The Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad (RF&P) ran from Richmond to Washington, D.C. With only 113 miles of track, it was one of the shortest in the nation but it was the link between the North and the South. Train service existed 157 years from 1834-1991.
There were many independent railroads which had agreements with the RF&P. In conjunction with these lines, RF&P provided continuous service from New York to Florida. Sleeper cars were available as early as 1867. An electric lighted steam-heated train was introduced in 1888.
The World War II era saw the biggest expansion of RF&P's rail service because of military use at a series of training facilities along the route. In 1941, Fort Belvoir and the Marine Corp at Quantico expanded in size. In Caroline County, the Army purchased 80,000 acres for use as the A.P. Hill Military Reserve. The railroad also expanded to link the Naval Proving grounds at Dahlgren.
In the post war era, the rail had problems competing with the ever increasing popularity of the automobile and the expansion of the federally funded interstate highway system. Rail service was also reduced by the development of passenger service on jet aircraft. The loss of contracts with the federal government to carry mail eliminated a number of marginal profit-making carriers by the l960s.