From its inception in the 1880s, The Norfolk & Western Railway primarily carried freight but as a sideline, it always provided passenger service. A profitable, well-run company, N&W only accepted the very best.
As World War II ended, N&W offered several named trains along its main line, including the Cavalier, the Pocahontas, and its daytime flagship the Powhatan Arrow. Pulled initially by the magnificent Class J steam locomotives that N&W manufactured at its Roanoke Shops, the Powhatan Arrow provided fast, luxurious, and memorable service for three decades before passenger service was discontinued, giving way to automobile and airplane travel nationwide.
The corridor traversed by the Powhatan Arrow is a wonderfully complex, geographically fascinating, socially diverse, and economically mixed path through Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio. The vicissitudes of time have endowed the communities along the way with a broad spectrum of fortunes, branching from prosperity to failure.
With railroads no longer carrying passengers, Michael Abraham duplicated the route as closely as possible by car, motorcycle, bicycle, and even canoe, gathering each area's history and culture and profiling entrepreneurs, historians, railfans, and everyday people in this enlightening, humorous look at a swath of America's past, present, and future.