Davis-Murdoch Stone Company

August 2023

Standard Soapstone Corporation

My suspicions about the abandoned grade I was following through the woods from Norwood toward Rucker Run proved to be correct.

Soapstone Shortlines, Garth G. Groff

Garth Groff, a librarian at University of Virgina's Special Collections, self published a small booklet on the history of soapstone in Virginia. In it, he makes brief note of the fact that Phoenix Stone was purchased by Standard. Standard had built the railroad to Norwood, and that railroad was standard gauge.

Railroad track hardware found near an abandoned quarry at Variety Mills, Va.

Investigating the old Standard Soapstone railroad grade was a lot of fun. I discovered a lot of old industrial sites and remains of the old track.

Boiler foundation built from dry laid soapstone slabs at Variety Mills, Va.

But the nagging question remained; had any of this been narrow gauge? Had some of it been dual gauge? Which parts? Had the quarry branches been narrow and just the line to Norwood been standard?

Concrete structure at boilerhouse site near Phoenix, Va.

What I needed was insight from a local resident. Someone with family ties to the Phoenix area who knew about the industrial history of the area.