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Railroads in NOVA: Why They Went Where They Went, and When They Went There

Lecture by Author Charlie Grymes

Grymes - MapTrains once steamed through Leesburg and tracks were proposed for southern Loudoun. The politics and economics of choosing where to build railroads were debated intensely in the 1800s, with cut-throat competition. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ended up having to float boxcars across the Potomac River. Visionary dreams of hauling coal across the Blue Ridge were realized, but Baltimore was the winner. Alexandria lost on coal, but finally won the “who will grow in NOVA” transportation game in the 1850s. Rational alignment of rail traffic finally occurred with completion of Potomac Yard in 1906.

 Charlie Grymes teaches "Geography of Virginia" at George Mason University (see www.virginiaplaces.org). He retired from the US Department of the Interior after over 30 years in a variety of jobs, including park ranger, scenic easement administrator, and information technology manager. He now serves on the boards of local non-government organizations, including chair of the Prince William Conservation Alliance. As a 10th generation Virginian (Leesylvania State Park is an old family plantation,) he often wonders why earlier generations kept buying land at high prices and selling it after values dropped.

Programs sponsored by Thomas Balch Library are held in the Lower Level Meeting Room and are free unless otherwise noted. Books will be available for purchase the day of the event.  Cash or Check only.   Due to limited seating, we recommend registering in advance by calling 703-737-7195 or on-line at https://www.leesburgva.gov/government/departments/thomas-balch-library/library-events/event-registration.  For updated news on events, visit our website at:  www.leesburgva.gov/ThomasBalchLibrary or find us on Facebook.

 

 

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