Monthly Archives: April 2011

Huntington, WV Part II – Last run of the FFV

Headed by lone E-8, 4009, Tr #3 The FFV arrives in Huntington, WV May 12, 1968 for the last time

Generally the month of May is a time of celebration and remembrance. There is Mother’s Day a tradition that has carried on for generations. For kids it signals  the end of another school year. Most high schools and colleges conduct their commencement exercises in May. And we also pause to remember those who died in the wars to keep our country free. Amtrak came into existence on May 1, 1971 and we celebrate National Train Day. Also the Golden Spike was driven at Promontory Point, Utah on May 10, 1869 to signal the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.

The Fast Flying Virginian, or FFV for short, began it’s inaugural run on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway between Washington, DC and Cincinnati, OH on May 11, 1889. The FFV operated westbound as Train #3 and its eastbound counterpart as Train #6. The FFV ran a daytime schedule through the New River Gorge which allowed passengers to view the beauty of this area of West Virginia.

C&O Mechanical Dept employee pausing before he makes an air brake test (on left). A few people on the platform to see the FFV off for the final time.

The FFV served the heart of West Virginia for many years. After World War II ended new roads including a new system of interstate highways were constructed which made traveling by car more convenient and the airlines were attracting people that were in a hurry to get to their destinations. Because of this, passenger trains throughout the country began to experience a decline in ridership.

The railroad companies facing lost revenue from passenger operations began petitioning the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) for permission to remove a number of passenger trains beginning in the 1950’s. The C&O was no different. The first of the trains to go were the locals which served intermediate stations that the main line trains did not serve. This also included locals running on a few of the branch lines in West Virginia.

In the early 1960’s the C&O was successful in cutting back service on eastbound Train #6, the FFV, from Cincinnati to Huntington. Then on October 27, 1962, Train #6 as well as eastbound Train #5, The Sportsman, made their final runs.

Besides C&O’s premier trains #1 and #2, The George Washington, the Huntington area was left with Train #4, the eastbound Sportsman and Train #3 the westbound FFV running between Washington and Cincinnati. The FFV became C&O’s only daytime passenger train running through the Huntington area after October, 1962.

In 1967 the United States Post Office (later the US Postal Service) opted to move mail by trucks and planes only. The contract the railroads had with the USPO over the years helped to subsidize the remaining passenger trains on the C&O and other railroads.

With the upcoming loss of mail contracts, it was inevitable that the nation’s railroads would seek to discontinue even more trains. The C&O did that by asking the ICC for approval to discontinue The Sportsman and The FFV which would leave the George Washington as C&O’s only remaining passenger train on its system.

The FFV pulling out of the Huntington station. Normally two units were used from here to Cincinnati

On a cool gloomy May 12, 1968, just one day and 79 years ago after its inaugural run, The FFV made its farewell run. Also that day the Sportstman had made it’s final run in early morning darkness. A few people showed up to wish the FFV goodbye. It was a sad day for those who witnessed it, including myself.  There would not be another daytime train through the Huntington area for years to come.


Tr #3 passing into the sunset

Consist of the last run of Train #3 (on left) and Train Order 201  issued May 13, 1968 that abolished the schedules of trains # 3 and #4