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Potomac Eagle RR Trough trip

Adventurers in the Appalachia

My First trip on the Southwest Chief going to the 2018 NRHS Convention in Cumberland, Maryland

Chapter Twenty-two

 Potomac Eagle to Petersburg, WV 

August 10, 2018



Robin Bowers

Text and Photos by Author

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent.

Comments are appreciated

    Chris awoke me this morning so I would have time for breakfast in the dining room which was busy again with conventioneers anticipating another train excursion. Today the motor coaches will be boarding between 8 and 8:30am for the ride to Rommey, WV. But what is a convention without a roadblock? As Elizabeth was riding down in the elevator with nine other people, the car got stuck between floors. True story. The Cumberland Fire Department had to be called and they successfully rescued everyone. After the fire department left with many thanks, the buses arrived and everyone was able to board for the short 40 minute ride to Wappocomo Station in Rommey, WV.

Parking lot with view of the mountains of WV.

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. It is B&O caboose C2507, one of the seven prototype "wagon top" cabooses built by the railroad in 1940.

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 went to the coach car and took a seat for my belongings and would then find a seat in the open air observation car when it is allowed which is the best for viewing when the train goes through the "The Trough" to see the eagles, flying and in their nests.

Potomac Eagle awaiting for us to board.

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.

Open air observation car.

The train departed on time at 9:30am. and went by the Romney station sign.

We passed more of the Potomac Eagle fleet of passenger cars.

Crossing the South Branch of the Potomac River.

Before the US 50 crossing more of the Potomac Eagle Fleet of cars. Seems like I am crossing US 50 often when I am back East.

Nature reclaiming its territory in the ruins.

An old stone house near US 50.

Along the South Branch of the Potomac River.

During the Civil War, Romney changed hands between the North and South at least
  56 times. Incorporated in 1762 and one of the oldest settlements in West Virginia.

They stopped the train here and announced that the open air gondola car was now open. The passengers flocked to this unique car but they would all have to ride in it all the way through "The Trough", an area noted for bald eagle sightings.

Fellow conventioneers enjoying the WV countryside.

The South Branch of the Potomac River.

Happy boaters on the river giving us a wave.

Sycamore Bridge, site of our first runby today.

    Any trip on any day though "The Trough" is a great day in your life. Spotted were three bald eagles and had 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. The railroad has a regular three-hour Trough trip southbound through the Trough to Sycamore Bridge with no layover and is approximately 35 miles round-trip.

We crossed the Sycamore Bridge then stopped to let the passengers out of that open gondola car then backed across the bridge for the first photo runby of the day.

Photographers looking for their choice spot.

First runby going over the bridge.

At the end of the first pass and ready to return.

First return.


Waiting to get that perfect shot.

NRHS Photo runby 2. We reboared and headed south.

Living good in the woods.

Industrial building near Petersburg.

Shortly past Petersburg the train stopped and reversed direction and started our return trip back to the station. I think this is the third time this week going through this burg.

A nice home in Moorefield.

In a field for our photo runby.

After the runbys, we all reboarded the train and enjoyed the return trip through the Trough while I went exploring the other cars.


Bob was working as a doorman for the club car so I walked in for a chat and to look around. It was like going back to the golden days of railroad travel, a streamline look of the 1940's. After my visit I returned to my seat and enjoyed West Virginia's panorama.





    Approaching the station we came upon an assembly of sidecars or scooters. What a excellent way to travel through the canyon enjoying nature. We returned to Romney at 4:40pm and with time for everyone to shop the gift shop, we left at 5:30pm and returned to the Ramada. I had dinner, started to pack and then about 8pm I walked across the tracks to the Amtrak station to meet the Chicago bound Capitol Limited which we will be taking tomorrow night.  


The Capitol Limited at Cumberland station.

Tomorrow it will be our turn to board and go for a train ride.

After watching #29 leave, I walked back to the hotel and finished packing for checking out tomorrow and our last day in West Virginia and the Appalachia country.

Thanks for reading.

Next Chapter 23 - NRHS Everett RR to Petersburg, PA and then on to Chicago >>

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Text and Photos by Author

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