A Railroader’s Story of Manassas, Virginia

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When you ask most people about what is famous about what is so famous about the city of Manassas, Virginia, what do you think their answer would be?  Most of the time, the answer will be the two major battles of the Civil War.  Besides, it was in the first battle where a Confederate general named Thomas Jackson earned the name ‘Stonewall Jackson’.  The Manassas National Battlefield is also the most visited historic site in Manassas.  What most people do not know is how Manassas came to be.

The city was originally called Manassas Junction.  It was built around the junction of two railroads: the Alexandria and Orange and the Manassas Gap Railroad.  (These routes are now owned by Norfolk Southern.)  It was also here in Manassas where the railroad was first used in military action.  General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson boarded his troops on a train in what is now Delaplane, Virginia, and they rode the train de-boarding in Manassas, and they marched north to the battlefield.  So you can say that the railroad aided Jackson’s victory in the Battle of First Manassas and that the Manassas National Battlefield owes its popularity to the railroad as well.

Today, you can visit the town that was built around the railroad.  You can walk through the Old Town and eat at one of the many good restaurants or shop at one of the stores.  You can go to the rail line and see the trains roll by.  You can go inside the old depot and get tourist information and see a few artifacts from the railroad.  Also, on the first Saturday in June, the city of Manassas hosts ‘Railroad Days’ celebrating the city’s railroad heritage.

The city of Manassas, Virginia is thirty miles from Washington D.C.  The Old Town is accessible from I-66 by going south on Virginia Route 28 and by Virginia Business Route 234.  There is plenty of parking.  While you are there, you can take a tour of the Battlefield our you can visit the Manassas Museum, and you can see much of the local arts at the Arts Center at the Candy Factory.  You can learn more at www.VisitManassas.org.

Manassas, a city with a historic heart and a modern beat.

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