The Washington and Old Dominion Railroad right-of-way was purchased from the railroad by Virginia Power after the Railroad ceased operations in 1968. In 1982, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority purchased the 100 foot wide, 45 mile long property to create the W&OD Trail.
Today the W&OD Trail is the most frequently used of all NVRPA trails, with millions of users each year. According to NVRPA statistics, amateur naturalists have identified 450 wildflowers and more than 100 species of birds along the trail.
The W&OD Trail is the setting for the Wheelchair Race of Champions each fall. This 53 mile ultra-marathon begins in Purcellville, VA and ends in Washington, DC. It attracts the nation's top wheelchair athletes.
W&OD Trail takes its name from the railroad whose trains ran along the right-of-way from 1859 until 1968. The entrepreneurs who founded the rail line dreamed of bringing coal and other riches from the Appalachians to the Port of Alexandria, but those dreams were never fully realized.
During the Civil War, the railroad was nearly destroyed. After the war, it was slowly rebuilt and then saw a series of changes of ownership and objectives. The heyday of the W&OD came early in the 20th Century providing service three times daily from Alexandria to Falls Church, Leesburg and Purcellville, with stops at Dunn Loring, Hunter Station and Paeonian Springs.
W&OD Trail was built in sections until its completion to Purcellville in 1988. Trail users today enjoy 45 miles of asphalt trail and 32.5 miles of crushed stone and dirt bridle paths. In 1987, the W&OD was designated a National Recreation Trail by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
For online maps and other neat information about W&OD Trail, visit the Friends of the Washington and Old Dominion Trail website at www.wodfriends.org.
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