Dickinson Yard and Other Locations in the Kanawha Valley

New York Central F7-A #1745 Dickinson Yard August, 1967

Dickinson Yard located approximately 14 miles east of West Virginia’s capital city of Charleston, was the largest yard of the former New York Central’s Kanawha Secondary. The secondary ran from Corning, OH, about 60 miles south of Columbus, through Charleston and Dickinson to Swiss about 10 miles beyond Gauley Bridge, WV. Under Penn Central the secondary was known as the Southern Branch.

Another view of #1745 followed by another F7-A and F7-B. Note coal hoppers on left have reporting marks TOC for the Toledo & Ohio Central. I believe this was done to designate them for unit train service. The T&OC was once a subsidiary of the NYC. Someone jokingly said it stood for Train Of Coal.

Norfolk & Western units mingle with NYC’s at Dickinson Yard in August, 1967. N&W had trackage rights on NYC from here to Deepwater Bridge as a result of acquiring the Virginian Railway on December 1, 1959.

Cabooses of the N&W and NYC in Dickinson Yard August, 1967. N&W cab was formerly Virginian #322 built by St. Louis Car Company.

Dickinson Yard served as a gathering point for coal from mines located beyond Swiss on the Nicholas, Fayette & Greenbrier Ry, then jointly owned by the NYC and the Chesapeake & Ohio Ry. Also chemical shipments originated here from surrounding plants such as DuPont. Dickinson Yard also served as the terminus for Norfolk & Western trackage rights trains from Deepwater to Dickinson  For more in depth history of the secondary please visit my blog http://thetracksidephotographer.com/2016/08/11/railroad-town-nitro-west-virginia/ Also detailed information on the NF&G can be found at https://hitopbranchmodelrr.com/history-of-the-secondary/. Also you will find a history of the Hitop Branch of the NYC that my friend Steve Campbell models.

NYC F7-A #1768 on wye track at Dickinson Yard that is used to turn locomotives


Evidence of the February 1, 1968 merger of the NYC with the Pennsylvania RR to form Penn Central. Ex-PRR GP35 #2353 at Dickinson Yard in April, 1968.

N&W Time Freight #72 led by Alco C-628 #1122 (pictured at Dickinson Yard) on NYC trackage through Smithers, WV heading to Deepwater Bridge and home rails. Freight crews of the NYC were qualified to run on the former VGN to Elmore Yard near Mullens and vice versa.

Penn Central GP35 #2318 (former PRR #2318) switching at Cannelton Coal Company’s operation across the Kanawha River from Montgomery. This was the first unit I saw painted for the PC.

Former NYC F7-A #1859 with sister unit PC #1659 at Port Amherst Just east of Charleston in July, 1968. Cleanup underway after derailment under the US 60 bridge.

Side and end views of NYC transfer caboose #18191 at Charleston, WV in February, 1968 just shortly after merger day. Everything looked the same but that was about to change

While the NYC ran on the east side of the Kanawha River for its entire length, the two track mainline of the Chesapeake & Ohio entered the Kanawha Valley approximately four miles west of St Albans and ran the remaining length of the valley. I have covered the C&O in other posts on this website but below are photos at two other points in the valley.

C&O GP9 #6211 with GP7 #5758 switching Appalachian Power’s Cabin Creek substation at Cabin Creek in 1968. Today the power plant and the spur are gone.


Eastbound coal drag at Winifrede Jct across the Kanawha River from Dickinson Yard pulling upgrade with an unusual consist of GP7 #5869, followed by SD18 #1807 and a GP30. Soon the train will arrive at Handley Yard for crew change.

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  1. Great job, Douglas! I always love looking at your old railroad pictures. You captured a lot of rail history!

  2. Great pictures. You have any from conrail n&s and now kanawha river rr??

  3. Trying to find good information on this little known part of the NYC system is honestly quite difficult, even in the internet age. It’s an interesting piece of railroading yet one that’s been overlooked

  4. You have done an excellent job reporting and explaining the areas seen in this article. The photographs that are included are absolutely phenomenal and rarely seen. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to these informative historical posts.

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