Norfolk & Western train on the bypass near Collier Yard

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Norfolk & Western train on the bypass near Collier Yard

Most railfans in central Virginia know about Collier Yard just south of Petersburg. After the merger between the Atlantic Coast Line and the Seaboard Air Line in 1967, the SCL abandoned pieces of the SAL south of downtown Petersburg and built a new yard and connecting track to bring SAL trains over to the former ACL trackage. The new yard became home base for a couple locals. At the north end of the yard the ACL bridged over the N&W. The N&W built a bypass around Petersburg to avoid the steep grades dropping down into downtown. The bypass went through a deep cut to get under the ACL and then went over the SAL about a mile to the west. Most N&W freight trains used the bypass while passenger trains used the original line to access the downtown station. There was quite a bit of interchange between the N&W, SAL and ACL. This new yard improved the interchange of this traffic. In July 1974 I made a trip up to Petersburg to check out the action. It was a slow day with only a couple trains south of Petersburg. Finally about three in the afternoon an empty coal train went by. N&W engine 956 and two other geeps pull about two hundred empty hoppers back to the coal mines in West Virginia. The train will soon be going under the old ACL main line north of Collier Yard. Disk 124