Romancing the Railroad:
Part 1: How Bluemont Citizens Brought the Railway to Bluemont in 1900

Many know that the railroad came to Snickersville in 1900, reportedly making its initial run onthe first Independence Day of the Twentieth Century.  Many also know that at the suggestion of the railway company, and in the hope that a more upscale name might draw a stronger trade of summer visitors, the people of Snickersville acquiesced in changing the village’s name to “Bluemont.”

Many people know that story.  But few know the story of what the citizens of Snickersville did for themselves to make the railway extension happen.  They notified the public, organized themselves to conduct business, subscribed and collected money to construct the depot, and handled legal considerations around obtaining the right of way and adjusting “damages.”  All these actions helped make the railway extension from Round Hill to Bluemont become a reality.

Volney Osburn (December 19, 1852 – May 30, 1942) played a leading role in this citizen effort.  Son of Phineas Osburn and Elizabeth Ann Hope, the 1870 Census finds Volney at age 17, living in Loudoun County with his father and three younger brothers and sisters.  Volney married Virginia Humphrey (January 24, 1878) and they had one child, Pearl (born October 28, 1878).

In addition to being a farmer who specialized in raising Tamworth hogs, and who eagerly wanted a railroad extension to Snickersville so he could more easily ship them, Volney Osburn had acted as executor of many estates.  His farm lay in the planned path of the tracks.  He understood legal papers and was in the habit of carefully saving his business records.  His papers from the turn of the century have come down through the family to this day.


Judy Anderson, great-grandaughter of Volney Osborn, grew up in Bluemont.  She and her husband Bud Anderson now live just outside Bluemont Village, off Route 7, on the same farm Volney purchased in 1898.  On October 24, 1997 this farm and house were awarded a Virginia Century Farm award in recognition that the farm has been continuously farmed by the same family for 100 years.

Judy and Bud Anderson graciously lent these documents so they could be transcribed, scanned, and digitized, and provided  insights of their own on the story.