Page, WV

The unincorporated town of Page, in Fayette County, West Virginia was deeply involved in the early beginnings of what eventually became the Virginian Railway. Many books have documented the history and operation of the VGN including the first book written by H.Reid several years after the VGN was merged into the Norfolk and Western on December 1, 1959. There are other books on the VGN, several by Lloyd Lewis and one by Kurt Reisweber entitled “Virginian Rails”.  It chronicles the VGN just before and after the N&W acquisition and on to the merger of N&W and Southern Railway in 1982 that created what is today’s Norfolk Southern Railway.

Page was also an important part of my family’s life. My mother’s father worked as a conductor between Page and Deepwater. I have one of his (there were many more I’m sure) conductor’s log books that my mom’s sister donated to me to which I am so grateful. Train consists are in my grandfather’s writing and it documents the locomotives, cars and cabooses that were carried on his train. The particular book I have was in the period of July and August, 1927.

My grandfather died tragically in an accident in the yard at Page in May of 1933 after coming off one of his runs. That was about 15 years before I was born. My mother was 6 years old at the time of the accident. She was the third of four children. My grandfather was buried in Page Cemetery which was maintained by family members of the deceased. It is located on the hill above the Kincaid Cemetery on the east side of Loop Creek. My grandmother passed away about 20 years later and she is buried next to him along with other family members in the fenced in plot.

When I was a few years old I remember traveling to Page with my parents. We went there in the fall of each year after the leaves had all fallen from the trees to clean up our family plot. My mom’s first cousin also lived in Page right along the main line of the VGN. She would most often have dinner for us after we finished with the work. Usually a train would pass by the house during our visit and I would dash to the front porch to see it go by. I vaguely remember the yellow and black diesel locomotives of the VGN. From then on I looked forward to the fall of each year including a trip to Page.

For reasons unknown to me, there was a period of several years that we did not go to Page.  The next time we went there I noticed that unlike before not all of the coal hoppers in the yard were lettered VGN. There were N&W cars mixed in. We found out from mom’s cousin that the VGN had been taken over by the N&W. I was saddened to learn that this had happened without my knowing about it. I did read the newspapers some and watched the news but this sure caught me by surprise. From that point on I was determined to not let another railroad merger go by without knowing about it. To this day I have remained true to that pledge.

When I was old enough to drive on my own and with my parent’s permission to borrow their car for the day, I traveled to Page several different times in the late 1960’s to photograph around the area of Page. By this time all former VGN locomotives had been painted in N&W colors and even locomotives used strictly on the N&W before the merger began showing up, as noted on my Deepwater post. The only positive thing was that eight or nine years later, the right-of-way with its telephone lines and searchlight style signals along with dwarf signals still looked very Virginian, plus there were a number of VGN hoppers around that had not been re lettered by the N&W.

Time Freights 71 and 72 made their daily trips on what N&W called the Deepwater District (later the Princeton-Deepwater District) through Page. From what I recall, Time Freight 71 came through during the night. When these trains were cut off sometime during 1968, the frequency of trains on the old VGN dropped to the point that the line between Mullens and Deepwater handled two or maybe three trains a week. This part of the old VGN main including the branch to Oak Hill became more of a long switching move between the two points. The N&W was trying to either abandon the line or take it out of service from just north of Mullens to Deepwater.

The breakup of Conrail between NS and CSX in 1998 saved this part of the old VGN through Page. One part of Conrail that NS acquired was the New York Central line from Columbus, OH. This line followed the Kanawha River through West Virginia to Deepwater and Gauley Bridge to mines located beyond Gauley Bridge. To handle coal movements from Deepwater to Roanoke, the old VGN line was upgraded with welded rail, ties and ballast. Coal that would normally have gone to Columbus could now be handled on a more direct route.

I am thankful to have pictures around Page and I hope you will enjoy them. As the saying goes, “Virginian Railway – Gone but not forgotten.”

Eastbound train led by a trio of ex-VGN
Fairbanks-Morse locomotives heading into
Page in March of 1968. The lead unit is ex-
VGN 53. N&W added  “1” ahead of all F-M
units. It was quite a sight to see.



View looking west at the former VGN passenger
station at Page taken in April, 1967. This  un-
fortunately is the only picture I took of this
structure.



A year later in April, 1968 this metal building
housing the yard office has replaced the old
depot which was torn down. The metal building
met a similar fate some years later.

View of Page looking westbound toward Deepwater.
My mom’s cousin’s house was on the right beyond
the big white structure. This photo is on display in
the new Page Baptist Church lobby placed there by
a childhood friend of my mother. The old church
building was destroyed by fire sometime after
this photo was made.

View of Kincaid from the same point as on
the previous photo looking eastbound. Dwarf
signals are in the background and if you look
closely you can see the back of the searchlight
signal on the left side of the track. Both photos
were taken in April, 1967.

View of Page from Cemetery Road.



View of Kincaid from Cemetery Road. If you
look closely you can make out what probably
is Train 72 heading eastbound.

Leave a comment ?

13 Comments.

  1. Doug,
    What awesome photos! I love reading about your childhood experiences in Page and your watching the VGN trains and ultimately the N&W. I would have loved to have heard those FM Trainmasters in action. I bet they have a distinctive sound!

    Keep the photos coming. I’ll check back often.

    Donald

  2. G. R. Yeager II

    I really enjoyed the photos of DB Tower & Page WV. My father (Bob Yeager) was the station agent at one time. Thanks again.

  3. I have been researching the Virginian Railway for 15 years. Your site contains the only picture I have ever seen of DB Tower (at Alloy on the NYC). Great job!!!!

  4. My Grandfather, John Wood started with the VGN back around 1913 and worked there at Page. He ended up at the Oak Hill station where he retired with 59 years with the railroad. My other Grandparents were members of the Page Baptist Church back in the 60s. I remember going to church there when I spent the summers with them. Great pictures, brings back good memories.

    • Thanks for you comments. Wow 59 years with the railroad! Did you ever know of a John Frazier? He is quite a historian of the area and was the childhood friend of my mother.

  5. I was pretty young when I spent the summers down there so I don’t recall the name but I had Uncles that worked for the railroad so they might have met John Frazier. My Grandad, John Wood was a station agent at Page before I was born. My memories of him was when he was the agent at Oak Hill. He was there for quite a few years. You have some great pictures posted. Thanks

  6. Charles Divita, Jr

    I’ve been searching for my grandfather’s grave. Looked in the kincaid Cenetary where my mother says he was buried. Remember going there as a child to clear the grave. I didn’t know about the Page Cemetary “…on the hill above the Kincaid Cemetery on the east side of Loop Creek” until I read your article. Thank you. I’ll try that area on my next visit to WV. His name was Romeo Easter King (died in mines 2/17/1939. Family lived in Page.

    • I’m glad this article helped you. I haven’t been on my blog for a while so I am hoping you will see my response.

  7. Libby Kincaid

    Doug,

    These are wonderful! Thank you so much. My family grew up in Page and Kincaid. My uncle was a clerk at the Page Depot for several years. He will enjoy these too.
    Libby Cole Kincaid

    • Libby,

      Thank you for contacting me and sharing about your family. If you haven’t seen my post on My Favorite Locations on the Former Virginian Railway there a few more pictures at Page and Kincaid.

      Doug

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