Richmond & Danville Railroad

Richmond & Danville Railroad (HM18VX)

Location: Danville, VA 24541
Country: United States of America

N 36° 35.127', W 79° 23.065'

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Development of the Railroad

By the outbreak of the Civil War, the Virginia General Assembly had chartered only eight railroads totaling 638 miles. The North, in contrast, had developed an immense network of railroads and canals. This transportation network reached into the heart of the trade centers, contributing to the political alignment of the Northwest to the industrial Northeast, and helping to isolate the South.

Whitmell P. Tunstall, a of Pittsylvania County, was not yet 28 years old when he stood to address his colleagues in the General Assembly in 1838, presenting his proposal for the construction of the Richmond & Danville Railroad. It took nine years for Tunstail to receive railroad charter after much stubborn opposition and ridicule. As the first president of the Richmond & Danville, he diligently guided the development of the road but unfortunately was never to see his dream come to life. Tunstall died of typhoid fever February 19, 1854, two years before the first engine entered Danville's rail yard.

In January 1848, Andrew Talcott was appointed chief engineer for the construction of the railroad. Amid disappointments, loss, ridicule, and economic constriction, the work had advanced slowly at times. Finally, in June 1856 a train of 12 passenger cars filled to capacity rumbled across the Dan River railroad bridge before a crowd of nearly 5,000 who gathered to celebrate the completion of the railroad line that would carve Danville's future.

By the opening of the Civil War, the future of the Richmond & Danville Railroad never seemed brighter?

Andrew Talcott: Engineer Extraordinaire

One of the leading engineers in North America during the antebellum era, Andrew Talcott superintended the construction of the Dismal Swamp Canal, Castle Calhoun Fort Monroe, repairs to the U.S. Mint, design of the Gosport Navy Yard's granite dry dock and construction of several railroads such as the Richmond & Danville. While at work at Fort Monroe, the young lieutenant Robert E. Lee worked as Talcott's assistant. Talcott developed the "Talcott Method" for determining terrestrial latitudes. His son, Charles, served as superintendent of the Richmond & Danville Railroad during the Civil War. Andrew Talcott died in Richmond in 1883.
HM NumberHM18VX
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, September 14th, 2014 at 3:10pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 644530 N 4050101
Decimal Degrees36.58545000, -79.38441667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 36° 35.127', W 79° 23.065'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds36° 35' 7.62" N, 79° 23' 3.90" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)434
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 401-519 Riverwalk Trail, Danville VA 24541, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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