Wakefield, VA train order office

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Fri Jan 25 16:20:18 EST 2013

I believe the structure you are refering to is the signal mast. You can see two signal blades at the horizontal position. One is at the top of the mast, the other about even with the bottom of the window in the tower.
Jeff Sanders

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Sent: Friday, January 25, 2013 9:48 AM
Subject: Re: Wakefield, VA train order office

Thanks everyone for the info.  Attached is a postcard from 1911 showing the two-story tower on the Rural Retreat Depot.  The upstairs window is open, so the room must have been actively used.  Question:  what is the tall structure attached to the tower on the track side?

Frank Akers

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To: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
Sent: Thu, January 24, 2013 7:46:42 AM
Subject: Re: Wakefield, VA train order office

On Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 7:59 AM, Daniel wrote:

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 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. 

The Christiansburg station is still standing in Cambria and it still has its tower. It was a passenger and freight station until the "new" passenger station (which also still stands) opened on September 3, 1906. The "Farmville" type station served both the N&W and the Virginia Anthracite Coal & Railway Co. (the "Huckleberry" later bought by the N&W to become the Blacksburg Branch). The original station then became exclusively the freight station serving Christiansburg and the surrounding area. From past discussions with Jim Dorsett, the space in the tower was an office for the freight agent. The station was "shortened" (after it went out of service to the N&W) in 1981 when a box car on the Hucklebery track (runs behind the passenger station) was run into the end of the wooden station by a set of wayward helper engines. Rather than repair the damage, part of the building was demolished and a new end installed. The station was obtained by Jim and Helen
Dorsett (both now deceased), publishers of The Scale Cabinetmaker, and renovated and restored, staying off a demolition order that had been posted for the building. They ran their publishing business out of the front of the station and eventually converted the rear portion of the freight room into living quarters. Their daughter now lives there and operates the Cambria Toy Station in the building.

Photos of the station couldn't be found in a search of the VT archives or the N&W Historical Society archives. But there are several photos in a history of the station found at http://www.historiccambria.com/History.htm Clicking through other pages on that site results in more details and photos. There is also an explanation of why the back wall of the tower is the way it is. When the new passenger station was opened and this station became freight-only,  "The freight section was cut away from the passenger section and raised 25 inches, creating the existing short gable on the west end of the freight room. A problem with rot under the front section (waiting rooms) was solved by cutting 14 inches off the entire bottom of the passenger rooms."

Bruce in Blacksburg

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