BOONES MILL, Va. – One of the most iconic structures in Boones Mill, the historic train depot, represents not only the beginning of the community and its railroad heritage, but a period in time that the town is now hoping to preserve, with a story of rail history told like none other in the area.
"We think it's important to tell the full story of the community -- the good and the bad,” said Boones Mill town manager Matt Lawless.
Built in 1897 and operated through the 1960s, the train depot was a hub for the town and has many stories to tell.
"The interior of the historic space will be restored to about 1950, with the station master's office, the segregated waiting rooms and the freight area. We will be interpreting the depot history as a hub for community life in Boones Mill, telling the agricultural heritage, the civil rights story," Lawless said.
That story here highlights segregation at its peak as local residents may have purchased tickets to ride the same train, but had to do so at different windows, based on their color.
While the story may be that of a divided community, Lawless hopes this depot will now unify the community that exists today.
With the help of the Friends of the Booker T. Washington National Monument, the museum will also serve as a preservation site and community center.
The town is working to collect stories from some of its oldest residents.
"We are happy to put that call out now. So if anyone wants to volunteer with the depot and help with construction or if they have a story to tell, let us know. We will be happy to meet you halfway and make it happen,” Lawless said.