Next weekend promises to be one of the most exciting weekends at the Elkins Train Depot since the heyday of rail transportation some 50 years ago. Many words have been and are being written about the upcoming centennial celebration of the depot (1908 2008). This is cause for celebration when one stops and considers how close the depot came to being written off as a relic of a bygone era. Now, after more than two years of painstaking restoration along with the replacement of the rail bridge across the Tygart Valley River, it has become the showpiece of downtown and its center of activity.
The railyard, after having sat fallow long before the destruction of the railroad bridge in late 1992, now supports a live entertainment theater, a soon-to-open upscale restaurant and the heart of the Durbin Greenbrier Valley Railroad. It is the heart of the tourist destination known as Elkins, W.Va. - the place where "Mountain Memories are Made." Take time, too, to reflect on the contributions of our "new" town square. Two years ago, who would have dared to imagine that we would be enjoying a farmer's market there or people having lunch on "Fresh Food Fridays"?
While the progress of the revival of the old railyard is not as fast as most would like, especially those involved with the West Virginia Railroad Museum, take a moment and think back to what was there just two and a half years ago. This surely is reason enough to have confidence in the economic future of our community as well as to take a special pride in its appearance.
While July 12 will be the "big day" of the celebration, the weekend's events actually begin early on July 10 when, after a hot buffet breakfast at the depot, a motor coach will depart Elkins promptly at 6:30 a.m. for Cass. They will then board the passenger train at around 8 a.m. for its inaugural run from Cass to Elkins on the old West Virginia Pulp and Paper Co. railline from Cass to Spruce. There they will merge onto the former Western Maryland line, now The New West Virginia Central, and proceed through the ghost town of Cheat Bridge and on to Bemis and Bowden. Because of the obvious problems of a coal burning steam engine pulling a passenger train through a tunnel, the train will be powered through Tunnel Mountain by a diesel-electric engine. The Shay will be reconnected after exiting the tunnel for the remainder of the trip into Elkins.
While Shay No. 6 is in town, it will be powering trips to the western portal of the Kelly Mountain Tunnel and back to Elkins. There will also be night photo sessions at the Elkins Depot starting at 8:30 p.m. on July 10-13. The sessions will feature Shay No. 6 with a different diesel each night. More than 20,000 watts of quartz lighting will provide spectacular photo opportunities.
This promises to be the most exciting few days of railroading since the Cass Scenic Railroad Shay- and Heisler-geared locomotives visited Elkins during the Mountain State Forest Festival more than 30 year ago.
Elkins Mayor Judy Guye mentioned at the Downtown Merchant's meeting on June 23 that approval was recently granted by City Council for merchants to have sidewalk sales in town. Sounds like it would be an especially good idea this weekend and for the upcoming Depot Centennial Celebration on July 10-13. If you have any doubts or question regarding your having a sidewalk sale, call the mayor's office at 636-1414.
Shana Horrigan of Halcyon Vision attended the merchant's meeting on June 23. She is a certified life coach looking to establish "my niche in Elkins," as she put it, "to help both individuals and groups identify and reach their goals with clarity and focus."
Horrigan gave an interesting and informative presentation to Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce members on June 17. For more information, call Horrigan at 940-0580.
The Elkins/Randolph County Family YMCA will host an ice cream social at Elkins City Park from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on July 12. This is the Y's way of joining the celebration of the centennial of the Elkins Railroad Depot. Old and young alike
Artists at Work gained a new member recently. Ed Jett, a specialist in building birdhouses, has joined the organization. According to artisan and member Anne Beardslee, "Ed creates some of the most unique and beautiful birdhouses I've ever seen. He travels the entire East Coast states and usually sells every creation he takes with him."
Jett comes from the Green Bank area of Pocahontas County.
Larry and Jeff Barger were also at the June 23 merchants meeting and announced a change in the operating hours of the Talbott Frame Shop. Located on Third Street, the business is now open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The shop is closed on Sundays.
Here are some dates you might want to put in your datebook. On July 15, Davis & Elkins College will host a business "After Hours" at the McDonnell Center from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Coldwell-Banker Hometown Realty will host a business "After Hours" from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on July 29. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be hosted at the new Enterprise Car Rental location, 300 Randolph Ave. in Elkins on July 31. More information on these events will be forthcoming. Business "After Hours" is becoming a very popular venue for businesses of all sorts to gain exposure to the public and provide great networking opportunities.
The annual Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament will take place at the Elks Country Club on July 26. There are still openings for teams but they are going fast. The chamber needs sponsors and volunteers to help with the event. If you would like to participate, sponsor one of the events or contests, or help in any way, call the Chamber officer at 636-2717.
The West Virginia Department of Commerce has created a new Web-based job posting system, www.hometowv.com, as a means of working with state employers to help attract former residents and others to "come home" to the Mountain State.
"Come Home" is a key theme woven into the commerce's cross-agency marketing of travel, recreation and economic development. Starting this summer and extending through the end of the year, the department will be promoting quality of life/work themes via online and off line efforts that will target an in-sate audience and reach out to the surrounding states and their metro areas where many West Virginia natives have moved.
Employers interested in participating in the program can submit job openings to the above Web address. Click the "jobs" tab and then post employment opportunities. The site provides links and information for both job seekers and businesses. Another way for employers to participate is to send a high-resolution JPG of their logo, 50 to 60 words describing the business and a link to the online career posting on your Web site. E-mail this information to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Department of Commerce at (304) 558-2003.