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NRHS 2018 Convention Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad 8/10/2018

by Chris Guenzler

I went to Harrigan's Restaurant to have breakfast and ate it with my friend and fellow NRHS member Joe and went back upstairs to the room, got Robin up and worked on stories. Elizabeth was supposed to come by but never made it as she got stuck in the elevator between floors with nine other people so the Cumberland Fire Department had to rescue them and everyone had to use the stairs to reach the buses this morning. Every trip is an adventure! So once the fire department left the hotel, the buses then arrived and once loaded, we made the short forty-minute bus ride to the Potomac Eagle for the second trip of this convention.

The Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad

The Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad is a heritage railroad based in Romney, West Virginia.

The railroad operates excursion trains over a former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line that runs from Green Spring to Petersburg. The West Virginia State Rail Authority owns the line and freight service is provided by the South Branch Valley Railroad.

The Potomoc Eagle Scenic Railroad's excursion trains run from Romney to Moorefield with occasional longer trips to Petersburg. All excursions use diesel locomotives.

A highlight of the trip is passage along the South Branch Potomac River through "The Trough", an area noted for bald eagle sightings.


The PESR runs on the track of the South Branch Valley Railroad, which was established by the state of West Virginia in 1978 to operate a line abandoned by the B&O. Freight service on this line operates on weekdays and occasionally on weekends, so the line is free for excursions on most weekends.

In 1989 efforts began to attract an excursion operator, and service began in 1991.


The PESR operates a mixture of cars behind four early model diesels:

F7A 722 (ex-Bessemer and Lake Erie), was the only locomotive painted in PESR colors but recently repainted into a B&O livery similar to 6604.
F3Au 8016 (ex-Clinchfield, ex-CSXT) in Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad livery (on lease from the C&O Historical Society, Clifton Forge, VA). Currently stored in Spencer, NC awaiting a repaint into her original Clinchfield colors.
GP9 6604 (ex-B&O), one of the distinctive "torpedo boat" units built for passenger service and restored to its original livery.
GP9 6240 (ex C&O) in Chessie System livery.

Also of interest is the station, just south of Romney.

Our Trip

Once we all arrived and the train was opened, the First Class passengers went to the left and coach passengers went to the right. I led the way for the coach passengers and took my seat on the bench in the covered open air observation car. The open gondola car is only opened when the train goes through "The Trough" for great viewing of this unique passage.

Pre-trip views in Romney before we departed on time.

The train left and went by the Romney station sign.

More of the Potomac Eagle fleet of passenger cars.

Crossing the South Branch of the Potomac River.

The big open curve just after the river crossing.

West Virginia farming interests.

Before the US 50 crossing are more of the Potomac Eagle fleet.

The Nathaniel and Isaac Kuykendall House, built in 1797, pre-dating the Civil War, and on the National Register of Historic Places, four miles south of Romney.

Taking a slight curve.

Another abandoned stone house. Smile when you say "Damned Yankees!"

This is known as a "Gap" in geological terms.

A pleasant West Virginia scene.

The train took a slight curve.

The South Branch of the Potomac River.

The train took another slight curve.

The South Branch of the Potomac River.

Another of those pleasant West Virginia scenes. They stopped the train then annouced that the open air gondola car was now open and passengers flocked to this unique car, in which they would have to ride all the way through "The Trough".

A full and happy car of captive "Trough Riders". Now sit back and enjoy the trip through "The Trough".

Any trip on any day through "The Trough" is a great day in your life. We spotted three bald eagles and had the first one take off from a tree on our side of the river so you saw the bird's great wing span as it flew out of that tree. We crossed the Sycamore Bridge then stopped to let the passengers out of the open gondola car then backed across the bridge for the first photo runby of the day.

The planned photo location but the sun had not swung around enough.

The sunny side offered too tight of a view for my liking so I went back to the other side of the bridge and was at the waterline of the South Branch of the Potamac River.

Back up move one.

NRHS photo runby one.

NRHS photo runby 2. We reboarded and headed south.

Interesting rock strata.

Looking back towards "The Trough". Since I had already covered this track at West Virginia Rails in 2010, I will only be taking a few pictures.

Looking south towards Moorefield.

The rear of the train as we neared the community.

A lone caboose was here.

The rear of the train at Moorefield.

The South Branch of the Potomac River.

Taking a big open curve south of Moorefield.

This grain elevator is the largest shipper on this railroad. I went and got some lunch then had good converstions with several groups of passengers.

West Virginia is certainly a beautiful state.

The train took another curve.

We had reached Petersburg, where I had come to on the Virginia Rails 2010 train, but we kept going.

This track I had ridden behind Flagg Coal 75 at that event.

The train continued south down the track.

We reached the end of track, proving that you never know when you will get new rail mileage on a trip. They switched ends and Elizabeth and I worked on the next story as we travelled north. We worked to Petersburg and north of town we stopped for the next photo runbys of the trip.

The forward move one.

NRHS photo runby three.

Photo runby scene.

NRHS photo runby four. We all reboarded the train and we got back to work.

Later entering "The Trough"

Every trip I am amaze at the beauty of "The Trough".

The rafters out on the South Branch of the Potomac River. We returned to Romney at 4:40 PM and everyone had an opportunity to visit the gift shop before the buses departed at 5:30 PM and returned to the Ramada Inn. I had dinner of Buffalo Wings then worked on stories and Elizabeth took over while I packed my case since we are leaving for home tomorrow night.