Along the O. Winston Link Trail

Since childhood I have always loved O. Winston Link’s photographs and sounds that he captured for his historic Norfolk & Western Railroad project 1955~1960. On a recent trip to Virginia I made time to visit some of the places made famous in his photographs: Rural Retreat and Green Cove.

The Rural Retreat station was almost lost and only survives because Link made one his most famous images and recordings there on Christmas Eve December 24, 1957, capturing one of the last Class J steam engine passenger trains passing through.

Rural Retreat Railroad Station July 2018
The Rural Retreat station was almost demolished but has been recently restored.

Green Cove is another station that has survived, this one on the former Abington Branch which is now the popular Virginia Creeper Trail. Link’s famous “Maud Bows to the Virginia Creeper” was photographed and recorded there in October 1956. This is how the station looks today, well-preserved by the Buchanan family who own the land and ran the station for generations.

If you have any interest in O. Winston Link’s work a trip to the O. Winston Link Museum and the nearby Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke Virginia is worth a detour. The drive to Green Cove in Damascus Virginia is a long winding one from Roanoke. The steam engines and tracks are long gone but the beauty of the country and the friendliness of the people are just like O. Winston Link found there long ago.