Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad

Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad

RF&P freight train in 1969
Reporting mark RFP
Locale Virginia, United States
Dates of operation 18361991
Successor CSXT
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Richmond, VA

The Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad (reporting mark RFP) was a railroad connecting Richmond, Virginia, to Washington, D.C. It is now the RF&P Subdivision of the CSX Transportation system.

The RF&P was a bridge line, with a slogan of "Linking North & South," on a system that stretched about 113 miles.[1] Until around 1965 RF&P originated less than 5% of its freight tonnage, probably less than any other Class I railroad. For much of its existence the RF&P connected with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and Seaboard Air Line Railroad at Richmond. At Alexandria and through trackage rights to Union Station in Washington, D.C., connections were made with the Pennsylvania Railroad, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Southern Railway. It connected to the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad at Potomac Yard and interchanged with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway at Doswell. It and the former Conrail properties are the only CSX lines to have cab signal requirements on their entire system.


Revenue passenger traffic, in millions of passenger-miles
Year Traffic
1925 132
1933 48
1944 822
1960 168
1970 80
Source: ICC annual reports

The Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad was chartered on February 25, 1834 to run from Richmond north via Fredericksburg to the Potomac River. It opened from Richmond to Hazel Run in 1836, to Fredericksburg on January 23, 1837, and the rest of the way to the Potomac River at Aquia Creek on September 30, 1842. Steamboat service to Washington, D.C., and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was provided by the Washington and Fredericksburg Steamboat Company, later renamed the Potomac Steamboat Company, controlled by the railroad after 1845.[2]

Badly damaged during the Civil War, on October 11, 1870[3] an extension to the north toward Quantico was authorized at a Special meeting of the company's stockholders. The company's charter limited this branch to 10 miles, leaving it 1.7 miles short of the Alexandria and Fredericksburg Railroad. This split from the existing line at Brooke and ran north to Quantico, also on the Potomac. The old line to the Aquia Creek wharf was abandoned on the opening of the Quantico wharf on May 1, 1872.[4]

On the other end of the line the Alexandria and Washington Railroad was chartered on February 27, 1854 to build from the south end of the Long Bridge over the Potomac River south to Alexandria. That line opened in 1857. The railroad went bankrupt and was sold July 9, 1887, being reorganized November 23, 1887, as the Alexandria and Washington Railway. In 1873 the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad's branch over the Long Bridge opened, giving a route into Washington, D.C., over which the A&W obtained trackage rights.

Revenue freight traffic, in millions of net ton-miles
Year Traffic
1925 438
1933 265
1944 1462
1960 819
1970 1102
Source: ICC annual reports

The Alexandria and Fredericksburg Railway was chartered February 3, 1864, to continue the line from Alexandria to Fredericksburg. It opened on July 2, 1872, only reaching Quantico, the north end of the RF&P. At Quantico the 1.7-mile (2.7 km) Potomac Railroad, chartered April 21, 1867, and opened May 1, 1872, connected the two lines. It was leased to the RF&P for 28 years from May 17, 1877. On March 31, 1890, the two companies terminating in Alexandria merged to form the Washington Southern Railway. Until November 1, 1901, it was operated by the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad and its successor the Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad (part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system). The Potomac Railroad lease was transferred to the Washington Southern on June 30, 1904. On February 24, 1920, the Washington Southern was formally merged into the RF&P.

The Richmond-Washington Company was incorporated September 5, 1901 as a holding company, owning the entire capital stock of the two railroads. The stock of the company was owned equally by the Pennsylvania Railroad, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, Southern Railway, Seaboard Air Line Railway and Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. Four of these companies (B&O, ACL, SAL, C&O) have since become part of CSX. The Southern Railway is now part of Norfolk Southern and does not use the former RF&P; the former Pennsylvania Railroad, in its later incarnation as Conrail, has been split between CSX and Norfolk Southern with most of PRR's routes becoming part of Norfolk Southern. However, the portion of the former PRR that connected to the very north of the RF&P's former Potomac Yard, across the Long Bridge and into Washington DC, became part of CSX following the takeover of Conrail by NS and CSX.

From 1902 to 1908, major sections of the main line totalling 21 miles (34 km) were relocated. On 31 Dec 1925 RF&P operated 118 miles of road and 432 miles of track; on 31 Dec 1970 mileages were 118 and 518.

Company Presidents[5]
John A. Lancaster 1834–1836
Conway Robinson 1836–1838
Joseph M. Sheppard 1836–1840
Moncure Robinson 1840–1847
Edwin Robinson 1847–1860
Peter V. Daniel, Jr. 1860–1871
John M. Robinson 1871–1878
Robert Ould 1878–1881
Joseph P. Brinton 1881–1889
E. D. T. Myers 1889–1905
William J. Leake 1905–1907
William White 1907-1920[6]
Eppa Hunton, Jr. 1920–1932
Norman Call 1932–1955
William T. Rice 1955-1957[7]
Wirt P. Marks, Jr. 1957–1960
Stuart Shumate 1961-1981[8]
John J. Newbauer, Jr. 1981–1985
Richard L. Beadles 1985–1986
Frank A. Crovo, Jr. 1986–1991

Passenger service

As the link between "North and South" the RF&P primarily hosted the trains of other railroads, particularly those on the lucrative New York–Florida run. In March 1950 this included the East Coast Champion, West Coast Champion, Miamian, Palmland, Silver Star, Silver Comet, Orange Blossom Special, Silver Meteor, Vacationer, Havana Special, Palmetto, Florida Special, Cotton Blossom, Sunland, and Everglades.[9]

The RF&P operated comparatively few trains of its own. One was the Old Dominion, a streamliner inaugurated in 1947 between Washington and Richmond. This train used four 70-seat coaches and a cafe-parlor car, all built by American Car and Foundry.[10]


RF&P train starting out from Richmond, Virginia in 1865.
Richmond Connection

The Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac and Richmond and Petersburg Railroad Connection was chartered March 3, 1866, and opened May 1, 1867, as a connection between the RF&P and the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad (later part of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad) west of downtown Richmond. It was operated jointly by those two companies. In addition, a downtown connection was owned by the R&P past Broad Street Station.


The Louisa Railroad was chartered in 1836, running from the RF&P at Doswell west to Louisa. At first it was operated as a branch of the RF&P, but it was reorganized as the Virginia Central Railroad in 1850 and merged into the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in 1868 as its oldest predecessor.


The short branch from the north end to Rosslyn opened in 1896, and was sold to the Rosslyn Connecting Railroad in 1903, which was controlled by the Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad.

Station listing

Milepost City Station Opening date Connections and notes
CFP110.1 Alexandria RO Interlocking north end of the RF&P at Potomac Yard, continues via trackage rights over Baltimore and Potomac Railroad (PRR) to Union Station in Washington, D.C.
junction with Rosslyn Connecting Railroad (PRR)
CFP109.0 Crystal City Virginia Railway Express Fredericksburg Line and Manassas Line
CFP106.5 Slater's Lane junction with Norfolk Southern (SOU) branch to Mirant power plant and Robinson Terminal warehouse on the Alexandria waterfront. Defective equipment detector.
CFP105.3 Alexandria 1905 Virginia Railway Express Fredericksburg Line and Manassas Line
Amtrak Carolinian, Northeast Regional, Palmetto, Silver Meteor and Silver Star
CFP104.3 AF Interlocking junction with Orange and Alexandria Railroad (SOU)
CFP99.3 Springfield Franconia 1870 Closed 1952. Replaced by Franconia–Springfield (WMATA station) with additional Virginia Railway Express Fredericksburg Line and Amtrak NortheastRegional service in 1997.
CFP95.7 Newington Newington Station also known at times as "Accotink"; was interchange point with the U.S. Government Branch to Fort Belvoir.
CFP92.5 Lorton Lorton Virginia Railway Express Fredericksburg Line
Amtrak Auto Train
junction with Lorton and Occoquan Railroad
CFP89.9 Colchester Colchester
CFP89.4 Woodbridge Woodbridge Virginia Railway Express Fredericksburg Line
Amtrak Northeast Regional; station also known at times as "Occoquan".
CFP85.7 Rippon Virginia Railway Express Fredericksburg Line
CFP82.4 Cherry Hill Cherry Hill
CFP78.8 Quantico Quantico 1872 Rebuilt in 1919 and 1953. Virginia Railway Express Fredericksburg Line
Amtrak Carolinian and Northeast Regional
CFP74.1 Widewater
CFP70.7 Aquia
CFP68.1 Stafford Brooke Virginia Railway Express Fredericksburg Line
CFP63.4 Falmouth Leeland Virginia Railway Express Fredericksburg Line
CFP59.4 Fredericksburg Fredericksburg 1910 Virginia Railway Express Fredericksburg Line
Amtrak Carolinian and Northeast Regional
junction with Virginia Central Railway
CFP51.5 Summit
CFP46.9 Guinea Guinea Freight ramp still exists diagonally across the tracks from the entrance to the Stonewall Jackson Shrine
CFP44.5 Woodford Woodford Still exists next to the Woodford Post Office
Bowling Green Park
CFP37.8 Milford Milford 1891 Still exists across from the corner of Antioch Road and Colonial Road
CFP33 Penola Penola 1886
CFP27.1 Ruther Glen Ruther Glen
CFP21.8 Doswell Doswell Rebuilt in 1928. Junction with Virginia Central Railroad (C&O).
CFP14.8 Ashland Ashland 1866 Rebuilt 1890 and 1923. Currently serves Amtrak's Northeast Regional line
CFP11.5 Elmont Elmont
CFP8.1 Glen Allen Glen Allen Closed in 1956.
CFP6.4 Laurel Laurel
CFP4.6 Richmond Staples Mill Road 1975 Amtrak Carolinian, Palmetto, Northeast Regional, Silver Meteor and Silver Star
CFP1.7 AY Interlocking junction with Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac and Richmond and Petersburg Railroad Connection at Acca Yard
CFP0.0 Broad Street Station 1917 Closed in 1975, and now is the home of the Science Museum of Virginia.


  1. Griffin, William E. Jr, Capital Cities Route, pages 2-3, TLC Publishing, 1994
  2. Griffin, William E. Jr, Capital Cities Route, pages 4-5, TLC Publishing, 1994
  3. Griffin, William E. Jr, Capital Cities Route, page 6, TLC Publishing, 1994
  4. Griffin, William E. Jr, Capital Cities Route, page 7, TLC Publishing, 1994
  5. Griffin, William E. Jr, Capital Cities Route, page 21, TLC Publishing, 1994
  6. "The Jackson Shrine Along the RF&P". Bull Sheet Monthly News. October 1993. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  7. "William Thomas Rice Obituary Prepared by his Family". CSX Transportation. 2006-02-06. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  8. "The Academy of Engineering Excellence" (PDF). Virginia Tech College of Engineering. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  9. Official Guide of the Railways. New York: National Railway Publication Co. March 1950. pp. 595–597. OCLC 6340864.
  10. Wayner, Robert J., ed. (1972). Car Names, Numbers and Consists. New York: Wayner Publications. p. 73. OCLC 8848690.
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