Ashland, VA (ASD)
Passenger trains travel down Ashland's charming Center Street, which is lined with large shade trees, beautiful historic homes and commercial buildings.
112 North Railroad Avenue
Ashland, VA 23005
Annual Station Ridership (FY 2020): 15,585
- Facility Ownership: Town of Ashland
- Parking Lot Ownership: N/A
- Platform Ownership: CSX Transportation (CSXT) / Town of Ashland
- Track Ownership: CSX Transportation (CSXT)
Amtrak has begun construction to upgrade platforms at the Ashland station in order to enhance accessibility for travelers. Construction will be performed in two phases through late 2020. The Ashland Visitor’s Center inside the depot will continue to be open, and Amtrak trains will continue to serve Ashland during construction. Parking in certain areas will be limited during the different phases of construction, and updates are available on the town’s website.
The Amtrak station in Ashland consists of a platform with a shelter. Amtrak trains provide a picturesque view for passengers riding through or stopping at this small Richmond suburb and college town. The rails run between the two central streets, which are lined with beautiful shade trees and a variety of Colonial Revival and Queen Anne homes, college and commercial buildings.
The current Ashland station replaced an older one built in 1890. Designed by W.P. Lee and completed in 1923 by Aubrey Hunt of Ashland, the brick depot stands 1 ½ stories high under a slated gable roof with hipped end parts which covers three bays. A trackside two-story, 3-bay porch provides the waiting space beneath wide eaves supported by four over-sized whitewashed and smooth-shafted columns. The four columns make the depot easily recognizable from the tracks and Center Street. Wood and concrete benches ease the wait there and full-grown trees close to the building provide cooling shade in the hot Virginia summers. Inside, the Ashland Visitors Center maintains a small museum in one of the former waiting rooms.
The station was closed between 1967 and 1985. While the station itself is not on the National Register of Historic Places, it is part of Ashland’s 159-acre historic district, which received its listing in 1983.
American railroading in Virginia was still in its infancy when the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac (RF&P) Railroad Company purchased a 482-acre tract in Hanover County in 1836, bordering its newly-laid tracks. The line connected Richmond and Fredericksburg with trade terminals on the Potomac River, providing a more efficient means of trade and transport than the previous combination of stagecoach, ferries, and steamboat routes. The tract served as a source of lumber and fuel until Edwin Robinson became president of the railroad in 1846. The “slash” (swamp) seemed an unlikely spot for a resort community; but Robinson realized that it was a perfect distance for the popular country picnics of the day, making a pleasant day trip, as well as providing a convenient rest stop for passengers on the line going north and south.
Robinson subsequently invested in building a racecourse at the south end of the city, complete with Jockey Club, grandstand and gambling establishments. Hotels and bars also made this quite a popular resort stop in that period. Other than the railroad-owned facilities, the town hosted two boarding schools.
In 1858 the town formally incorporated as Ashland, the name of native son Henry Clay’s Kentucky home. That same year, the Ashland Hotel and Mineral Well Company incorporated to capitalize on the commerce brought in by picnickers and race-goers, buying up land in town.
Very little of the antebellum Ashland remains. The Civil War brought economic disaster upon Ashland, its tourist trade ruined with the termination of travel to the north; and the town saw both battles and officer’s balls, being so close to the armed conflicts surrounding Richmond. Post-war depression affected both Ashland and the RF&P, as it did all over the South. The railroad struggled to restore its tracks and rolling stock. Meantime, the ownership of the Ashland and Mineral Well Company lots passed through several hands and into those of the Randolph-Macon College of Boydton, Va., in 1868. The school, which was also suffering from investments in failed Confederate Bonds, not to mention the critical loss its rail link, moved to Ashland for its more central location on the main north-south rail line. This proved a wise move for both the college and the town, restoring economic life to both. In the 1870s and 1880s the college began to erect its own buildings; three of these original four still face the railroad tracks and were placed on National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Randolph-Macon was founded in 1830 near the border of North Carolina and Virginia, by the Virginia Methodists. The names of John Randolph, a Virginia statesman, and Nathaniel Macon, a North Carolina statesman, were given to the college to dispel the notion that the school was to be only a sectarian one, as neither man was Methodist. Originally a men’s college, Randolph-Macon has a historical relationship with Randolph College—formerly Randolph-Macon Women’s College—in Lynchburg, Va., which was intended at its founding in 1893 to be the women’s counterpart; the two later separated administratively as well to become distinct schools. In 1971, Randolph-Macon became co-educational. (Randolph College became co-educational in 2007.) Today, Randolph-Macon is a respected liberal arts four-year institution with an enrollment of more than 1,200.
Ashland finally saw a building boom in the last quarter of the 19th century and first quarter of the 20th century, following World War I. RF&P curtailed the sale of spirits in the town in the 1880s and otherwise enticed middle-class white families to move there with its new respectability. Meantime, Ashland continued to function as a rest stop for passengers traveling between Richmond and Washington. A grand hotel was built, the Henry Clay, and an electric streetcar line was constructed between Ashland and Richmond in 1908.
The present station was built when, following a severe fire downtown that demolished several buildings, a number of Colonial Revival brick buildings were erected to replace those destroyed.
The town is also home to the Strawberry Faire during June, which is the height of the local strawberry season. The festivities include jazz and other concerts and performances, food, vendors, a children’s pageant, and of course, strawberries. Ashland continues today as a pleasantly green Richmond suburb and college town, and the community’s proximity to Interstate 95 has maintained a strong connection with Richmond-to-Washington travelers.
Northeast Regional service within Virginia is funded in part through grants made available by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Platform with Shelter
- Quik-Trak kiosks not available
- No ticket sales office
- Amtrak Express shipping not available
- No checked baggage service
- No checked baggage storage
- Bike boxes not available
- No baggage carts
- Ski bags not available
- Bag storage not available
- Shipping boxes not available
- No baggage assistance
- Same-day parking is not available
- Overnight parking is not available
- No restrooms
- No accessible ticket office
- No accessible waiting room
- No accessible water fountain
- Accessible same-day parking is available; fees may apply
- Accessible overnight parking is available; fees may apply
- No high platform
- No wheelchair
- No wheelchair lift