The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is installing a touring railroad exhibit in the Pennsboro B&O Depot, located in Pennsboro, Ritchie County. The Ritchie County Historical Society will have an opening reception on Friday, June 13, at 5 p.m. The exhibit will remain on display through Aug. 17.
The exhibit, entitled Riding the Rails: Railroads Connecting West Virginia, will have text panels detailing railroad development in West Virginia. As early as 1830, western Virginia had several companies proposing the construction of various types of transportation including railroads, but the Virginia General Assembly opposed all the plans fearing that westward development would draw business from eastern Virginia cities such as Norfolk and Richmond. Once West Virginia became a state, all that changed and railroads and river transportation became the primary means to move large and heavy products.
The exhibit will contain artifacts from the West Virginia State Museum collection including tongs for holding odd-shaped pieces of iron forged on the anvil, side shears used to cut hot, soft iron, nippers used to trim horses’ hooves while shoeing them, claw hammers, a coal drill sharpener stake used to place in an anvil to sharpen coal drills, rail spike pullers, a coal shovel, a C&O Adlake Kero Lantern, a C&O Yellow Dog Lamp which burned on waste oil, and a B&O Railroad compartment plate, cup and saucer for use in the dining car, among others. The display also has a photograph display courtesy of the museum collection, Del. Lynwood “Woody” Ireland’s collection, (R-Ritchie) and the West Virginia State Archives Photograph collection.
The Pennsboro Depot was built in 1883 and it continued in operation through 1974 when the facility closed. The railroad tracks were removed in 1988. In 1990, the Depot was threatened with destruction, as condemnation proceedings on the abandoned building were scheduled to begin. Through the efforts of local citizens and railroad enthusiasts nationwide, the Depot was saved. Today the Depot serves as a museum. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
The Pennsboro B&O Depot is located along the North Bend Rail Trail, at the corner of Broadway Street and Collins Avenue. It is open from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Saturday and noon - 4 p.m. on Sunday. Visitors can call James Jones at (304) 659-2946 to set up an appointment for alternative hours during the week.
For more information about the Riding the Rails: Railroads Connecting West Virginia exhibit, contact Charles Morris, director of collections and exhibitions for the Division, at (304) 558-0220, ext. 704.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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