The Alexandria, Loudoun & Hampshire Railroad was formed in 1847 to carry the agricultural produce of the Shenandoah Valley and western Virginia coal to the port of Alexandria. Financial difficulties, however, meant that the line never got farther west than Bluemont, Virginia, rendering it only marginally profitable throughout its existence. As a result, the line went through many changes of ownership, including operation by the Southern Railway from 1894 to 1912 and by the Washington & Old Dominion Railway (W&OD) until the track was abandoned in 1968.
The Bluemont line of the W&OD was a sedate, low-volume carrier of produce, dairy products, mail and some passengers between Loudoun County, Alexandria and Washington, D.C. Consistently undercapitalized, the line was disparagingly referred to as the "Virginia Creeper" or the "Weary, Old & Dilapidated," but by the 1960s, it was beloved by rail enthusiasts for its wide variety of rather elderly equipment.