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"The Iron Road of Franconia: A History of the RF&P Railroad in Fairfax County, Virginia"

Author: Nathaniel Lee

Publisher: CreateSpace (2016)


Winner of the 2017 Nan Netherton Award for Best Historical Work awarded by the Fairfax County History Commission.


For nearly 150 years, a great iron road has snaked its way through the Franconia community. This railroad was born in the era of the legendary railroad tycoons, and its history weaves a tale of political intrigue in the Reconstruction Era. Started in 1872, this railroad went by many names over the next century including the Alexandria and Fredericksburg Railway, the Washington Southern Railway and the company recalled fondly by many: the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad. Today the railroad is owned by CSX. Whatever its name, this railroad tied the Franconia community together, gave it a lasting identity and a doorstep to the nation.


Following the Civil War, railroads around the country were entering a golden age. The world's largest railroad, the Pennsylvania Railroad, had its eye on the South. Its visionary founders, John Thomson and Thomas Scott wanted a way into the South and its markets by any means necessary, and the Alexandria and Fredericksburg Railway offered them just that chance. This hastily built railroad was held together sometimes by only a sheer force of will and a few wood planks. Phineas Barnum, founder of the Ringling Brothers Circus, even exclaimed, "I have been all over the United States, but this is the first railroad I ever saw tied to a tree!"


Yet for its humble beginnings, the Alexandria and Fredericksburg Railway would grow over the next century into one of the most important railway corridors on the East Coast. "The Iron Road of Franconia" is a community-focused book that documents the many flag stops that dotted the countryside throughout the county. These stops came and went over the years, but were integral in developing Franconia's economy and future development sites. Some of the stops found were previously unknown to anyone, their foundations forgotten, left to lie in the woods. This book also documents some of the strange yet memorable occurrences on the rails over the years, including wrecks, robberies and explosions!




This award winning railroad history can now be yours!

  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 200 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1530919584
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1530919581
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches

The Iron Road of Franconia

SKU: IRF9584
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