East of the Blue Ridge

Chronicles of an On30 quarry railroad

February 2013

James River State Park

In visiting Nelson County over the years, I have enjoyed driving the winding roads and photographing the scenery. Ostensibly to do research for my model railroad, but primarily to just get away for a few hours.

Driving on a curving road is not the ideal way to study the lay of the land. Attention has to stay focused directly ahead almost constantly. If I do catch a glimpse of something interesting along the way, it is probably on private property with limited access. And the perspective of driving through the woods rarely provides an overall sweeping view of the landscape, which would come in very handy when planning the scenery for my layout.

These shortcomings are addressed beautifully by visiting
James River State Park. The park is directly across the river from the town of Norwood in Nelson County. It offers wide panoramic views of southern Nelson County and the old interchange between the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad and Standard Soapstone’s industrial railroad.

James River State Park is a large, rural, wooded area along the river that is open to the public. It is an excellent venue for taking the time to study the subtleties of the scenery. Other than the high bluff overlooking the confluence of the Tye and James rivers, there is nothing spectacular to be seen. It is just a quiet, remote place for contemplating the landscape, the river, and coal trains following the route of the old Kanawha Canal.