It is fitting that the city of Princeton is home to the only railroad museum in southern West Virginia. According to local historian Patricia Smith, Princeton wasn’t much of a town until the arrival of the Virginian Railroad. The Virginian Railway extended from Swells Point on Hampton Roads in Norfolk, Va., to Deepwater, W.Va. It existed from 1909 to 1959, until it was purchased by Norfolk and Western.
The Virginia Railroad was Henry Roger’s final and greatest achievement. It was a sneaky plan. Facing opposition from the bigger railroads, Rogers and William Nelson Page secretly developed a plan to expand their new railroad all the way across West Virginia and Virginia to port at Hampton Roads. The duo modified the Deepwater Railway charter to reach the Virginia-Stateline. In Virginia, they formed another intrastate railroad in Virginia, the Tidewater Railway. In 1907, the Tidewater was changed to the Virginia Railway Company; it acquired the Deepwater Railway to form the West Virginia-Virginia link.
Roger’s railway became the “the biggest little railway in the world.”
The Princeton Railroad Museum is now home to Roger’s legacy. Located on the end of Mercer Street, in the historic district, the two-floor museum is full of artifacts, memorabilia, photos and more from the Virginian. Kids will enjoy climbing inside the red caboose and seeing how workers lived and work on the train.
Admission to the museum is free. Summer hours are Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. To contact the museum, call 304-487-5060.
This post was last updated on July 26, 2016