When you hear about the town of Manassas in the U.S. state of Virginia, the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind is the American Civil War. Manassas is the only location where two major battles of the war took place. As the two wars made Manassas famous, it was not what originally built the town. What built the town was something that was a great aid to a Confederate General named Thomas Jackson. It aided him to ‘stand like a stone wall’. What helped him make that stand? What was a great help was the railroad. General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson and his troops arrived in what is now Old Manassas. It was the first time in the history of the United States of America where the railroad was used for warfare, and it brought the troops to town where they march five miles to the battle. Yes, Manassas was established as Manassas Junction with the junction of the Manassas Gap Railroad and the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. The junction still remains, but it is now under the ownership of the Norfolk Southern Railway. The first military railroad in the nation also began in Manassas going north to Centreville, Virginia, but the railroad was short lived. On the first Saturday of June, Manassas celebrates its railroad heritage with a festival.
The old train station in Old Town Manassas was built in 1914. It still is an active train station today with regular Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express service and a waiting room for passengers. It also houses the town visitor center and has a small museum with a few artifacts. You can even stand in the old ticket masters window and get the same view as the ticket master did. The visitor center and museum are open from 9:00am to 5:00pm daily, and admission is free.
Next time you are in Manassas, Virginia, do not think of it as just a battle town but as a town established by the railroad that continues to keep its railroad heritage alive.