Bringing History to Life
Exhibit looks at 100 years of railroading
ELKINS –The West Virginia Railroad Museum threw open its doors to the public for the first time this year on Friday morning, as part of its reopening weekend celebration.
“A museum is a big part of a town’s culture, and we’re here to serve the community,” Emma Pringle, an AFNHA AmeriCorps Service Member with the museum, told The Inter-Mountain Friday morning.
The museum is offering a new exhibit, entitled “’20 – ’20 Visions: 100 Years of West Virginia Railroading,” featuring the work of nationally acclaimed railroad photographer Dr. Frederick J. Ripley.
The exhibit includes 27 of Ripley’s dramatic images taken throughout West Virginia and the surrounding region, all enlarged to 20” x 30″ and framed under glass, accompanied by detailed caption information.
All of Ripley’s photos are for sale, and all sales benefit the West Virginia Railroad Museum. The exhibit also includes a selection of older photos, maps from various eras, and detailed interpretive text panels.
“We’re hoping to entice new people to join in and take part,” the museum’s Ed Griesel told The Inter-Mountain Friday.
“We’re more public now than what we used to be, by having these different exhibits each year. Hopefully we’ll see a lot more people come through when the trains start running,” he noted.
“This exhibit is about 100 years of railroading in West Virginia. We have older, black and white photos and Dr. Ripley has modern, color photos, and together they really show how the industry grew and changed.”
The museum’s first visitors this year were Ken and Susie McCabe of Youngstown, Ohio, who said they made the trip to Elkins because they are very interested in trains and railroads.
“We came down to see this today and then we’re going to the Cass Railroad,” Susie McCabe said. “The train there isn’t running yet but we’re checking it out for later in the year.”
Pringle said she is working on another historical project to be displayed at the museum.
“My big project is an oral history project. So I’ve been interviewing local retired railroaders about their experiences. That’s a very individual but insightful look at what it was like to live in a railroad town,” she said.
The oral history is being recorded on video.
“The videos are going to be available on YouTube, and we’re going to archive them. And the goal is to eventually create a small documentary to be displayed here,” Pringle said.
The museum’s reopening event will run from through Sunday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day, and the museum will be open each following weekend from Friday through Sunday.
The museum is located on the second floor of the Darden Mill in Elkins, on the corner of First Street and Railroad Avenue.