The Virginian was conceived, built, and paid for by one man, Henry Huttleston Rogers. Mr. Rogers had many business interests, including the Smokeless Coal regions of West Virginia. He formed a close alliance with Col. William Page, who acquired the Deepwater Railway in 1898. When the two entrepeneurs could not obtain favorable coal shipping rates from either the C&O or the N&W, Rogers decided to take matters into his own hands. He incorporated the Tidewater Railway in 1902 and placed it under Col. Page’s leadership. Col. Page, with Roger’s secret backing, had the Deepwater chartered to the West Virginia border in 1902. He then had the Tidewater chartered to the Virginia border in 1904. Before the C&O and the N&W were aware of it, construction was well on its way, with the completion in April of 1909. Unfortunately, Mr. Rogers only had one trip over the entire route when he died in May of 1909. To this day, no one knows how much Mr. Rogers invested to build this railroad, but it is estimated to be about $40 million in 1909 dollars!
The Virginian ceased to exist December, 1959 when it was “merged” into the Norfolk & Western Railroad, which is now the Norfolk Southern (NS). However, much of the former Virginian main line is still used by the NS, primarily because of it’s gentler grades heading east out of the coal fields. ALL of the trackage modeled by the Deepwater District is still intact and is heavily used by NS, primarily as a bridge route to the midwest.
Interesting thought: If the N&W had been merged into the Virginian, one of the big 4 Class I railroads would probably be the VS, not NS.