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Eastern Railroad Discussion > Pamplin, VA Depot
Date: 05/20/01 17:37
Pamplin, VA Depot
Pamplin residents find new life in old depot
By Christina Loh
The News & Advance
PAMPLIN - In a few months, the "colored" waiting room will become a library, and
the white waiting room a community center.
The ticket sales room will house the town's one office, and Pamplin City officials
will begin trying to raise enough money to recondition the rest of the building.
Pamplin's long, rectangular depot, called a combination station by the railroad
companies, once served both passengers and freight.
Like many public buildings, it was segregated by race.
Soon, though, Pamplin officials hope it will serve as the heart of the town, the place
where everybody goes to find out what's going on.
The Norfolk and Western Railroad Company built the depot in the 1920s. After 30
years, Norfolk and Western converted the station into a maintenance and storage
Then, the company stopped using it altogether, working out of a small trailer
instead. Soon, they'll abandon that also, moving into a small station across the
"The trains still go by, lots of them," said Pamplin City Mayor Bob Mitchell. "And
they don't stop. They go pfffffff!"
Amidst the roar of passing trains, workers have begun working on the depot's floor,
fracturing chunks of concrete with jackhammers that rival any train in volume.
J.E. Sears Co., which won the contract for the first phase of the project, plans to
finish by October.
The concrete floor, in particular, posed a significant hurdle. Although sturdy and
still in good shape, said Mitchell, the fill beneath could not support the weight, and
the floor has sunk by four inches in some areas.
"It was terrible fill. It was a dumb mistake," said Mitchell.
The rest of the building is fine, supported ten feet underground with structural
beams, said J.E. Sears Co. manager Al Sears.
"All of the building is structurally sound, except for the floors," said Sears.
But when the floor is finished with a new wood covering and adequate support,
Town officials hope to set up shop quickly.
They've already collected two truck loads of books to fill the library, which will focus
The books came from Friends of the Library, a nonprofit organization based in
Charlottesville. After holding its annual book sale, Friends of the Library donated
the leftover books to Pamplin.
"The library, I'm sure, will be used, because we don't have one," said the town's
former clerk and treasurer, Shirley Seamster. "If people in Pamplin have to borrow
books, they have to go to the Appomattox library."
A second phase calls for reconditioning the freight room, which comprises more
than half of the 184-foot-long, 4,356-square-foot structure. The room, with added
restrooms on each end and a handicap-access ramp, could be used for receptions,
large gatherings and the like.
Pamplin officials are still waiting for VDOT to approve the second phase.
To cut its own costs, Norfolk and Western sold the depot to Pamplin about five
years ago for a dollar.
Reconditioning the depot will cost about $1 million.
A federal grant from the Transportation Enhancement Appropriation (TEA-21), will
cover 80 percent of the costs.
Even so, the remaining $200,000 will be a tough hurdle.
To ease the burden, the project's planners split construction into two phases. The
first phase, which involves the two waiting rooms and the ticket sales room, will
cost about $356,000, bringing the town's share to about $71,200.
The Virginia Department of Transportation, which is doling out the money, allowed
Pamplin to count the value of the depot and its land, about $89,000, as part of the
"That's wonderful, but that's voodoo economics," said Mitchell. Pamplin will still
have to come up with cash to pay for the rest of the project.
Still, "what it does, is it lets you get started," Mitchell said.
When the project began, residents turned out for spirited meetings to decide the
future of the depot.
It could house a library. It could serve as a community center. In dangerous
weather, it could serve as a shelter. It could even, possibly, revive downtown.
But then, said Mitchell, the lengthy application process, added to other delays,
snuffed out much of the public's excitement.
"Some folks that had fire in their belly," he said, "got cold."
He's hopeful, though, that the enthusiasm will spring up once more when residents
start seeing changes.
Aside from re-affirming the public's support, the excitement will be key to cutting
Donations of money and furniture will help some. Donations of labor and time will
help even more.
To pare down costs as much as possible, Pamplin officials contracted J.E. Sears
to finish just the basics. They hope Pamplin residents will volunteer for the final
touches: scraping, painting, cleaning, landscaping, etc.
The donations in kind will also count toward Pamplin's 20 percent contribution.
Date: 05/20/01 18:07
RE: Pamplin, VA Depot
> Pamplin residents find new life in old depot
> By Christina Loh
> The News & Advance
> PAMPLIN - In a few months, the
> "colored" waiting room will become a library, and
> the white waiting room a community
It was the "fate" of the C&O station in Crozet to become a library too.
Date: 05/20/01 18:23
The F'burg station did not become a library but one of the nicest and expensive restaurants in town. While railfanning there, don't come hungary or you won't be fanning for long. The depot sat for several years as only the piegons inhabited it, but now it is a restaurant called Claibornes. And the ex-RF&P line is busy as ever.