Lincoln Preservation Foundation
Manassas Gap Railroad Bed
Historical Dates: 1853 - 1857
Threat Level: High
Location: See maps
In March 1853, construction began. The route extended 27 miles, from Centreville to Purcellville. Work was discontinued in 1857. The bed stretches through the Lincoln Loop, and crosses Sands Road near the Lincoln Oak. Parts of the Loudoun branch of the Manassas Gap Railroad survive here, and the historical marker is 100 feet north of the site.
Sections of the existing railroad bed remains intact through private property from Sands Road and points East toward Mt. Gilead. Some of the historically significant and impressive stretches are in threatened areas in and around what is known as “Irishman's Field”. Already, a 200 acre development at the former Frazer Farm (now known as Fawn Meadow) and the Southern Collector Road in Purcellville are infringing upon portions of the remaining railroad beds. A historical marker on Sands Road is a lonely reminder of this area’s former history, placed, incongruously, in the backyard of a new home, some 100 feet north of the actual location of the site.
The Unfinished Loudoun Branch was a planned extension of the Manassas Gap Railroad. Chartered in 1850, the railroad was planned to link merchants of, urban markets and the port of Alexandria with the farmers of Loudoun Valley which was the breadbasket of Loudoun County.
The planned section of the Manassas Gap railroad, which was never completed, began at a point near Centerville, in Fairfax County, where the existing Manassas Gap Railroad connected with the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. The Loudoun Branch was to continue in a northwest direction, cutting through the Mount Gilead of Catoctin Mountain to reach the heart of Loudoun Valley. Following the curves of this landscape, gently winding its way through the fields of Western Loudoun, it entered Lincoln on a path to Purcellville. The Loudoun Branch was expected to eventually extend to Harpers Ferry to intersect with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.