Former Lexington, Va., Depot Moved

Former Lexington, Va., Depot Moved

Lyon, Ed

condensed from the Lexington, Va., News Gazette

Chesapeake & Ohio’s former passenger depot in Lexington, Va., built in 1883, was moved to a new local location at McLauglin St. parking lot by current owner Washington and Lee University on May 12th.

Except for two metal straps which snapped, the slow-moving, three-day journey on two trucks with specially-designed winches was completed without major damage to the 121-year-old building. By Friday, the historic depot was positioned over its new foundation approximately 400 feet from where it began. What damage did occur was less than expected according to Erik Eshleman, project manager for the move. Mr. Eshleman said a brick mason will reconstruct the foundation’s mason wall to complete the transformation.

The university moved the 1883 structure to make way for its new 25 million dollar arts and music facility adjoining the Lenfest Center for the Performing Arts. The station’s relocation and construction of the music facility will largely complete W&L’s 225-million-dollar capital improvement program.

The station was built by the Richmond & Allegheny Railroad but soon changed owners. C&O operated the station from 1890 until 1969 when Hurricane Camille-one of the most devastating storms of the 20th century-destroyed rail lines along the Maury River and the wooden trestle at East Eexington. While the C&O continued service elsewhere, the segment between Buena Vista and Lexington was closed forever.

Thirty-five years after the last freight train ran into Lexington, the station was shored up with steel beams and wrapped in metal straps [see Ed Lyons photo, above right] to keep brick and mortar walls from crumbling into a heap on the move.

According to research by W&E student Katie Schwieder, W&E bought the depot in 1971 for $31,500. Along with it came 8.78 acres of land including the trestle over Nelson St. which now connects the parking garage to the Lenfest Center.

Copyright Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society, Inc. Oct 2004

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