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Forgotten History

Pictured is M.D. Bailey Jr. posed on top of a locomotive engine #21 in 1915, Stuart. Bailey was the mayor of Stuart from September 1914 to June 1918. (Photo supplied by Mountain Top Families’ Facebook page.)

By Cory L. Higgs

A loud whistle ringing through the air, the sound of metal coming to a screeching halt, and the acrid smell of industry brought by locomotives filled the air in Stuart some 136 years ago. The sleepy town of Stuart once served as the last stop along the Danville-Western Railroad, nicked-named the Dick and Willie. The railway connected Stuart and Danville and stopped in small towns and factories along the way.

– Pictured is the Danville and Western Engine No. 20 experiencing some front wheel difficulties while on the turntable in Stuart. (Date unknown.) The table was located in the old parking lot of the Pannill Knitting Mill. (Photo supplied by the Patrick County Historical Museum.)

These iron giants barreled into Stuart in 1884, delivering goods, frigate, and some passengers along the way. The railway in Patrick County was functional from July 1884 to July 1942. Some segments in Henry County remained in use into more modern times, according to Greg Arens a spokesperson with the Patrick County Historical Museum. Arens said that the track was pulled up in 1942 to help supply steel to the war effort of WWII, removing any lasting mark of the Danville-Western line.

Shown is the last scheduled train departing Stuart as it headed to Danville on July 31, 1942. (Photo supplied by the Patrick County Historical Museum.)

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