West Virginian (train)
|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|First service||September 1971|
|Last service||April 29, 1973|
|End||Parkersburg, West Virginia|
|Distance travelled||351 miles (565 km)|
|Average journey time||8 hours 55 minutes|
|Catering facilities||Snack-bar car|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The West Virginian was a daily passenger train operated by Amtrak between Washington, D.C. and Parkersburg, West Virginia. This route was previously served by the Baltimore & Ohio's (B&O) train of the same name, and was the first of several services in the state of West Virginia established at the behest of US Representative Harley Orrin Staggers (D-West Virginia), the powerful chair of the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee. This patronage earned the train the derisive sobriquets "Harley's Hornet" and the "Staggers Special".
Amtrak introduced the West Virginian in September 1971, making it the first Amtrak-operated service on the B&O. In 1972, Amtrak experimented with the UAC TurboTrain along the route, leading to the route being renamed the Potomac Turbo, but the equipment was withdrawn after three months because of teething problems. Amtrak re-christened the line the Potomac Special, but eventually withdrew it altogether in 1973. In its place Amtrak introduced the Blue Ridge, which terminated at Martinsburg, West Virginia. The introduction of the high-speed Turbotrain to the mountains of West Virginia, where it was occasionally limited to 15 miles per hour (24 km/h), attracted particular scorn from critics. Staggers denied that he had brought any pressure on Amtrak, although fellow representative Dan Kuykendall acknowledged suggesting to Amtrak officials that they "fix up West Virginia."
A later train, the Shenandoah, operated through Parkersburg to Cincinnati, Ohio. This train was introduced in 1976 and withdrawn in 1981. The Blue Ridge was transferred to MARC and continues presently as the Brunswick Line. Amtrak's Capitol Limited, a Chicago-Washington service begun in 1981, operates over the Washington-Cumberland, Maryland portion of the line.
- Schwieterman, Joseph P. (2001). When the Railroad Leaves Town: American Communities in the Age of Rail Line Abandonment, Vol. 1 Eastern United States. Truman State University Press. pp. 312–315. ISBN 0-943549-98-1.
- Reynolds and Oroszi (2000), 126.
- Lang, John (March 30, 1972). "Logic of Milk Run By Amtrak Turbo Train Is Questioned". Nashua Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-05-25.