|By Dr. William M. Talley
Vanceburg Depot Restoration Project has been rejuvenated by the help of Mayor Cooper and
City Council for the funding of certain equipment and furniture for the restored building.
Several months ago Paula Franke (of the Herald staff) developed a very
attractive web page for the project and it can be accessed on the internet by opening www.vanceburgdepot.com Through Dennis Brown's
efforts we were able to secure the web site with an address that is easy to remember and
it is illustrated with a photograph of the restored depot, taken by Dennis Brown. The
picture of the depot gives a delightful introduction to the opening page of the site.
At present the web site carries two full-length articles on the history of the
building of the Maysville and Big Sandy Railroad (Chesapeake and Ohio), both written by
William M. Talley. The first article gives a detailed account of the problems involved in
completing the railroad from Ashland to Maysville between 1850 and 1888. The other article
gives detailed information on the early operations of the railroad, how it changed the
lifestyle of Vanceburg and Lewis County's citizens, and how it connected Vanceburg with
distant cities and trade centers.
During the last two weeks several important facets of the project have been
completed. Through the efforts of Dennis Brown and Joni Pugh, various technological
equipment (including telephones and computers) have been installed. Both new and period
furniture have been moved into the east room.
With so many valuable acquisitions and equipment, it was necessary to install a
state of the art security system, which was completed last week under the direction of
Purely by chance and good luck, we have made the acquaintance of George
Gilkison, of Alexandria,, and his cousin, Robert "Bob" Gilkison, of Maysville,
who have offered to place on loan their vast collections of railroad memorabilia. The
Gilkisons are natives of Trinity, in this county, and have been employed for many years by
the C&O (now CSX) in the positions of conductor and investigator. Their collection of
old railroad memorabilia is remarkable and in the near future, we hope, we shall begin
setting up a display of their collections. This is truly a fortuitous situation for this
The Depot Committee is soliciting other artifacts and historical materials,
such as old pictures, stationary, Chessie calendars, railroad schedules, old ticket stubs,
or any other items related to the days of railroad travel through Vanceburg. The Depot
Committee met with the Gilkisons at city hall on Tuesday, March 13, and discussed various
arrangements for bringing about the historical display. Since we hope to rotate the
displays to develop more interest, we are hoping that various citizens will find items to
place on loan at this little museum. All items will be appraised and safely kept locked in
their display cases.
Helen Smith and Dorcas Gilbert have made efforts to locate a mannequin to place
in the telegrapher's window, dressed in the attire that was traditional. Lois Taylor has
volunteered to help with the framing of prints and photographs we wish to display.
Dennis Brown/Lewis County Herald
George Gilkison of Alexandria shows Dr. William
Talley and members of the Vanceburg Depot Committee some antique railroad locks which will
be part of a display at the depot building. That display will be the first of a series
planned for the depot building.
Plans are being made to develop a short historical video that can be played for
visitors to the center. The committee would like to hear from persons who are interested
in this project and would like to assist in making such a film.
In the near future, the committee hopes to acquire microfilm readers and film
of the early census records and the old Lewis County newspapers for persons looking for
information on their Lewis County ancestors.
In addition to these research instruments, Dr. Talley's database of Lewis
County genealogy and history will be made available to the public. During the past two or
three years there has been an increase in the number of persons who come into town seeking
information on historical landmarks and looking for sources of information on their family
history. We are optimistic about setting up the Vanceburg Depot as a site which people can
use as a resource center, complete with county maps, brochures, and other sources of
We are sure that many people have stories handed down from family members of
their experiences in traveling the trains of the old days, and stories relative to
shipping geese, chickens, butter, cream, milk, etc., to Cincinnati. And, no doubt, there
are many stories of people's travels on this rail line between Vanceburg and Cincinnati
and other points. We would like for people to send us their stories and their memories to
be placed on file at the Museum.
We also will need some stories and photos of the Kinniconick and Freestone
Railway, which ran from Garrison to Carter City-Gesling. It was a spur of the C&O.
Mayor Cooper pointed out that many recruits in WWII left for the war from this
little depot; families waved their goodbyes from the platform. It is the intention of the
Depot Committee to have a special program honoring these men who left for the war on July
4, 2001. This is still within the planning stage.