The Bluemoonistic Team attended the Grand Opening of the Tazewell Restored and Repurposed Railroad Depot on May 18, 2019. We loved how they included the word “repurpose” in their announcement! This has been a community project! They believed that their citizens working together could accomplish anything and they made it happen! The depot was built in 1928 and their tag line is “Roaring into the Twenties, Again!”
Tazewell wants to use this building as a catalyst to do more for their community. Not only will the depot be used as a museum to highlight their railroad heritage and bring visitors to their town, but it also includes a large meeting room that local citizens can use. In addition, it will house the Office for the Tazewell County Chamber of Commerce. Many benefits for everyone in the community.
During the ceremony one of Tazewell’s citizens, Bob Gemmell, stood at the podium and took all of us on a trip down memory lane describing local stores as they were in the late 1950s-early 60s. His words brought applause, nods and shouts from all who remembered. He shared such detailed stories about the stores and people that even we felt like we were there! As he put it “If you don’t know where you come from, you’ll never know where you are going.”
All the dignitaries who spoke that day were an example of the community efforts and pride that went into this project. We were amazed at all the organizations that had made contributions. Seeing a community work together in this way gives hope to us all. One of the featured events that day was the unveiling of an amazing new mural in the community room by Ellen Elms called “Tazewell through the Eyes and Words of Louise Leslie”. Louise Leslie wrote a column in the local newspaper called “My Main Street” and the mural depicts her words and images as she saw her town. It’s an amazing tribute to the town, its people and events. It will stand as a reminder and a history lesson to all that visit the depot. Thank you, Ellen Elms, for creating such a beautiful piece of artwork.
One of the most moving moments of the day for a train enthusiast came when Russ Hatfield spoke of his father, the last railroad agent to turn out the lights in this depot. We were thinking that everyone in the room was wishing he could have been there to see this revival! As railfans we believe he was “in spirit”. The architecture and beauty have come back to life and you can almost hear someone calling “All Aboard”!
We also came away with a wonderfully unique souvenir that we cherish! A postcard of the depot was for sale and you could have it postmarked with the date of the dedication on it directly from the Ticket Window! As train enthusiasts this was indeed a highlight to our day and will be included in our upcoming book “Mountain Rail Tales”.
There are so many wonderful places to visit in Southwest Virginia but this is one of those places we feel you shouldn’t miss. Add it to your list of destinations this summer. Take a step back in time and learn how it can help make the future better for us all by visiting this historic depot. This old saying was used in many variations at the dedication “You can’t hit a home run if you never swing the bat” . This community has worked so hard to revive a piece of their history. If they hadn’t stepped up to the plate and decided to save this treasure an important part of this town’s history would have been lost. We see bright things ahead for this community! They definitely hit a home run with this project!