In the Northern Neck, there were at least 18 attempts to build a railroad from 1869 to 1920. Some of the plans originated from Richmond. Some wanted to use the waters around the Neck as a deep water port for coal from other states; other attempts were only on the Northern Neck itself.
The Northern Neck Railroad and Power Company was the last attempt in 1920. It would have been electrified by using streetcars or other engines powered by electricity. It would have been used for passenger and freight service. Freight would have hauled agricultural produce, timber, and fishing products such as oysters, crabs and menhaden fish. The railroad would have helped development on the Northern Neck.
The line was estimated to cost $5,000,000. Stock certificates were $100 per share. The principal officers were from the Norfolk, Virginia area.
The route would have included Fredericksburg, with a branch line going to the Potomac River in King George County to the Potomac River where passengers would take a ferry to Maryland and take another train to Baltimore and beyond. Another branch line went to Colonial Beach. The line continued to Montross, bypassing Warsaw, and continued to Rainswood (between Callao and Heathsville) where it split into two forks, with one branch going through Heathsville and ending in Reedville and the other branch going to Kilmarnock and ending at White Stone and Irvington.
The railroad never was built. One reason included opposition from the steamboat lines. Investors felt that the rates would be higher than the steamboats and therefore would not be profitable. The railroad felt that additional factors such as low population on the Northern Neck, lack of housing for transients to build the railroad, weather (i.e. harsh winters, humid weather, mosquitoes), and politics, made the project unfeasible. It was decided to curtail operations sometime in the later half of 1921. The charter was revoked in 1924 for failure to pay charter fees two years in a row. In 1997, work was begun on the Northern Neck Railroad model HO train display and operation. In 2003, it was moved to its current permanent location in the Pendleton Building, on the campus of the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum.
- story by Dennis Spillane
This layout features trains of three different scales all running at once.
The many dedicated volunteers of the Model Shop proudly show off the wonderful model train layout when visitors come to the Museum. The main layout is an HO scale presentation of the Northern Neck Railway, “The Railroad That Never Was.” This proposed railway was planned and designed but failed in its attempts to raise capital to make it a reality. A complete history of this railway is presented at the bottom section of this page. The main layout has trains that travel through detailed recreations of the towns it was planned to run through. The main feature is a wonderful recreation of the main street of Reedville, circa 1920s. Seeing this layout in action brightens the eyes of both young and old
Looking up Main Street
The Model Shop also features smaller layouts for other model railroad gauges, with hands-on items to attract the child in everyone. During our special train shows, all of our layouts are running and the sounds of the old steam engines echo through the room.
Like a real train hub, our model features three different trains running along as many tracks. New lighting (2020) makes the scene even more realistic.
A miniature train layout features a speedy little train, the engine that could!
Everyone is welcome to drop by and relive those days when trains first started fascinating you! Children and grandchildren of all ages will love the opportunity to see this collection of trains on the move. Also, a kid's scavenger hunt is held everyday. Our inventive volunteers have put hidden clues into their layout that require a sharp eye to spot. Can you find them all?
Times and dates for the annual train show are posted on the website in the fall, under events. Also, keep an eye out on our "What's Happening" tab, because there are special weekends when the trains also run!
The Model Shop also houses an extensive collection of trains of all kinds. Many predate World War II and are extremely rare
The Model Shop is also responsible for maintaining and restoring the Museum’s sailing vessel collection
Every year the enterprising volunteers at the Model Shop add something new to the layout. For example, in 2013 a new circus came to town, complete with a range of sound effects of the ringmaster calling out and a calliope playing
A view of the White Stone section of our layout
For 2014, a scale re-creation of the original Lillian Lumber mill was built, also complete with all the sounds of a working mill. Currently, the crew is building a brand new HO railroad layout that will depict the transition of railroad engines from the days of steam to the more reliable diesel locomotives
Lilian Lumber Wood Mill
Interested in joining this crew? Contact the Museum at 804-453-6529, or better yet, stop by the shop on Thursday mornings from 9am-12pm and say ‘hi!"