By William “Skip” Deegans
This circa 1965 photo shows the North Caldwell depot on the Greenbrier Division, a branch line of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O). Construction of the line began in 1899, and it ran from Ronceverte to Winterburn in Pocahontas County, a distance of 105 miles. The line principally serviced industries along the Greenbrier River- saw mills, quarries, and tanneries. It also provided passenger service until 1958. A passenger leaving Ronceverte at 8:25 in the morning would reach Winterburn at 12:50 in the afternoon. Freight service was discontinued in 1978, and the tracks were removed in 1979. The Caldwell depot was moved a short distance and is now part of RBS.
When the line was abandoned, Mark Hankins, a Lewisburg resident, led a movement to persuade the C&O to donate the right-of-way from Caldwell to Cass for a rail-to-trail. Hankins had worked for the C&O for 50 years, and his father had been an engineer on the Greenbrier Division. The State took possession of the right-of-way and incorporated the trail into its state park system. The trail opened in 1980, and just recently the U. S. Department of Interior designated it as a National Recreation Trail.
Sources: The Durbin Route: The Greenbrier Division of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, Pocahontas Times, Roanoke Times.