The Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad Company was an
important institution within the City of Richmond, Virginia. It was the
first steam railroad to serve the capital city of the Commonwealth of
Virginia and the last railroad company to be operationally headquartered
in the city.
This book is not a corporate history of the RF&P. Instead, it is
more of the nature of a company scrapbook, with its focus upon the
railroad’s relationship with the city, and most importantly the men and
women who worked there.
A handful of nineteenth century Richmond business leaders, supported by
counterparts from Petersburg, a Baltimore produce and booze broker, and
ultimately the post-Civil War Philadelphia-based executive leadership of
the Pennsylvania Railroad, made the RF&P DC-Richmond rail corridor
the unique transportation infrastructure asset that it became.
But it was not always this way. Travelers within Richmond had their
choice of three different railroads, each having its own station and
none connecting with each other. When the Civil War began there was a
rush to lay tracks on the streets to rescue threatened railroad
By the turn of the twentieth century, RF&P had become a very busy
and financially successful railroad, in which the politicians of both
the Commonwealth of Virginia and of the city took pride and tended to
view as their own. Ultimately several thousands of people were employed
by RF&P in Richmond, and RF&P shares were regarded as among the
absolute best available.
Nevertheless, the RF&P’s relationship with its namesake city, and
with the Commonwealth of Virginia, was often adversarial. The State
Corporation Commission of Virginia and the City Council of Richmond
regulated and, to a great extent, controlled RF&P business and
operational decisions in matters large and small. The city’s regulations
and State’s transportation policy decisions often made it difficult for
RF&P to remain competitive with motor carriers who used publicly
funded highways at below cost user charges.
This book relates the story of the RF&P and the City of Richmond
throughout its existence and how the railroad and city became dependent
on one another over time.