I have been interested in railroading since I can remember and according to my parents even before I was a year old. It must have been inherited as my maternal grandfather worked as a conductor on the former Virginian Railway. Unfortunately he died 15 years before I was born.

I was born in Huntington, WV and from age 2 lived in the Kanawha Valley town of Nitro about 40 miles east of Huntington and 15 miles west of the capital city of Charleston. After graduating from Nitro High School in 1966 I lived with my paternal grandparents in Huntington while attending Marshall University. During this time until June of 1970 I did a majority of my photographing. I was drafted in the Army and served in Germany during the Vietnam War. After returning home in March of 1972, I completed my civil engineering degree at MU in 1973.

My life long dream was to work for a major railroad and it came to fruition when I began working for Southern Railway in Valdosta, GA in September of 1973. I really did not want to move from WV but there was no work for me there. A year later I moved to the Atlanta area and have been here to this day. I retired on November 1, 2003 from Norfolk Southern Corp and have worked part time for STV/Ralph Whitehead Associates, an engineering consulting firm in the rail section. Since July 2014, I have my own company called Kanawha Technical Services, Inc. It is named in honor of the county and the river that passed by the city of Nitro where I lived. As of January 1, 2017 I closed my company and have fully retired.

In September, 1977 I met my sweetie and in January 1980 we were happily married and have been so ever since. We have four children three of which are married and we have now have six grandchildren.

The purpose of this blog is to share with you pictures and memories of railroading in the southern West Virginia and other locations as it existed in the mid to late 1960’s. Railroads such as the Chesapeake and Ohio, Norfolk and Western and the New York Central, several shortlines plus a few pictures of western railroads will round things out as I continue to write more posts from time to time.

All pictures on this blog site were taken by me unless otherwise noted.

If you enjoy this blog site and wish to make a donation I would be most grateful.

Thanks for stopping by.

Doug Bess

Updated 02-06-2020


I am thankful to have been able to photograph the various railroads that existed in the time period of the 1960’s. All of those railroad names pictured on my website during that period have disappeared as a result of mergers or bankruptcies.

The one thing that has not changed for an eternity is God. As much as I love my family and railroading, God is who I love most. It is He who created the universe. It is He who created the earth, sun, moon, stars, plants, sea and land animals simply by speaking them into existence.  It is He who created man with His own hands and in His own image.

Life was perfect in the Garden of Eden. It stayed that way until Adam and Eve sinned by eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Because of their sin, they were evicted from the garden separated from God. Also because we are all descendants of Adam and Eve we have inherited sinful bodies with virtually no hope..

However God provided a way for us to reach Him. Because of His love for us, God the Father sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for all sins past present and future for those who believe in Him. In the Bible, the Book of John, in Chapter 3 verse 16 says that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son (Jesus) that whoever believes in him shall not parish but have everlasting life. If you have not repented of your sins and have not trusted Jesus to be the Lord of your life, I hope you will do so today.

The above is a short statement of what God through Jesus Christ has done for us as believers. He has worked wonders in my life and in the life of my family. He can do the same for you if only trust and obey Him.

Listed below are links to websites that I hope you will take time to visit.






Although my website focuses on the historic side of railroading, I have made videos of Norfolk Southern and CSX trains and have posted them on my YouTube Channel simply named Doug Bess.  However there is more than one Doug Bess. After watching this one you should be able to search for my other videos.



Doug Bess

Updated 02-06-2020

Leave a comment ?


  1. Great website, Doug. I especially appreciate the commentary.

    A correction and question for you on the same picture.

    C&O 5056 is an ALCO-GE S2 model. Not S1.

    I will be painting a couple of brass S2 locomotives for C&O and can’t tell from anywhere whether they were black or C&O Enchantment Blue. Your picture, while great, doesn’t answer the question, at least not on my monitor.


    Dick Cataldi

    • Dick,

      Thanks for the correction.

      As far as the paint it is Enchantment Blue. Enchantment Blue has some black pigment mixed in which could give an appearance of being black on color monitors or even photos if the lighting is not right. If you go to the Fallen Flags website (rr-fallenflags.org/co/co-loco.html) there is a black and white photo of F7A 7068 painted in the experimental black scheme.

      Conversely, there are some who strongly believed from photos that Virginian EL-2Bs streamlined electrics were painted dark blue when in fact they were black.


  2. Nice photos i must say,
    I am currently modeling the NYC in WV and would like to ask you a few questions, if that would not be too much to ask.

  3. Are the only units you saw on NYC units you saw on the line RS-3s, F7s (b units?), and gp7s? Also was there a switch engine at dickinson or would roadswitchers be used? Some points of interest for me are the Electro met plant at Alloy, and the Semet-Solvay loader at Boomer. Also i am interested in the tank car storage at Charleston, and any lineside industries there.

    • I did mostly see F7As and GP9s without dynamic brakes. RS-3s were somewhat rare. Even though I lived in Nitro, my family’s house was located up 21st St out of view of the NYC. Also trains running on the Secondary were not as frequent as those on the C&O across the Kanawha River in the St Albans area. It could be that NYC used RS-3s and other units at times I was not around. As far as Dickinson Yard is concerned, I don’t remember seeing SW units there. Also I don’t know what units were used to switch the old Union Carbide Metals Alloy Plant or Semet-Solvay at Boomer. I would assume road units.

  4. For Alloy and Boomer, i was curious if you had pictures of them. Alloy did its own switching and the NYC/N&W left cars on the double ended siding next to it. The NYC will obviously have less traffic as the entire line is a branch, compared to the C&O which has it mainline along the Kanawha. That being said 2(daily)way freights went northbound and 2(daily) went southbound. 1 of the former and the latter had connections with the VGN(N&W). Very few NYC units had dynamic brakes , due to the NYC being the “Water Level Route”. Considering where you were, the roadswitchers were probably used more on the local trains where the extra vision was necessitated. So it is a possibility that the RS-3s were used almost exclusively south of Charleston.

  5. Very nice site Doug! Thanks for telling me about it. I placed your link in my favorites. Thanks again, Frank

  6. This is a great site. You should publish a book.

  7. 😛 😀 😉 😀 My neck of the woods too! Talk to you one of these days.

  8. Mr. Bess, I am an amateur author, and I am looking for photos of the Page, WV area especially with steam age items. I will use them for covers for my books. I would be willing to purchase some from you. I have several including NW-ex-VGN-RofW-Looking-EB-May-1967- Photo The house on the right side is where my grandfather lived. I am anxiously waiting your reply, as I have spent ,many hours searching.

    I see we have a same personal friend in Jesus.

    Ernie Payne

  9. My husband’s father, Leo C. Wilcox, was president of the B&O Veteran Employees’ Association in Keyser, WV, in the 50s. We have a picture from 1955 of several of the Cumberland Division officers and another of several woman who are officers of the Keyser, Pittsburgh and surrounding auxiliaries. All individuals in these photographs are identified. I can send you electronic versions of the front and backs of these pictures, if you are interested.

    • Thank you Judi, but my main focus was on the C&O. However, if you want to send them, I have a friend who is a big B&O fan and I think he would enjoy them.

  10. Doug, I just “found” your tracksidephotographer post re Southern’s Spring Street HQ building. A great history of the building!

    I started with Southern as a management trainee in Engineering & Research at 99 Spring St. SW in Atlanta in late 1972 and departed in late 1974 (the 1st energy crisis was impacting the industry including Southern). I last saw the building around 2015 while on a business trip to Atlanta, closed tight.

    Have you seen the cable TV horror series “The Walking Dead”? The opening credits use the 99 building as a backdrop!

    • Michael, I probably just missed you. I worked on the 6th Floor of the 99 Building. Thanks for the kind comments. I have not seen The Walking Dead.


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