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World’s Biggest Locomotive in 1947 at the C&O Station

On December 2, 1947, hundreds flocked to the C & O station to see one of the new super streamlined steam turbine electric locomotives which would pull forthcoming high-speed luxury trains. Visitors were greeted at the station by Miss Mary Butler, one of the first hostesses to enter the employ of the C & O. This train, shown in top photo, was the first coal-burning steam turbine-electric locomotive ever built and the largest passenger locomotive in the world, at the time.

The train was on display on one of the tracks just below the Belmont viaduct. The Belmont Bridge, shown below, connected downtown to the Belmont neighborhood at 7th Street until that bridge was torn down in 1962 and the new bridge connected to 9th Street.

Rip Payne, who served as a train detective in the 1940s, was a train enthusiast all his life. During the ‘40s and ‘50s, Charlottesville had two very busy train stations serving both passengers and freight. Rip used his extensive connections to the railroad to get his children and grandchildren rides on the caboose. They also enjoyed watching the circus unload its train below the Belmont Bridge on the way to the circus grounds above the Rivanna River off Free Bridge Road.



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