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The Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society is a 501c3 non-profit organization chartered in West Virginia, with the principal office in Clifton Forge, Virginia.

It is the most active of over 60 organizations in the country devoted to history of particular railroads. The C&OHS is the only entity of its type with a paid staff, and, as such, it is looked on as one of the premier railroad history resources, with contacts well beyond the railroad interests that were its origins.

The Society maintains about 2,300 members in 46 states and seven countries. It publishes a bi-monthly, 48-page magazine, at least five books per year, three annual calendars and much other printed matter.

It has one of the largest railroad archives regularly open to the public, consisting of over 150,000 photos, 250,000-plus drawings, 3,000 linear feet of documents dealing with the C&O Railway’s history in eight states, as well as a full library of over 1,000 volumes.

Chessie System Railroads donated much of C&O’s surplus engineering and mechanical material formerly housed in Huntington with consolidation of operations at Jacksonville during the creation of CSX in the early 1980s.

A museum with former C&O Railway locomotives and cars, as well as historical artifacts/displays, also is located at Clifton Forge (easily accessed via Interstate 64). It is widely acknowledged as a state-of-the art small museum that receives consistently high marks from visitors.

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Because the C&OHS is fully staffed and can answer inquiries, it has recently helped such entities as the City of Beckley, West Virginia University, New River Gorge National Park, Smithsonian Institution, Brookings Institution, Federal Reserve System, U.S. Postal Service, BBC, A&E, History Channel, PBS, and even the United Nations.

Inquiries are answered about any railroad subject.

The Society’s main purpose is to explain how railroad technology created the modern technological/industrial world in which we live. The C&O Railway is used as an example to educate about the larger American railway experience.

Interested persons can contact the C&OHS at 540-862-2210 weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or via email at The websites are: (history/archives), (sales) and itage (museum).

Memberships and donations help C&OHS do this preservation work and are welcome.

Greenbrier County native Thomas W. Dixon Jr., now of Lynchburg, Virginia, founded the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society in Alderson in 1969. He is also the chief historian for the organization.

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