at Military Road (east side) 38°53′49″N 77°06′30″W / 38.8969741°N 77.1083701°W / 38.8969741; -77.1083701 (Former location of Cherrydale Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County Southwest circa 1908
Harrison[8] Old Dominion Drive at N. Thomas Street 38°53′58″N 77°06′51″W / 38.89947°N 77.114174°W / 38.89947; -77.114174 (Former location of Harrison Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County South
Greenwood[8] Old Dominion Drive at Lorcom Lane (northwest side); east of N. Vermont Street 38°53′57″N 77°07′01″W / 38.8991534°N 77.1170604°W / 38.8991534; -77.1170604 (Former location of Greenwood Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County South
Maplewood[8] Old Dominion Drive between traffic lanes north of Lee Highway; west of N. Abingdon Street 38°53′55″N 77°07′17″W / 38.89867°N 77.12139°W / 38.89867; -77.12139 (Former location of Maplewood Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County South
Livingston[8] Old Dominion Drive at 24th Street N. (north side) 38°54′03″N 77°07′28″W / 38.90073°N 77.124431°W / 38.90073; -77.124431 (Former location of Livingston Heights Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County Southwest 24th Street N. was Livingstone Street prior to 1932 (named for Colin H. Livingstone)
Lyonhurst[8] Old Dominion Drive at 25th Street N. 38°54′07″N 77°07′33″W / 38.90189°N 77.125799°W / 38.90189; -77.125799 (Former location of Lyonhurst Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County Southwest Named for the nearby estate of Frank Lyon (now Missionhurst)
Summit[8] Old Dominion Drive at 26th Street N. (southeast side) 38°54′11″N 77°07′36″W / 38.9031°N 77.12677°W / 38.9031; -77.12677 (Former location of Summit Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County Southwest
Rixey[8] Old Dominion Drive at N. Glebe Road (east side) 38°54′15″N 77°07′43″W / 38.9042925°N 77.1286476°W / 38.9042925; -77.1286476 (Former location of Rixey Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County Northeast undated Named for the nearby estate of Dr. Presley Marion Rixey.
Marymount University now occupies the Rixey estate.
Later station on southeast side of tracks.[9]
Jewell[10] Old Dominion Drive at Rock Spring Road (north side) 38°54′28″N 77°07′58″W / 38.90781°N 77.132692°W / 38.90781; -77.132692 (Former location of Jewell Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County Southwest undated Named for Charles Jewell
Vanderwerken[10] Old Dominion Drive at Little Falls Road (northwest side) 38°54′35″N 77°08′13″W / 38.90980°N 77.136987°W / 38.90980; -77.136987 (Former location of Vanderwerken Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Arlington County North Named for Gilbert Vanderwerken
Franklyn Park[10] Old Dominion Drive at Franklin Park Road 38°54′55″N 77°08′54″W / 38.91540°N 77.148453°W / 38.91540; -77.148453 (Former location of Franklyn Park Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County Northeast undated
Rockwell[10] Old Dominion Drive near Dominion Crest Lane 38°55′06″N 77°09′00″W / 38.9183177°N 77.1500731°W / 38.9183177; -77.1500731 (Former location of Franklin Park Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County Southwest
Chesterbrook[10] Old Dominion Drive at Kirby Road (northwest side) 38°55′18″N 77°09′13″W / 38.9215898°N 77.1535599°W / 38.9215898; -77.1535599 (Former location of Chesterbrook Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County Northeast
El Nido[11] Old Dominion Drive at Birch Road 38°55′26″N 77°09′42″W / 38.92394°N 77.161762°W / 38.92394; -77.161762 (Former location of El Nido Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County North
Selva[11] Old Dominion Drive at 6th Place 38°55′35″N 77°09′57″W / 38.92639°N 77.165893°W / 38.92639; -77.165893 (Former location of Selva Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County Southwest
Viresco[11] Old Dominion Drive between Pimmit Run and Linway Terrace 38°55′44″N 77°10′04″W / 38.928889°N 77.1678776°W / 38.928889; -77.1678776 (Former location of Viresco Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County Northeast Southeast side of B&O Railroad right-of-way[11][12]
Lawnvale[11] Old Dominion Drive near Holmes Place 38°55′51″N 77°10′22″W / 38.9309379°N 77.1728396°W / 38.9309379; -77.1728396 (Former location of Lawnvale Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County Southwest
McLean[11] Old Dominion Drive at Chain Bridge Road (northwest side) 38°56′03″N 77°10′40″W / 38.93404°N 77.177692°W / 38.93404; -77.177692 (Former location of McLean Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County Northeast Named for John Roll McLean
Ingleside[11] Old Dominion Drive at Ingleside Avenue 38°56′09″N 77°10′59″W / 38.93582°N 77.182946°W / 38.93582; -77.182946 (Former location of Ingleside Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County Northeast
Balls Hill[13] Old Dominion Drive at Balls Hill Road (east side) 38°56′30″N 77°11′39″W / 38.94159°N 77.19419°W / 38.94159; -77.19419 (Former location of Balls Hill Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County West
Hitaffer[13] Old Dominion Drive at Swinks Mill Road (south side) 38°56′48″N 77°12′41″W / 38.9466559°N 77.2114956°W / 38.9466559; -77.2114956 (Former location of Hitafer Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County Northeast
Jackson[13] Old Dominion Drive northwest of Swinks Mill Road 38°56′51″N 77°12′50″W / 38.9474402°N 77.2139579°W / 38.9474402; -77.2139579 (Former location of Jackson Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County Southwest undated
Spring Hill[14] Old Dominion Drive at Spring Hill Road (east side) 38°57′10″N 77°13′35″W / 38.95275°N 77.226382°W / 38.95275; -77.226382 (Former location of Spring Hill Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County Northeast
Prospect Hill[14] Old Dominion Drive at Bellview Place 38°57′30″N 77°14′11″W / 38.95836°N 77.236467°W / 38.95836; -77.236467 (Former location of Prospect Hill Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County Northeast undated
Belleview[14] Old Dominion Drive at Bellview Road 38°57′40″N 77°14′25″W / 38.96098°N 77.240308°W / 38.96098; -77.240308 (Former location of Belleview Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County Southwest undated
Glendale[15] Old Dominion Drive at Towlston Road 38°58′12″N 77°14′58″W / 38.96998°N 77.249559°W / 38.96998; -77.249559 (Former location of Glendale Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County Southwest
Peacock[15] Old Dominion Drive at Peacock Station Road (east side) 38°58′25″N 77°15′12″W / 38.97348°N 77.253223°W / 38.97348; -77.253223 (Former location of Peacock Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County Southwest undated
Fairview[15] Old Dominion Drive at Falls Run Road 38°58′40″N 77°15′26″W / 38.97777°N 77.257141°W / 38.97777; -77.257141 (Former location of Fairview Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County West
Elkins[15] Old Dominion Drive at Georgetown Pike (north side) 38°58′54″N 77°15′25″W / 38.98177°N 77.25686°W / 38.98177; -77.25686 (Former location of Elkins Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County West undated Named for Stephen Benton Elkins.
Dickeys Road Old Dominion Drive in Great Falls Park 38°59′36″N 77°15′20″W / 38.99338°N 77.255688°W / 38.99338; -77.255688 (Former location of Dickeys Road Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County (National Park Service) Named for Dickey's Inn. Near former site of Matildaville.
Great Falls[15] Old Dominion Drive in Great Falls Park 38°59′48″N 77°15′19″W / 38.99663°N 77.255355°W / 38.99663; -77.255355 (Former location of Great Falls Station (Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad)) Fairfax County (National Park Service) Inside turnaround 1. undated postcard
2. undated photo
Terminal station of GF&OD and Great Falls Division of W&OD.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Harwood (2000), p. 37
  2. ^ Harwood (2000), pp. 39-40
  3. ^ Virginia State Route 123
  4. ^ Locations of stations from distances along railroad route from GF&OD Railroad 1916 ICC Valuation Maps and Harwood, p. 141
  5. ^ Side of tracks from GF&OD Railroad 1916 ICC Valuation Maps and Harwood, p. 141
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h GF&OD Railroad 1916 ICC Valuation Map No. 2
  7. ^ Rosslyn Station historical marker located at site of Bluemont Junction station of Washington and Old Dominion Railroad. See: Washington and Old Dominion Railroad#Stations
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i GF&OD Railroad 1916 ICC Valuation Map No. 3
  9. ^ Note: Rixey station in undated photo is on southeast side of tracks, east of N. Glebe Road.
  10. ^ a b c d e GF&OD Railroad 1916 ICC Valuation Map No. 4
  11. ^ a b c d e f g GF&OD Railroad 1916 ICC Valuation Map No. 5
  12. ^ Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail. "The Georgetown Branch Railroad". HMdb.org: The Historical Marker Database (photographed by Tom Fuchs, Greenbelt, MD, 2006-01-21). Retrieved 2012-01-27.  Description of planned Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad branch in Virginia.
  13. ^ a b c GF&OD Railroad 1916 ICC Valuation Map No. 6
  14. ^ a b c GF&OD Railroad 1916 ICC Valuation Map No. 7
  15. ^ a b c d e GF&OD Railroad 1916 ICC Valuation Map No. 8

Further reading[edit]

  • Harwood, Herbert Hawley (2000). Rails to the Blue Ridge: The Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, 1847–1968 (3rd ed.). Fairfax Station, Virginia: Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. ISBN 0-615-11453-9. OCLC 44685168. 
  • Williams, Ames W (1989). The Washington and Old Dominion Railroad. Arlington, Virginia: Arlington Historical Society. ISBN 0-926984-00-4. OCLC 20461397. 

External links[edit]