Clifton Forge, VA (CLF)
Passengers wait in a 1902 structure built by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway as part of its extensive operations along the New River. Just down the street is the C&O Historical Society.
307 East Ridgeway Street
CSX Office Building
Clifton Forge, VA 24422
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 2,401
- Facility Ownership: CSXT
- Parking Lot Ownership: CSXT
- Platform Ownership: CSXT
- Track Ownership: CSXT
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The station at Clifton Forge was built in 1902 by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) as a coal freight and passenger depot for their successful operations in the New River Gorge. At three full stories, it towers over the trains that pass by on its tracks. The station building itself is across the street from the platform where the passing trains make their stops.
The station is also across West Ridgeway Street from the C&O Historical Society. This society has devoted itself to preserving the C&O Railroad’s place in the coal mining history of not only the town of Clifton Forge, but the entire region. It houses maps, timetables and records going back to the mid-19th century. The society has also constructed historically inspired railroad structures a short distance from the Amtrak depot, including a signal tower, passenger depot and engine house. The green wooden passenger depot is based on an 1891 design but adapted for 21st century uses, and includes an agent’s office, ADA-compliant bathroom and a large multipurpose space that can be used as an exhibit space or a classroom.
The land in the southern Shenandoah Valley that Clifton Forge now occupies was originally part of a 1770 land grant from the Governor of Virginia to Robert Gallaspy. A settlement developed on both sides of the Jackson River in this part of the Alleghany Highlands, from Slaughter Pen Hollow to Smith Creek. By 1826, the area had begun to grow both from the completion of the road over North Mountain and from the iron industry there in Alleghany County. William Lyle Alexander of Lexington owned a forge in the Rainbow Rock Gap and he named the forge Clifton in honor of his father’s estate in Lexington: thus, Clifton Forge. The city incorporated under that name in 1884, two years after the C&O named its new depot at the east end of town, “Clifton Forge.”
Clifton Forge has had ties to the railroad industry since 1857, when the Virginia Central Railroad extended its line from Staunton to the Jackson River. From there, the tracks extended west, and when the line to Richmond was completed in 1881, the town prospered. The C&O used Clifton Forge as a maintenance facility for its steam locomotives and crew change point, and the area around the C&O shops came to be called West Clifton, which merged with Clifton Forge in 1906. At its peak, the railroad employed over 2,000 people in Clifton Forge. The town is still a major focus city for CSX operations in the region.
The town is home to one of the first state parks in Virginia, Douthat State Park. This 4,500 acre park was built during the late 1930’s by members of the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps. Clifton Forge is also surrounded by the George Washington National Forest, which covers 1.8 million acres of land in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Approximately one million acres of the forest are remote and undeveloped and 139,461 acres have been designated as wilderness areas.
The Homestead, a 3,000-acre renowned five-star resort and National Historic Landmark, lies about 20 miles north of the town in Hot Springs, Va. Originally built in 1766, the current buildings date from 1888 to 1892. The Homestead and its three famous golf courses have hosted numerous national golf tournaments since 1928.
The Clifton Forge station also serves several local colleges, including Washington and Lee University, Southern Virginia College, Roanoke College and the Virginia Military Institute.
The facility has a waiting room that is opened and closed by a caretaker. Amtrak does not provide ticketing or assistance with baggage at the Clifton Forge station, which is served by the tri-weekly Cardinal (Westbound: Sunday, Wednesday, Friday; Eastbound: Wednesday, Friday, Sunday).
- 10 Short Term Parking Spaces
- 10 Long Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Platform
- Enclosed Waiting Area