C&O Railway Heritage Festival Returns With Exciting Lineup for Clifton Forge

As organizations begin to schedule in-person events for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that put a pause on many annual festivities, the C&O Historical Society is excited to announce the return of the C&O Railway Heritage Festival.

This annual fundraising event for the 53year-old non-profit organization that preserves and shares the transportation history of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway will take place at the C&O Railway Heritage Center museum on September 10, 2022 from 10 AM to 4 PM.  Admission is $5.00 per person and, in order to introduce rail history to the next generation of supporters, children three years old and under will be admitted into the event for free.

The region’s rail heritage will be celebrated with a large lineup of events and features for visitors of all ages.  In addition, the C&O Historical Society is also celebrating the completion of the C&O Railway Heritage Center’s new mural with a special dedication ceremony taking place at 1:00 PM.  The new mural, entitled “Bringing the 2-6-6-6 Alleghany Back to Life” was painted on the retaining wall at the Heritage Center and features a Chesapeake & Ohio Railway “Alleghany”-type steam locomotive powering a period-appropriate freight train.  Local artist William Jennings completed the work through a months-long process of research and technical artistry to ensure the mechanical accuracy of the finished product.  Mr. Jennings will be onsite throughout the day with other pieces of his art on sale and for display.

The C&O Heritage Center’s popular 7.5″ gauge “Little C&O” ride-on train will be running throughout the extensive museum grounds, which feature a variety of replica railroad structures, such as the 1891 passenger station and the 1920s signal tower “JD Cabin.”  The two-story structure serves as a great vantage point for watching and photographing CSX’s active yard and main line traffic.  Beside JD Cabin rests a popular fixture at the C&O Railway Heritage Center:  the famed 1948-built C&O J3a 4-8-4 steam locomotive No. 614.  During the Heritage Festival, guests can tour the locomotive’s cab and sit behind the throttle in the engineer’s seat.

Generously donated to the C&O Historical Society by CSX Transportation after a meticulous restoration at the CSX Huntington Locomotive Shop in West Virginia, the SD40 diesel locomotive No. 7534 is the newest example of railroad motive power to be put on public display at the Clifton Forge museum.  Now wearing its original C&O Railway paint and lettering, visitors can also take a seat in the restored cab of this 1971-built showpiece.

The C&OHS’s 5,000-square-foot museum, housed in a restored 1896 railroad Freight House, will also be open for visitors.  Its indoor exhibits were researched and developed to illustrate the timeline of the railway’s push west, taking the visitor through history up to the modern CSX Transportation era.

As part of the C&O Historical Society’s fundraising campaign to restore the office car “Chessie 29,” currently located onsite in Clifton Forge, the passenger car will be open for tours throughout the day  when requested.  The project, the organization’s most ambitious in its history, went public in November and has been gaining traction internationally as print media covers the car’s history, the C&OHS’s restoration plans, and with the production of a viral video featuring a globally-known social media influencer.

This favorite event continues with a wide variety of exhibits and vendors covering six acres of the C&O Railway’s historic Smith’s Creek Yard.  There will be entertainment throughout the day including:

  • DJ David Kid from 10AM – 3 PM
  • The competition dance team GPS-819 performing from 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
  • The Alleghany Highlands Blues Band performing from 3 PM – 4 PM

So attendees do not miss the scheduled lineup of events and entertainment, great food will be available to purchase throughout the day from a lineup of on-site vendors:

  • The Clifton Forge Rescue Squad will sell hot dogs and drinks
  • Michele Nicely will sell candy and caramel apples and a variety of hard candy
  • Heirlooms will sell freshly-baked cinnamon rolls

The C&O Historical Society’s staff will also be on hand selling flavored popcorn choices, drinks, and freshly-made snow cones.

The C&O Railway Heritage Center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 AM – 4 PM at 705 Main Street, Clifton Forge, VA and may be contacted by phone at 540-862-8653 or by email at [email protected].  Updates and additional information can be found on Facebook under @CandOHeritage or on Instagram @ChessiesRoad.

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