Why Alexandria's portion was not incorporated into the trail by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) is a mystery to your scribe. I was unable to find an explanation in Herb Harwood's "Rails to the Blue Ridge" (2000) or Ames Williams's "Washington & Old Dominion Railroad" (1989).
Following its abandonment in 1968 and dismantling the following year, most of the W&OD right-of-way was acquired by Virginia Electric Power (VEPCO) for its high-voltage transmission lines. In 1977, however, NVRPA purchased the land underneath the power lines for use as parkland--specifically, as a trail. Construction of the trail began, one section at a time, until the last segment was completed (to Purcellville) in 1988.
Alexandria's approximately two-mile-long right-of-way, alas, was sold off in bits and pieces to commercial interests. Here is what remains today, the route marked with a dashed red line, and the visible portions highlighted in yellow:
Alright, let's go for a walk to see what we can find. We begin at the corner of US 1 and East Custis Avenue, anchored by the Del Ray Animal Hospital. To the right in the photo below is Potomac Yard. The W&OD once began at a shop building on the east side of the yard, crossed westbound above the yard tracks on a "viaduct" (trestle), then continued through the neighborhoods of northern Alexandria until it reached Arlington county on the opposite side of Four Mile Run.
|Now atop the fill, let us turn around facing east and pause for a moment to imagine the scene before the W&OD went bankrupt, before busy Potomac Yard was removed. Sigh.|
|We've turned around and are facing east again for a quick look from whence we came before entering the spot with two sidings once known as "Alexandria Junction."|
|Westward view at Alexandria Junction.|
|Eastward view from the opposite (west) end of Alexandria Junction.|
|A closer look (westward) toward Commonwealth Avenue, where the W&OD crossed above the streetcar line.|
|Standing across Commonwealth Avenue on its west side, we're looking back eastward toward what remains of the W&OD earthen fill. Behind us stands an office park where the railroad once ran.|
|The bridge support up close. Let's scamper up the slope and look around.|
|Here's the east-facing view from the top of the bridge support. The automobile on the hill in the distant rear of the picture marks where we stood to photograph the right-of-way behind the strip mall (three photos back).|
|We continue walking westward, paralleling West Glebe Road about one-half block north of us. Noting the slope on the left, it's plain this was once right-of-way.|
|That same right-of-way location from sidewalk level.|
|We've now walked to the west end of that high, level portion of the W&OD (right) and are facing east. That's West Glebe Road--during rush hour.|
|And here we conclude our walk through Alexandria's remnants of the W&OD. We're facing west along Four Mile Run toward I-395 (Shirley Highway) and the Shirlington section of Arlington county--where the paved W&OD trail begins.|