Rotarians learn about railroad culture

ELKINS – Denver Barnett of the West Virginia Railroad Museum regaled the Elkins Rotary Club with history and tales about the Mountain State’s rich connection to trains and railroad culture that has pervaded so much of Randolph County’s history.

“Rails laced this country together,” Barnett said. “They made western expansion possible, stitched culture together and made access to major national markets possible. Railroads also made spin-off industries like coal and lumber possible and helped build towns around the need for those industries.”

Barnett conveyed about the importance of railroad culture in areas like Elkins and how many communities were built around railroad towns.

“Most of the towns in this area have become what they are today because of railroads,” Barnett said. “Elkins is certainly one of many examples.”

Barnett also said some of the ongoing project that the museum is working on include the restoration of Western Maryland Rail Motor Car No. 6 and a five-passenger Cadillac sedan used as an official car for the rail company. The museum also is preparing for its move into Darden Mill complex, with an April grand opening and a presentation on the Virginia Railway, which ran from Norfolk to Beckley.

According to the West Virginia Railroad Museum’s official website, the mission of the museum is “to be a cultural resource dedicated to educating visitors and the community about West Virginia’s railroad history,” which is to be accomplished “through the collection, preservation and interpretation of significant locomotives, rolling stock, artifacts, photographs and memorabilia directly related to railroads and railroading in West Virginia.”

For more information about the West Virginia Railroad Museum and its exploits, projects or to learn how to donate to the museum, visit