Wakefield, VA train order office

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Jan 24 07:59:58 EST 2013


Two other stations that originally had second story towers were
Wytheville and Christiansburg (Cambria). The designs were apparently
fairly similar; the major difference being that the Wytheville station
was built of brick and Christiansburg of timber. Both stations were
built in the early 1870s. The towers were located at one end and
centered along the length of the building, not offset like at Rural
Retreat. The contract for the Wytheville station references the tower
room several times, but gives no indication to its use. It is only
referred to as the "Tower Room" or "Room in the Tower". Access to the
tower room was by means of a staircase from the Ticket Office, so it was
not part of the public portion of the station. The walls were plastered
and wainscoted in the same manner as the waiting rooms and ticket
office. The tower at Wytheville was removed when the passenger end of
the station was expanded in 1905.

The tower room may have served to give the station agent a view of the
tracks. However, the roof arrangement at Christiansburg (and presumably
Wytheville) hinders this theory. The back wall of the tower room doesn't
have enough free area to fit a full height window and still clear the
roof. It is possible that a small "porthole" window could have been
installed, but that would not have matched the rest of the architecture
and doesn't seem likely.

I'll mention that I have found no drawings or photographs of the 1873
Wytheville station. However, the construction contract describes the
building very well. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps from the period show the
footprint to be the same as Christiansburg. I suspect that the
Wytheville station was originally intended by the AM&O to be a copy of
the Christiansburg station. Town officials insisted on a brick station,
which is what got built. A set of architectural drawings were produced;
I have been unable to locate a copy.

Danial Fisher

From: NW Mailing List [mailto:nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org]
Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 11:39 AM
To: NW Mailing List
Subject: Re: Wakefield, VA train order office


Your picture of Wakefield triggered questions for the group. I've
attached a couple of photo composites to illustrate the following. The
Wakefield architecture is similar to Rural Retreat, of Italianate
design: low roof, tower(s), ornate trim, rounded windows. The early
1900's photos of both show two changes that I am interested in. First,
both early depots had 2-story towers (water?) that had disappeared by
the 1940's. Second, both depots show the addition of city water toilet
facilities that were 'tacked on' and didn't bother to replicate the
rounded windows. Wakefield added their toilets where the main entrance
appears to have been, while Rural Retreat added its toilets to the
northeast corner.

Questions for the group:

1. Is there a recorded history of changes the N&W made to its depots?

2. Does the disappearance of water towers correspond to a changeover in
locomotive design or some other system-wide change?

3. Was there a particular year or program when toilets were added?

It is significant to me that the N&W did a very professional (and
expensive?) makeover of its depots when it phased out the towers.

Thanks in advance,

Frank Akers



From: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
Sent: Sun, January 20, 2013 2:12:12 PM
Subject: Wakefield, VA train order office

Good morning all:

Attached is a 1963 view at Wakefield. Did the N&W replace train order
blade signals with color lights in later years? Would anyone have an
example photo of the control box that was inside the station for
changing the signal in each direction?

Best wishes,

Frank Scheer

f_scheer at yahoo.com

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