Expanded Passenger Service to Norfolk

Last week, the Richmond Times-Dispatch carried a story by Luz Lazo of the Washington Post. The article starts as follows,

Virginia is adding more Amtrak service between the nation’s capital and eastern and western parts of the state, the latest milestone in Virginia’s multibillion-dollar expansion of its passenger rail network.

New round trips start July 11: one to Norfolk and another to Roanoke, bringing to eight the number of state-funded round trips from Washington. The expansion, state and railroad officials said, addresses growing demand for more intercity train service in the state.

So, there will be more passenger trains passing through town.

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Virtual Railfan Live Feed

Here is a link to the live feed of the Railfan camera located on England St.

Railfan Live Feed, England St., Ashland, VA

The YouTube address is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIwzSSGbxZw. The administrators of the site say,

You are watching a live stream of Ashland, Virginia USA, for people who enjoy watching trains. You are welcome to join our family friendly chat, but keep in mind that there’s a community with rules already established. Please check them out below. North Cam: https://youtu.be/zys9cWMwfpY South Cam: https://youtu.be/BsZoTLiHA-s PTZ Cam (Chat): https://youtu.be/VIwzSSGbxZw Special thanks to Hometown Realty for hosting our North and South cams! Visit them at https://www.hometownrealtyservices.com. The PTZ is hosted by the Town of Ashland: https://ashlandva.gov. Thank you moderator Don Root for sponsoring the new cam!

Iowa Derailment

On Monday, May 16th 2021 a freight train derailed near the town of Sibley, Iowa. The following is from CNN.

Union Pacific crews are readying to remove rail cars after a train derailment and fire prompted evacuations in northwest Iowa on Sunday, Union Pacific spokesperson Robynn Tysver said Monday. “We know the impacted cars were carrying hydrochloric acid, potassium hydroxide and asphalt. The derailment happened at around 2 p.m. Sunday in Sibley and involved an estimated 47 cars. The train crew was not injured.” Tysver said

CNN. Joe Sutton.

The cause of the derailment is under investigation, but first reports indicate that it involved a bridge collapse. The fire itself was caused by diesel fuel.

This incident caught my eye for three reasons. First, it shows that, were such an event to take place in Ashland, it would likely impact the homes and businesses in our neighborhood.

Second, if bridge collapse is indeed a factor then the incident highlights the need for improved infrastructure — a topic that has been much talked about in recent months. If the cause of the incident was indeed a bridge collapse one has to wonder what infrastructure improvements are needed in our community.

The third factor in the incident that caught my attention was the fact that the train included tank cars of potassium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid (base and acid). Were those two chemicals to mix the consequences would be very serious indeed.

Sibley Iowa Train Derailment

McMurdo House

Last week we published a post McMurdo House: State Register to do with the historical preservation of 713 S. Center St. The Richmond Times-Dispatch has published a similar article: Ashland’s Macmurdo House, 163 years old, listed on state landmarks register.


The circa 1858 Macmurdo House, situated along Ashland’s picturesque Center Street, was recently added to the Virginia Landmarks Register, the state’s official list of places of historic, architectural, archaeological and cultural significance. It also has been submitted to be considered for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

Named for the family who built it — Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad Treasurer Cunningham Waldrop Macmurdo — it’s one of more than 200 properties within Ashland’s designated Historic District, and one of the earliest homes built in the newly established Town of Ashland, incorporated that same year.

The home’s history reportedly includes a visit from Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson and his senior officers in the days leading to the Seven Days’ Battle in 1862. At one point, it served as a Civil War hospital.

Derailed tanker held toxic chemical

The Richmond Times-Dispatch for December 19, 2020 published the following report to do with a derailment in downtown Roanoke.

The report describes damage to a car containing liquid sulfur. Sulfur is a yellow solid at room temperatures. It is used to make sulfuric acid (the acid in our car batteries). The sulfur is liquefied for transportation and loaded into tank cars. (Its melting point is 115.2 °C / 239.4 °F.)

Liquid sulfur is a hazardous chemical. We there to be a spill, the high temperature liquid could cause severe burns. Also, were it to catch fire, it would generate sulfur dioxide (SO2) fumes that are toxic.

Historic Designation

The recent change in administration is likely to revive interest in high speed rail.  Therefore we need to keep the “No High Speed Rail” project active.

One reason for opposing a third track through the town of Ashland is that it would damage the historic properties that are located on or near the tracks. Attached is a copy of a letter that I received from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources  to do with placing the Macmurdo House on the National Register of Historic Places. I replied expressing my strong support for the proposal.

I urge others to do the same.