The Washington Sub is the middle leg of the old C&O main line through Charlottesville. Most through traffic has been re-routed on the James River line, except for westbound empty trains. This route once hosted the Washington and Richmond/Norfolk sections of the C&O's name trains, such as the FFV, the George Washington and the Sportsman. In addition to these passenger trains, the line hosted through manifest freight service to Washington via the Southern Railway via rights that the C&O purchased in 1890. These trackage rights have lapsed. In 1890 the C&O also leased the old Orange and Alexandria line between Gordonsville and Orange, after the Southern constructed its own line between Orange and Charlottesville.
The Washington Subdivision runs from the connection with the NS at Orange, down
to the junction with the Piedmont Subdivision at Gordonsville. The connection
at Gordonsville is made with a wye, in which a tower, G Tower, still stands. See Map of Gordonsville. Gordonsville has been an important rail junction since the 1850s when the Orange and Alexandria made a connection here with the Virginia Central.
From Gordonsville, the Washington Sub continues on to Charlottesville, where it ends in a small yard, just east of the old C&O station. Just east of Charlottesville there are two long bridges at the Rivanna River and at the Woolen Mills.
The line is CTC controlled and mostly jointed rail. There are controlled
sidings at South Orange (out of service), Gordonsville, Lindsay and Massie. There are no talking detectors on the line.
The line is accessible from grade crossings between Orange and Shadwell. There are road overpasses at Cobham, Keswick and Shadwell. West of Shadwell the line is inaccessible.
The Washington Sub hosts Amtrak's Cardinal
(P050/P051) thrice weekly. A Doswell-based local (H756/H757) works the line west to Charlottesville on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. The crew usually has an 8AM call in Doswell. This train will turn in Charlottesville and run east, usually the next day, after the crew has had their rest. Often times this train will take an hour or two switching Klockner
Pentaplast, a large shipper west of Gordonsville. Typically six to eight
westbound empty coal and grain trains are
routed over the line daily, but this can vary widely. Meets between #50 and westbound empties are occasionally scheduled for the siding at Massie.
(1) Orange: Doswell local, H757, works the tie plant. October 1996.
(2) Gordonsville: H757, the Doswell local, led by GP38-2 #2119 enters the siding at Gordonsville. October 1996.
(3) Gordonsville: Local meets Amtrak #50. July 1996.
(4) Gordonsville: H757 passing the signal at the east end of Gordonsville passing siding.
(5) Gordonsville: H756, the Charlottesville to Doswell local job, passing the signal at the Gordonsville freight house. Train is lead by slug 2233. January 1997.
(6) Gordonsville: Westbound empty coal train passes the signal cantilever at High Street. CSXT C40-9W 7892 heads the four-unit lashup. January 1997.
(7) Lindsay: C40-8W #7901 leads a set of empties at the east end of Lindsay. March 1997.
(8) Charlottesville Yard: Remnants of CSX yard in Charlottesville. Picture taken during short-lived Virginia Central steam service, October 1993. Amtrak #50 is passing through.
(9) Charlottesville Yard: CSX maintenance-of-way pumpkin GP39 #9654 works the yard. The yard's 300-ton Fairbanks Morse coaling tower stands watch over the scene. March 1997.