Manassas Railroad Festival Attracts Fanatics


Train displayed at Manassas Railroad Festival

The historic town of Manassas celebrated the history and the legacy of the railroad with its famous annual Railroad Festival on Saturday, June 3rd. Since 1994, the railroad festival has been a popular annual event in Manassas that excites participants of all ages.


“I enjoyed the festival from last year a lot,” 17-year-old Cannon Griffin said. “I like to see the railfans there and like to hang out with them and make videos of trains with them.”


Some townsfolk are devoted to attending the festival whenever they can.


“I attend the Manassas railroad festival annually,” 17-year-old Jackson Van Ness said. “It’s a great thing to do during the weekend, especially if you enjoy trains. Also, you can learn a lot about railroad history.”


The festival boasts model railroad layouts set up by various clubs and a number of vendors selling model trains.


“My favorite thing to do at the festival, as a member of the National Capital Trackers O-Gauge Model Railroad Club, is running the trains on our model layout,” Ness said. “It really feels good to bring a smile to a kid’s face when a model train runs by them.”


Ness can relate to the joy the kids feel with the model trains.


“Ever since I was two or three years old, I have been interested in anything that moved: trains, planes, helicopters, cars, and trucks, even ceiling fans!” he said. “I guess trains are what really struck my interest.”


However, the next generation’s children may not share these men’s love for locomotives–for the past two years, the Norfolk & Western steam locomotive #611 ran excursions out of Manassas for round-trips to Front Royal, VA and back, but this has been curtailed.


“The steam locomotive is a true living piece of history and brings memories to old timers today, that steam locomotives were the major source of railroading motive power in everyday life,” Ness said. “There is hope that one day, the steam locomotive will come back to Manassas for more people to have another chance to see a streamlined steam locomotive built back in 1950.”


Every attendee of the festival has a story to tell about how they got into trains–some of them have had relatives that who have or currently worked for the railroad. Train enthusiasts have a strong passion for everything to do with trains, from playing with toy trains to making entertainment train videos.


“I started to love trains was when I was five years old when I played with Thomas the Tank Engine toys,” Griffin said.


This railroad festival continues to engage the public with fascinating aspects of railroading and foster a sense of community.


“I think the railroad festival brings the community of Manassas together, because when the whole festival is set up, the people in town and the railfans love to come and videotape the event,” Griffin said.