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Winchester Little Theater, Winchester, Virginia

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Come on in.  The show is about to start.  Take your seat.  The lights are about to dim, and the show is about to begin.  Enjoy the show.

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Welcome to the Winchester Little Theater in Winchester, Virginia.  Located in downtown Winchester just a few blocks from the main downtown mall, the theater puts on shows throughout the year.  The next time you are in Winchester and want to see a show, make your way to this little theater.

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Now some of you are saying, “Well isn’t that something?  You have a little theater in Winchester that puts on shows.  I love to watch a show from time to time, but it would be really nice to see something about the railroad.  Therefore, the shows at this little theater will be going on without me.”

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You do have a point.  Why go to this little theater when it has nothing to do with trains?

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You are driving to the Winchester Little Theater.  As you are driving along, you see and old Pennsylvania Railroad Freight House.  How cool is that, but you have a show to see.  You decide to check out this old freight house.  You pull into the parking to park, and you walk around.  You see an old box car in the back.  You climb the steps onto the platform, and you look inside.  It looks like a theater lobby.  You walk around, and you see a sign that says ‘Winchester Little Theater’.

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The Winchester Little Theater is housed in the old Pennsylvania Railroad Freight Station which was built in 1890.  (The year the depot was decommissioned and rail service discontinued was unknown at this point.)  The Winchester Little Theater was performing in other locations in Winchester, but they purchased this depot and performed their first show in August of 1974.  When you walk around the gravel parking lot, you can see some of the old rails embedded into the gravel.  When you enter the building, you can look on the walls and see a map of the rail lines going north of Winchester to points north.  You have a display of timetables from the Cumberland Valley Railroad.  There is also a photo of three steam locomotives to include a Class J.  All of these displays were put here in the theater by the Winchester Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society.

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The Winchester Little Theater is a community theater that is non-profit, and it is an all-volunteer organization.  They do five productions a year mostly on weekends, and they have open auditions (for those who live in the area) to act in one of their plays.

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The Winchester Little Theater is located at 315 Boscawen Street (U.S. 50) in Winchester, Virginia just a few blocks from the downtown mall.  Parking is free and plenteous.  Tickets can be purchased either by phone or online.  Be advised that most shows do sell out.  You can get more information and to read more into the theater company at https://wltonline.org/.

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How cool is it to be watching a great theatrical production while seated in a piece of railroad history?  How good is the show?  Let us say that it is an experience that can really knock your socks off… really.

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The Princeton Railroad Museum, Princeton, West Virginia

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Princeton, West Virginia is a small town in the southern part of the state just off Interstate 77.  As you take a drive through this town, you would seem to think that this is a small town like any other town.  It is the county seat of Mercer County and has a minor league baseball team in the Appalachian League.  It was the home of famous people to include Bob Denver from Gilligan’s Island, actors Sam Elliot and Jennifer Garner, Ken Kendrick, owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks and basketball hall of famer Rod Thorn.  What is special about Princeton, West Virginia?  The story is told in the old train depot.

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On the outside, you see the depot, a red caboose painted to display the Virginian Railway and a speeder car.  On the inside, you will see over one hundred and fifty years of history of the railroad in the region to include how the town was very strategic for the coal industry connecting the regions with the ports in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.  You will also see an extensive collection of lanterns, signals, model locomotives, railroad art, a velocipede (three wheel bike on rails) from 1864 plus the ticket agent’s desk and the meeting table from the Sands and Company.  Once you tour the inside, you may look outside for and passing trains that could be rolling by.

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The Princeton Railroad Museum is located at 99 Mercer Street in Princeton, West Virginia.  There is free street parking at the depot.  Admission is free, but they gladly appreciate any donations you give to help with the operation of the museum for generations to come.  The museum is open year round between 10:00am to 4:00pm Monday to Friday and 11:00am to 4:00pm Saturday and Sunday.  Tours of the museum are also available, and the facility is also available to host your special events.

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Princeton, West Virginia, a small town that has so much history.  It is a small town that has so much railroad history.  Let the Princeton Railroad Museum walk you through that history.

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‘I See Trains’

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Do you see the trains?  Maybe you cannot see the trains because you are in a spot where you cannot see them.  If you could only get out to your favorite train watching spot and get a great seat to watch them.  You sit on your beach chair.  The trains come.  You count the cars.  You see the passenger trains, commuter trains, freight trains and excursions trains.  You see long trains and short trains.  Or, you can go see the model trains.  You stand back and watch the trains as they go around and around and around.  You take a walk to your town or city park, and you see the old locomotive or the old caboose enshrined as a gift to your community for everyone to see.  You want to climb on, but there are chains preventing you from doing so.  Besides, it may not be safe to climb on anyway.

There is nothing like watching trains, and there is no other piece of transportation like it.  It is always fascinating to watch, and you just cannot wait for the next one to roll around.  Trains have become of part of you, and it can remain with you for a lifetime.

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Trains for the Holidays

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It is the normal thing at the end of the year.  You arrive at the train station.  You check your bags.  You wait for the train.  The train arrives.  You board the train and go to your seat.  The train departs the station.  You watch the scenery going by.  You arrive at your destination.  You get off the train.  You grab your bags.  You go to the place where you will be spending Christmas.  You exchange gifts.  You eat.  You then return to the station and take the train home.

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It is the same thing every Christmas, but it is a routine that you are willing to do over and over again because you love the ones that you are spending Christmas with, and you love riding the train looking out at the landscape.  For you, the train ride may be the best part of Christmas. Take the time to think of those who are working on the train so that you can enjoy your days for Christmas.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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The first photo is the ‘Oh Tanenbaum Train’ from ‘Steam Into History’ at the old train depot in New Freedom, Pennsylvania.

The second photo is ‘Santa’s Polar Bear Express’ from the Colebrookdale Railroad at the 1920’s train depot in Boyertown, Pennsylvania.

The third photo is of Santa Claus waving from the Wanamaker Kempton and Southern Railroad at the old train depot in Wanamaker, Pennsylvania.

The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

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In the southeastern part of the state of West Virginia just west of the Virginia state line is the town of White Sulphur Springs.  It is a small town, but it has a great significance.  It is the home to the Greenbrier, a world renowned resort on 1,000 acres that is also a National Historic Landmark.  What began in 1778 as a visit to the ‘White Sulphur Spring’ and grew into a resort, it has hosted 27 U.S. Presidents, royalties and business leaders.  Today, you will be totally amazed as you walk around and visit all of the rooms and walk along the walking paths.  A visit or a stay at the Greenbrier will be a stay that you will never want to see come to an end.

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Now some of you are saying, “Wow!  This has got to be one amazing spot to have great dignitaries stay here.  It must be a sight to see.  There is one problem.  This is a magnificent resort and hotel that has no railroad.  Therefore, you will not be seeing me around these dignitaries or business leaders at this place.”

That is a very interesting thought.  This is a very luxurious resort, but the Greenbrier owes part of its success to the railroad.

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As mentioned, it all began in 1778.  However, it was closed during the American Civil War between 1861 and 1865 where both sides used the hotel as either a headquarters or hospital.  When the war ends, the resort is reopened.  In 1869, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway arrived in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and people came to the resort by train.  The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway purchases the property in 1910, and the Greenbrier Hotel is opened in 1913.  In 1931, a new depot was built to replace the one that had stood for many years.

Then World War II came.  In 1941 after the United States entered the war, the hotel is leased to the U.S. State Department.  In 1942, the U.S. Army purchased the Greenbrier and made it into a hospital.  When the war is over, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway repurchased the hotel, and it was remodeled and opened in 1948.  The existence of this high class resort is owed to the railroad, and the railroad is why thousands of people are able to enjoy this resort today.

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Today, you can stay at the Greenbrier, and you can see how the resort was very significant role in the defense of the nation from the American Civil War to the Cold War, and you can see how the town of White Sulphur Springs became the unofficial capital of the United States of America.  (Please note that there is a security checkpoint that you must pass by to enter the resort.)  You can also see the train depot that was opened in 1931 across the street from the entrance where visitors can still ride the train to the resort today.

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The Greenbrier is located in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia at 101 Main Street West (U.S. 60) on the west side of White Sulphur Springs and just minutes from Interstate 64.  You can go to http://www.greenbrier.com/ to get more information on this resort and to read deeper into the rich history plus to see events and activities the resort has to offer.  One of the activities is train watching at the historic depot.

When you book your stay at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, you are not just spending a night at a luxurious hotel.  You are staying on a historic piece of land that helped protect America.  You are staying where many greats once stayed.  You are staying at a place that was shaped by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway.

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PLEASE NOTE that the black and while photos have been supplied by the Greenbrier to be used in this article.  The Greenbrier owns the copyrights to these photos.

On a Roadside in America

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A family of a father, mother and a boy was taking a drive through Pennsylvania.  As they were going along, the suddenly engine stopped.  Fortunately, they were able to get safely off the road.  The father tried to start the car, but nothing happened.  They looked around and saw nothing around them.  The father stepped out of the car.  He walked back and forth and back and forth.

“Would you like to see my world?”

Startled, he turned and saw a man standing nearby.

“Come and see my world.”  The man urged them.

Not knowing what to do, the family went with the man.  After a short walk, they found themselves on a dirt road.  A band of cowboys on horseback came behind them and continued on.  They saw tracks beneath them, and a horn sounded.  They stepped off the tracks, and the trolley pulled up.

“Get on.”

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They boarded the trolley, and they began to roll along.  They saw Amish and farmers working in the fields.  They entered into a town, and they saw the many people strolling down the streets.  They arrived at the train station.

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“Hurry!  The train is almost here.”

They stepped off the trolley, and a steam train pulled up.

“All aboard!”  The conductor shouted.

They stepped aboard the train, and the train pulled away.  They rolled through the town, and they were out in the farmland.  They rode by waterfalls and over bridges and through tunnels.

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“This is amazing.”  The father was very amused.  “This cannot be real.”

But it is real.

Welcome to Roadside America in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania.  Roadside America is a miniature village that was built by Laurence Gieringer with early help from his brother.  Each structure in the village was hand-built by Laurence himself, and he laid out the tracks for each of the trains, and he even designed the flowing waterfalls, the rivers and working fountains using real water, and he created the night scene.  Originally built in his home, he continued to build on to his village adding more buildings and trains.  The village grew in popularity and won a contest sponsored by a local newspaper where it won first place to a point where he was encouraged to go public.  It was opened to the public in 1953 in its current location in the structure it is currently in.  He continued to work on the village until his death in 1963, and the village has remained unchanged since then.

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Today, you can visit Roadside America.  The village is a display of 200 years of American history from the 1760’s to the 1960’s.  You can see the village full of model trains going around through the towns and farmlands.  You can see the old trolleys roll down the streets.  It has remained unchanged since 1963.  The village is owned by Laurence Gieringer’s descendants who intend to keep it the way he left it.

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Roadside America is located at 109 Roadside Drive in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania.  It is just off Interstate 78 / U.S. 22 between Allentown and Harrisburg.  Admission is just $8.00 for adults, $5.00 for children 6 to 11, $7.00 for seniors 65 and those in military service. 5 and under are free.  There is plenty of parking.  Plus, you can visit the Dutch Gifthaus next door to find some good gifts.  You can get more information at https://www.roadsideamerica.co/.

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Roadside America is a roadside attraction worth going off the road for.  It is a roadside attraction about the history of America.  It is a roadside attraction that is the work of one man, and it is a roadside attraction that remains unchanged.  Most important of all, it is a roadside attraction with lots and lots of trains.

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The Danbury Railroad Museum, Danbury, Connecticut

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What do you think about when you think about the city of Danbury, Connecticut?  Some people have heard of this city, but if they tried to tell you what is there, you will more likely get dumb looks although it was nicknamed the ‘Hat City’ as it was once the site of a hat manufacturing center.  It is one of the largest cities in the state, and it has a few historic sites, but the most significant site is the old train station.  It is one of the few train stations that was located at a junction.  Today, this train station is the home of the Danbury Railroad Museum.

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Located a few blocks from the center of town, the Danbury Railroad Museum has a huge collection inside and outside.  You enter the old train station into the old waiting room.  You see the old benches where passengers once sat on waiting for their trains to come.  You have the old ticket window where the tickets were bought.  In the next room is where you will see the numerous model trains depicting different scenes from the mountains to the towns to the old rail yards.

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This is what is inside.  Now you have to see what is outside.

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You exit the depot, and you are standing on one of the platforms used during the days when it was a passenger station.  You cross the tracks, and you enter into the yard.  Before you is vintage rolling stock from locomotives like the Boston and Maine 2-6-0 Number 1455 and Number 2013 of the New York Central and New Haven FL9 Number 2006 to many passengers cars used for cross country travel and commuter service and cabooses plus a post office car, and it has four operating engines: an Alco RS-1, a BUDD car, a GE 44 tonner and a Pfizer SW-8.

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This is not your little town railroad museum.  It is a museum that tells the story of the depot and the railroad story of Danbury.  When you arrive, you will need to spend a little time here.  If you are fortunate enough, you may see a train pass on by.

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The Danbury Railroad Museum is located at 120 White Street (intersection of White Street and Patriot Drive).  Directions from the interstates are on the webpage.  They are open year round although hours do vary between summer and winter.  They are mainly open between 10:00am and 4:00pm with lesser hours on Sunday.  Admission is $7.00 for visitors age 3 and older.  (Prices may vary for special events.)  Train rides in the rail yard are also available on the weekends from April to November.  There is parking right at the museum.  You can learn more about the museum, the museum hours and to see their special events throughout the year at http://danburyrailwaymuseum.org/.

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The next time you think about the city of Danbury, Connecticut, you can now think about the Danbury Railroad Museum.

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