Covington is a town in the western central part of the U.S. state of Virginia. One of the town’s attractions is Main Street Park. It is only six acres which sits along the Jackson River. It has a playground, a pool, a gazebo, a picnic shelter, and, very important, restrooms. Whenever you are in Covington, Virginia, make a visit to Main Street Park.
Some of you are saying, “This is a simple park just like any park you would see in any town. There is nothing very interesting about the park.”
Covington, Virginia is named after General Leonard Covington. He fought during the War of 1812 and became a war hero. He was also good friends with U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Through the years, growth in the town was slow. That changed in the 1890’s when there was a population boom. What caused the boom? The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway brought passenger service to the town, and it was the fourth largest freight paying station on the railway.
This brings us back to Main Street Park. As you arrive at the park, you see the park’s main attraction. What is the main attraction? The first thing you see is Number 701 of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. The ‘G-5’ class steam locomotive with the two ‘leading’ wheels (thirty-three inches in diameter) and eight ‘driving’ wheels (fifty inches in diameter) and the coal car, sixty-seven feet eight inches in length and fifteen feet and three inches tall, is fenced in and is under a shelter. It was built in 1911 in Richmond, Virginia by the American Locomotive Company (commonly known as ALCO) for the Hocking Valley Railway in Ohio, and it is the last surviving locomotive of that railroad after the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway took over the rail line. The total weight is 400,000 pounds. It could hold 20,000 pounds of coal and hold 7,500 gallons of water. The locomotive continued to pull passenger and freight trains until 1954, a total of 850,000 miles, and it was brought to Covington to be rehabbed and to be put on display for many generations to enjoy.
Today, passenger trains no longer stop in Covington, but the train station remains and is a museum owned by the Allegheny Historical Society. The main line still runs through Covington and is now under the ownership of CSX.
Main Street Park is located at the southwest end of Main Street. It is open during daylight hours. Main street crosses U.S. Routes 60 and 220. Parking is available.
If you are ever in Covington, Virginia, visit Main Street Park and see the Old 701.