Via The Library of Congress, the Potomac Yard railyard in its heyday was one of the busiest railyards in the Eastern United States, processing thousands of cars daily. The booming “Pot Yard” attracted thousands of workers, who largely settled in the areas of Del Ray and St. Elmo. These subdivisions incorporated as the town of Potomac in 1908, but were then annexed by the City of Alexandria in 1930. The Penn Central segment of the famous Tropicana Juice Train operated from here and the site reached capacity in 1937.
After the corporate mergers of the former separate railroad companies that used the yard to interchange freight cars, the need for Potomac Yard greatly diminished. It was determined by the Richmond Frederick & Potomac Railroad (RF&P) that the land was worth more than the need for yard switching. The Pennsylvania Railroad’s (PRR) old catenary was dismantled in the 1980s. The facility was identified as a toxic waste site in 1987. The RF&P finally decommissioned it in 1989. Plans for rehabilitation and redevelopment of the land have been a source of intense debate since then.
What are your memories of the Potomac Yard railyards?