Renovations at N&W depot reveal decades-old documents

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One journal from the Norfolk & Western that workers found while renovating a station in Coeburn, Va., for office space.
Submitted photo
Tishia R. Boggs, Director, Norfolk & Western Historical Society; Jeff Kiser, Mayor, Town of Coeburn; Russell "Drew" Mullins, Manager, Town of Coeburn hold decades-old journals of Norfolk & Western freight traffic through the area.
Submitted photo
COEBURN, Va. — Situated along the current-day Norfolk Southern Clinch Valley District of the Pocahontas Division, Coeburn was once an up-and-coming coal and railroading community. Originally known as Guest Station on Norfolk & Western track charts, having been named for famed explorer Christopher Gist — (locals did not spell the explorer's name correctly because of the way it was pronounced.) In time, what would become Coeburn quickly became a key point in the region for delivery and shipments of goods and workers for the mining region. As the railroad resumed its westward expansion through the Clinch Valley region in 1891, N&W Chief Engineer W.W. Coe and Chief Counsel Judge W.E. Burns formed Coeburn Land Corp. to develop the area surrounding the rails and coalfields. That same year, Norfolk & Western constructed a passenger depot and freight station to support the growing community. Three years later, in 1894, as the town grew, it was incorporated and named for it's founding fathers from the N&W Railway Co. — Coe and Burns.

Fast forward to the Spring 2017. Growing need for office space in the town lead to the Town of Coeburn to begin renovation of the N&W Depot which had once housed Town Hall and Town Council meeting rooms. While inspecting and upgrading plumbing in the attic area of the depot, workers discovered decades and even century-old Norfolk & Western Railway journals and documents. One journal found even dates prior to the construction of the depot. Given the historical significance, condition and age of the documents, Town Mayor Jeff Kiser reached out to the Norfolk & Western Historical Society for assistance in preserving this part of the town's history. Historical society Director Tishia R. Boggs, living in Coeburn, teamed up with Kiser and Town Manager Drew Mullins to work on preservation and display efforts over the next several months. When documentation and preservation is complete, the items will be on display in the newly renovated depot space and digital copies will be preserved at the historical society archives housed in Roanoke, Va.

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