The Ivy Depot was located on Ivy Depot Road (Rt. 786) behind the current Ivy Post Office. Prior to 1859, the rail stop was known as Woodville Depot, named after the local Wood family. The site of the depot was where one of Virginia’s most important routes, the Three Notch’d Road, later the Rockfish Gap Turnpike, intersected with another north/south road and the where the new rail line crossed the Turnpike.
The history of the railroad that came to bisect Albemarle County had its beginnings as the Louisa Railroad in 1836. As the line was extended westward and because it no longer lay primarily within the confines of Louisa County, it was renamed the Virginia Central Railroad in 1850. By 1852, the railroad was extended through Charlottesville to Mechum’s River. Even before the railroad reached what is now Ivy, the Blue Ridge Railroad was chartered as a state enterprise to construct a railroad over and through the Blue Ridge Mountains beginning at Mechum’s River and ending in Waynesboro. The Virginia Central was given rights to the use of this railroad, and the first train entered the Valley of Virginia on April 1, 1854. The extension of this rail service stimulated the economic development of the Ivy area with the construction of a depot in 1851 and a new store across the road which still stands.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Virginia Central Railroad had 192 miles of main line between Richmond and Covington. During the Civil War this route became one of the Confederacy’s most important lines, carrying food from the Shenandoah region to Richmond, and ferrying troops and supplies back and forth as the campaigns surrounded its tracks frequently. As a result, it suffered much damage at the hands of Federal troops intent on disrupting its operations such that when General Sheridan and his troops stopped at Ivy Depot enroute from the Shenandoah Valley to Charlottesville on March 2-3, 1865, Sheridan ordered the destruction of the depot.
The destroyed station was replaced with a simple one-story brick building measuring 20 by 50 feet. It featured a gabled roof with overhanging eaves and a storage loft above the first floor. The south face had two broad loading doors.
The north elevation, which faced the tracks, had one wide opening for loading freight and baggage, and one projecting wooden bay opening from the passenger waiting room. Passenger entry was at the west gable end through one of two doors set side-by-side. A wide porch protected the entrance for some time. It was replaced by a simple shed-roofed hood over the doors. Window openings in the building had segmental arched heads.
In 1868 the Virginia Central Railroad was merged with the Covington and Ohio Railroad to form the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. In 1878 the company reorganized to become the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. Virginia deeded over the Blue Ridge Railroad to the new C&O in 1869. For most of its history traffic through Ivy was primarily passengers and agricultural products and remained very important to the C&O. The height of usage occurred before and during the World War II. Even into the 1950’s the railroad was a significant local employer. Slowly, however, competition from automobiles, trucks, and planes cut into the C&O’s business. By 1970, only Charlottesville remained on the public passenger time tables.
During the first half of the 1930s the present US Route 250 was laid out through the Ivy area shifting traffic away from the depot. Eventually, the ability to cross the railroad at the depot was restricted to pedestrians using a footbridge. In Ivy Depot and many communities like it, the focus of transportation and economics was shifting away from railways and depots. Even the change in the name of the Post Office from Ivy Depot to Ivy, which occurred in 1951, illustrates this shift in focus.
The construction of new tourist lodgings during the period, including the Siesta Motor Lodge (now the Ivy Commons Shops and Duner’s Restaurant) is further evidence of this change.
The Ivy Depot stood until 1977 when it was demolished by the C&O. Much of the material was used to construct a house immediately below the depot site.