The sign is being installed by NOVA Parks and will be outside of the retired train caboose along what is now the W&OD trail. The historic marker is a few minutes walk from Bluemont Junction Park’s parking lot at 601 N. Manchester Street.
First in operation in 1859, the W&OD was one of the most popular train lines in the region. It began in Alexandria, cut through Arlington, and terminated in what is today Loudoun County. The railroad closed in 1968, but not before helping to establish a number of Northern Virginia suburbs.
Like other forms of public transportation at the time, the trains were required by Virginia state law to be segregated. A number of these discriminatory laws in the Commonwealth were technically still on the books until early 2020.
As the new sign details, Black passengers (as well as Native Americans) were often forced to sit in the back of the train and curtains were sometimes installed to further separate passengers of different races. Passengers who didn’t adhere to this law were fined and arrested, much like Barbara Pope, who was arrested in Falls Church in 1906 for not sitting in a certain section.
“Knowing our past is important to understanding the present. Injustice and inequity were built into the law and part of everyday life not that long ago,” said Julius D. Spain, NAACP Arlington Branch President, in a press release. “The Arlington Chapter of the NAACP is pleased to partner with NOVA Parks to tell the story of how segregation was part of the rail service that is now the most popular trail in Virginia.”
While a temporary sign was first placed last week, a permanent marker is being installed this week, a NOVA Parks spokesperson tells ARLnow.
A formal unveiling is happening at 10 a.m. this Saturday (Feb. 19). Spain, NOVA Parks leaders, as well as some Arlington County Board members are expected to be in attendance.
“Efforts that educate about the impact of segregationist Jim Crow laws in our community are essential: They remind us of our responsibility to ensure that our parks, transit and other services are inclusive and equitable for the present, and for generations to come,” said County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “I’m honored to join NOVA Parks in recognizing the history of the W&OD railroad and renewing the commitment to make the W&OD trail a welcoming space for everyone.”
Similar signs are being placed along the W&OD trail in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties. Each sign cost about $1,165 to make and install.
After operating as a railroad for nearly a century, the W&OD was converted into a park and trail starting in 1974. Completed in 1988, the trail stretches about 45 miles from Shirlington to Purcellville.
Today, the W&OD is a popular thoroughfare for walkers, joggers, and bikers so much so that separate paths were created for cyclists and pedestrians in Falls Church. There’s talk of that happening for the trail’s Arlington section as well.
An alleged shooting threat briefly sent students practicing on a school field indoors tonight.
Good Wednesday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
(Updated at 6:35 p.m.) Black and Hispanic students remain more likely to be suspended from Arlington Public Schools than their peers, according to new data. Specifically, Black students make up…
Whether it’s T. Swift tickets, cash money, or a prime parking spot, most DMV-area residents agree that time is actually their most valuable currency. A universal experience of car owners…
At Generation Hope, we’re dedicated to supporting teen parents in college as they work toward earning their degrees. We are in need of caring child care volunteers for upcoming events on Saturday, October 21st (in Washington, DC), and Saturday, November 4th (in Arlington, VA). Join our growing volunteer community and support us at an event this fall!
At all of our events, we provide free onsite child care for the children of the teen parents we serve, creating a nurturing environment for the kiddos while their parents learn valuable life skills and build community.
If you enjoy working with children and are looking to make an immediate impact in your community, please visit https://www.generationhope.org/volunteer to learn more.
Join us for Arlington’s biggest civil rights & social justice event of the year. The banquet is back in person at the Arlington Campus of George Mason University.
Our keynote speaker this year is Symone Sanders from MSNBC and former Chief of Staff for Vice-President Kamala Harris.
The Master of Ceremonies is Joshua Cole, former state delegate, NAACP President, and local pastor.
Tickets/seating are limited. Purchase your ticket today! Sponsorship opportunities available.
Live standup comedy starring John F. O’Donnell (Comedy Central)
Friday, October 20
Headliner: John F. O’Donnell
John was a correspondent on the radical comedy news TV show, “Redacted Tonight,” for 5 years. Recently, he released his debut one-hour standup special,