Started in 1857 and completed in 1877, a 38 mile railway was laid between the towns of
Fredericksburg and Orange in the Piedmont of central Virginia which eventually came
to be called the Virginia Central Railway and operated until its abandonment in 1984.


sample imageThe most comprehensive history of the Virginia Central Railway that has been discovered so far was written by Ames W. Williams and published in a 1985 issue of the National Railway Bulletin, just after the railway ceased operations.  Click on the cover image to access that article.  Other works known to exist about this railroad are The Second Virginia Central Railway by W. Hugh Moomaw (Annual Collection Of Essays In History, University of Virginia History Club, 1954), Fredericksburg To Orange By Rail by Robert A. Hodge (1973), The Virginia Central Railway by John J. Hilton (The Headway Recorder, December 1969) and A Most Unusual Railroad by J. William Mann (unknown date of publication). 

Prior to coming to be called the Virginia Central Railway in 1926, this right-of-way has been known by the following names:

  • Fredericksburg & Gordonsville Railroad Company (1853-1871, 1873-1876)

  • "Unfinished Railroad" (Civil War reference)

  • Fredericksburg, Orange & Charlottesville Railroad Company (1871-1873)

  • Potomac, Fredericksburg & Piedmont Railroad Company (1876-1925)

  • "Poor Folks & Preachers" (local nickname)

  • "The Narrow Gauge" (local nickname)

  • Orange & Fredericksburg Railroad (1925-1926)

  • "Battlefield Route" (VCR company slogan)


sample imageA two mile section of the Virginia Central Railway right-of-way has been opened by Spotsylvania County as a public trailway.  Click on the picture of the trail to get more information.

An unpaved and not yet open portion of the Virginia Central Railway.

Historical marker regarding the Battle of Chancellorsville that refers to the "Unfinished  Railroad", the right-of-way for which can be seen in the background.

Fredericksburg folksinger and guitarmaker Bob Gramann has written the song Ghost Train about the history and present uses of the "Narrow Gauge". Lyrics.
Purchase CD.



Both Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania have plans to open their portions of the right-of-way as a public trailway.  Click on the map to view the Spotsylvania County Master Trailways Plan.

Please support the opening of this trailway and encourage others to do so also.  This would be a great boon to residents of and visitors to the area by facilitating recreation, transportation and historical discovery.

Please see the Contact page for who to contact to volunteer your support.


On Thursday, June 9, 2011, starting at 6:30 p.m. the Spotsylvania Planning Department will host a community meeting during which the company hired to design the Virginia Central Railway Trail will presents its concept to the public.  Please attend and express your support for the trail and encourage a quick implementation of the plan.

Click on the map above to review the Trail Design Guidelines including concept maps promulgated by that company.