Hermitage Yard Richmond VA

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I would like information on the SAL Hermitage yard, pictures, books, in or out of print. Any small bit of info would be appreciated as I can find nothing regarding the north end of the SAL. Thanks Michael

-- Michael Meagher (Mgmeagher5@aol.com), June 02, 1999


Micheal, the book "All Lines North of Raleigh" has nice coverage of Hermitage Yard. Unfortunately it's out of print but somebody out there might have a copy available for you. William Griffin's book on the SAL (which in my opinion is the best SAL picture book on the market today) also has some good shots of Hermitage. The bottom line about Hermitage is that it was a pretty small yard...smaller than Raleigh. SAL handed off much of its traffic to RF&P for forwarding to northeastern markets. Richmond was the site of three actice SAL yards; South Yard (later called "South Richmond" Yard in the SCL years), Brown Street Yard, and Hermitage Yard. South Yard was built during WWII to better serve all the industries and mills just south of the James River. It still exists pretty much as built and many of the old warehouses and factories are still in place, including an original SAL warehouse on Hull Street. At the northern end of South Yard, just before the SAL crossed the river into Richmond proper, there was a grade crossing with a SRR branchline, and this junction was known as "Rocket's Junction" by SAL men. Continuing north, the SAL crossed the James on a long deck girder bridge and then passed under the C&O James River Line and below another Southern branch...the famous "Triple Crossing". Then came Main Street Station, and then came Brown Street Yard. Brown Street Yard was installed to interchange with the C&O. C&Os 17th Street Yard was located adjacent to Brown Street, and there was a lot of interchange there for many, many years. The C&O's two lines to the west, the Mountain line and the James River Line, met at Richmond, and C&O maintained a big yard (called Fulton Yard) on the east side of town. And then, of course, there's Hermitage. Since a lot of traffic got dropped off at South Yard and Brown Street, and since a lot of traffic was forwarded to Acca Yard on the RF&P, Hermitage was small and stayed small for it's whole life. Adjacent to Hermitagewere four or five mainline tracks which connected Acca with the ACL's line at AY Tower to route passenger trains to and from Broad Street Station. These mainline tracks were part of a company called the Richmond Terminal Rwy, whose job was to forward ACL, RF&P, N&W, and later SAL trains to and from Broad Street Station. Hermitage maintained SAL's engines and also included a car repair facility on the mainline just south of the yard in its own separate facility location. To my knowledge, there were no engine facilities ever on the SAL at Brown Street although the C&O had an engine house at 17th Street. South Yard was only ever a yard with no facilities of any kind. During the war years and after, Richmond was a wild place with lots of trains on all the roads and lots of action in the yards. Hope this helps! JG

-- John Golden (Golden1014@yahoo.com), December 23, 1999.

The north end of Hermitage terminated at the south end of RF&P's Acca thru an interlocking called 'AY'. The RF&P had a north & south leg to the wye that formed AY. These line joined on the west side of the main to form a double track main called the West Side Belt that was RF&P ownership to Pier 5 in the middle of the James River; from that point south the belt went to 'FA' Tower where it joined the origional ACL Main from Richmond south.

AY was a real HOT SPOT about 10:30AM when the SAL & ACL were in competition for the piggyback traffic to the south. The RF&P came in then with train #175 solid Truc Train equipment from Pot Yard. The SAL always had a beautiful matched set of new GP-40's sitting on the Hermitage Lead waiting for the RF&P power to cut off and return to Bryan Park; as soon as the RF&P would clear the SAL woul snatch the first half of this train that was theirs and pull it into Hermitage to cab it and go south as the RAZORBACK. All this time we on the ACL would be sitting around on the north leg of the wye at 'AY' and as soon as the SAL would clear we would back down with an assortment of old F units maybe a new GE six-axle in the middle followed by as E-7 'B' unit for power. How we would envy those SAL GP-40's because we knew we had our work cut out for us trying to keep up the schedule on the north end with #175. Keeping those units 'on the line' during hot summer days was a challange. All this activity at 'AY' between the three roads occured usually about late morning and lasted all of about 20 minutes before it was all over and the race south begun.

-- JR Morton (morton@nb.net), August 03, 1999.

When I first applied for my job on the SCL at the Hermitage Yard office building in the early 1970s, it was very much as it had been since it was first activated after the turn of the century when the SAL was extended from Main Street Station to Hermitage in order to reach the RF&P. When I actually got my job in 1977, all structures had been razed and only yard tracks 1-5 remained. Between 1977-79 we switched numerous industries on the yard's outskirts, primarily at night because of all the street running necessary. By the time I returned to Richmond after attending engineer's school in Rocky Mount, NC at the end of 1980, only #1 yard track remained and there were no industrial spurs left. The track that is now (heavily) used to access Acca Yard through old Hermitage was not the original main line, but #1 yard track, although if you follow it south under the Boulevard Bridge, past the old rip yard and running repair shop area, it connects with the former SAL S-Line main at the interlocking known as Hermitage Road on the CSX Bellwood Subdivision. For some reason, the main was abandoned, but not taken up as I remember in 1977--possibly because it was too close to the wooden retaining wall that seperated it from the RF&P main line tracks. The rear of the Greyhound bus station oddly enough sits just about on the spot where the turntable pit once was.

-- Doug Riddell (railroaddoug@erols.com), June 04, 1999.

Robert Yanosey's "Tidewater Triangle" has some pictures of yard engines at Hermitage. You may be able to get some idea of what it looked like from those. Most of Hermitage is gone now; it still has the "main" tracks in place, but all others are gone.

-- Alston Heggie (apheggie@qtsrail.com), June 03, 1999.

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