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Old # 30

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  • psefton@crosslink.net
    Even though Engine 30 wasn t part of the FJG s golden age, I m intrigued that an FJG engine could also have run within a mile of my house here in Virginia.
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 26, 2000
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      Even though Engine 30 wasn't part of the FJG's golden age, I'm intrigued
      that an FJG engine could also have run within a mile of my house here in
      Virginia. While helping my daughter with a term paper, I looked up #30's
      pre-FJG career on the Washington and Old Dominion.

      The W&OD was a branch line that linked towns as far west as the Blue Ridge
      mountains to the national rail hub at Potomac Yards in Alexandria. Up
      through the mid-1930s, it provided steam and electric interurban freight and
      passenger service like the FJG. But the depression diminished ridership to
      the point that passenger service was discontinued, cutting many of the small
      towns off from the city. As the war loomed closer, there was a building boom
      around Washington, and the W&OD's freight business began to pick up. At the
      same time, political pressure was brought to bear to resume passenger
      service, which the railroad grudgingly agreed to.

      To service its new business, the railroad needed to expand its rolling stock
      and convert to diesel. With a loan from one of the big railroads (the C&O
      ?), the W&OD purchased 3 identical new cab-in-center "midget diesels" from
      GE. FJG #30 began life as W&OD #47 (serial number 15041), propitiously
      delivered in December, 1941.

      W&OD#47, along with her sisters #48 and #49 chiefly hauled construction
      material during the war. Ironically, much of this was sand, gravel, and
      concrete from a huge quarry in Fairfax, since filled with construction dirt
      from the Washington Metro system and covered with tract houses. Although the
      W&OD histories do not mention this, I would be surprised if W&OD#47 did not
      haul material for the Pentagon, which was being built within a half-mile of
      Potomac Yards at this time.

      After the war, the midget diesels were used like utility infielders. Ames
      Williams' The W&OD has photos of sister #48 pulling a short string of
      passenger cars, one of which is made out of an old interurban, through rural
      junctions that were densely-settled suburbs 20 years later. The only photo
      of W&OD#47 shows her pulling a hopper car through Alexandria when she was
      brand new in 1941. It is on page 61 of Rails To The Blue Ridge by H.H.

      The postwar years were as cruel to the W&OD as the war years had been kind.
      The wartime boom in Washington had actually made carrying passengers
      profitable. But even though many of the fatrming towns it served were
      blistering up with tract houses and turning into the "inside the beltway"
      that Rush Limbaugh fulminates about, automobile traffic was pushing
      ridership back to depression levels and siphoning off freight business. The
      W&OD began selling off its rolling stock, including the 3 midget diesels. In
      a way W&OD#47 stayed closest to homewhe4n she moved north in 1950, as her
      twin sisters went to Washington State and Mexico.

      Although the W&OD last ran trains in 1968, it became immortal when its
      roadbed was converted into the immensely popular W&OD Bicycle Trail. You can
      see the trail, which runs 35 miles from Alexandria to Leesburg, at
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