By John Cowgill
Most of us know about Fredericksburg as that town you pass driving along I-95. Some of us may have heard about its historic district, which includes the home of Mary Washington, Kenmore, and James Monroe’s law office. On the outskirts of town, there’s Chatham, a mansion overlooking the historic district, Belmont, the home and studio of painter Geri Belcher, and Ferry Farm, George Washington’s boyhood home.
A short drive south of town along Virginia Route 2 (Business U.S. Route 17), one can visit trains and planes.
Rappahannock Railroad Museum
Those who love trains will want to visit the Rappahannock Railroad Museum. Housed in a box car, a baggage car, two cabooses and two trailers, the museum displays the history of the Fredericksburg, Richmond and Potomac Railroad and the maintenance of the rails to keep the trains running smoothly. Two model train displays were recently installed.
Visitors can ride the “Yellow Train,” a train composed of maintenance right of way equipment. Weather permitting, this short trip goes from the museum across Route 2 to the main line. You may even see a passing train. The museum is in the Joseph Mills Industrial Park at 11700 Main Street, which is off Route 2. Admission is free, but they do accept donations to help keep the museum open for generations to come. They are an all-volunteer operation with no paid staff. They are currently open on Saturday morning from 9:00 a. m. to 12:00 p. m., and are looking to expand their hours.
Shannon Air Museum
The Shannon Air Museum is just a short drive south from the Rappahannock Railroad Museum. The museum is at the Shannon Airport, which was founded in 1950 by Sidney Shannon, Jr. (Mr. Shannon named the airport in honor of his father, Sidney Shannon, Sr., one of the founders of Eastern Airlines.) The museum was founded in 2016 by Luke Curtas after he and his wife purchased the airport.
Today, you will find a collection of vintage planes, to include the only Vultee V-1A aircraft in the world. The museum is a Virginia landmark, and it is said to have the greatest collection of planes in the entire world. The planes are all housed in an old hangar. Admission is $9.00 for adults, $8.10 for seniors, first responders and police and $5.00 for children. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a. m. to 4:00 p.m. If you get hungry, grab a bite to eat at the Robins Nest Café, which is set up to look like a 1950’s diner. Visit shannonairmuseum.com for more information.
The next time you are along I-95, make a stop just south of Fredericksburg to see a few trains and planes.
John Cowgill ([email protected]) loves to visit historic places to include lesser known sites. He loves taking road trips, and he loves railroads.