First Friday: Featuring Rocktown Urban Wood

We are excited to feature pieces from the talented group of local artisans known as Rocktown Urban Wood. These craftsmen have a passion for making quality pieces that bring joy and function to their customer’s lives. From custom dining tables to wall hangings, mirrors, and cutting boards, their portfolio houses a variety of one-of-a-kind pieces. Each of their unique pieces is crafted from locally sourced wood and they partner with local individuals and companies to ensure surrounding resources can be used to their fullest potential.

We invite everyone to stop by the Depot on Friday, May 6th between 5:00-7:00pm to check out their work. Visit our event page here to RSVP and learn more about this event. We look forward to celebrating the arts in our community and seeing many of you there!

Cutting boards custom-made by Rocktown Urban Wood.

Chesapeake Western Depot – A 100 + year old beauty

The Chesapeake Western Depot is a 100 + year old beauty.

According to the Harrisonburg Daily News on April 22, 1913:

Work on the new Chesapeake Western passenger station and freight depot at the West Bruce street crossing is being rushed by the contractors. The freight shed, 120’ long, is ready for the slate roofing, with which the entire building will be covered and the concrete floor. The front of the building, of the passenger station proper, is now more than two stories high, and it too will soon be ready for the roof and the interior carpenter work. The passenger station proper is being finished on the interior with a white pressed brick, impervious to moisture, the first of its kind used in Harrisonburg, It makes a very attractive and neat appearance. The first floor of the building will be taken up by a large general waiting room, in the four corners of which will be constructed the ladies waiting room, smoking room, colored waiting room, and ticket office. These small rooms will be so constructed that the general waiting room will be octagonal in shape with a 16’ ceiling. Entrances will be made from the north and west sides with steps down to trains on the east. The second floor of the passenger station will be occupied by the general offices of the company which are at present located on the fourth floor of the First National Bank building. The building is being erected of native burned brick, with cut stone trimmings, and will be a very handsome and imposing structure when completed.

Chesapeake Western Depot

chesapeake Western Depot

This picture was taken around 1918 and shows the engine 102 with a combination mail, passenger car, and coach ready to pull out of the Harrisonburg station on the way to Elkton. The steam engine show was buildt in 1895 by Richmond Locomotive Works.

Chesapeake Western Depot

1949 – Fire in the office space upstairs – no details

1950 – stopped us as passenger station

1980 – Building Fire in lower level in “light world” showroom. Smoke and water damage reported in upstairs offices

1980ish – second floor offices renovated and rented out to securities company

On July 28, 1982, the Chesapeake and Western Offices burned in a five alarm fire that was attributed to arson.

fire at the Chesapeake Western Depot

1982 – 1990 – building abandoned

1995 – plans for museum proposed

2003 – used as storage for feed company

2005 – JM Apartments purchased building


Chesapeake Western Depot

The building was used for storage of building materials by Monger’s Lumber for years.

Chesapeake Western Depot

2015: Rezoned to B-1 to allow for no parking requirements.

Special Use permit to allow for warehouse in B-1 district.

Proffers to limit use to professional office and retail owned by building owner.

Chesapeake Western Depot

The building came back to life and tenants moved in in July 2016.

Chesapeake Western Depot Chesapeake Western Depot

There are monthly open houses hosted upstairs in our office and at least once a week someone stops by to check out this architectural beauty.

Chesapeake Western Depot

History on display at the Chesapeake Western Railroad Depot

I love getting a new box of history in the office! Working in the Chesapeake Western Railroad Depot (more posts here, herehere, here) is a true joy. It seems almost every day someone comes in to share their story about the short-line rail, nicknamed the Crooked and Weedy. Here are some of the latest finds. I also have new things on display in our foyer if you want to drop by during business hours to see them. Share your stories about the CW with me – I love learning more about this short-line.

D.W. Thomas in 1926 was hired by W.E.D. Stokes of New York to try to make a last-ditch effort to save the short-line. Mr. Thomas was named the General manager of the CW and was innovative in his approach. He put competing bus lines out of business by cutting his rider fees to one-half cent per mile. The CW became the first 100% radio controlled rail in the country. He also started the CW trucking line to compete with other trucking companies moving into the area. Apparently he even gave out autograph copies of his photo!

Some postcards found in the latest batch of history dropped off include a view of old town, Union Station, Spotswood Country Club, and Rockingham Memorial Hospital.

Anybody know what the going rate for shipping bags of fertilizer. Here is a ticket from 1898 for 260 bags. It seems like $1,277 is a lot of money to move fertilizer in the late 1800’s. The average annual income in 1903 for a railroad wage earner at the time was $593.

Even in the early 70’s the CW struggled to keep people from walking on their rail. This is such a dangerous practice, but it happens every day here in Harrisonburg.

I want to know more about assembly park. Who has a story?

I am sure this was a fun bunch of hard workers. Can anyone tell me more about the Elkton Lead rebuild?

Chesapeake Western Railroad Depot History Display open this Friday from 5pm – 8pm

Chesapeake Western Railroad Depot History Display open this Friday from 5pm – 8pm

You are going to want to come visit our office this coming Friday at the Chesapeake Western Railroad Depot. We host an art opening each month in the hallway outside of our conference room. The building is located at Gaines Group Architects office (141 W. Bruce St. Suite 201). This month Wendy Custer will join us with an incredible display of her work.

Chesapeake Western Depot


We have also made some great progress on the Chesapeake Western Railroad Depot History Display. We now feature photos of the 101 and 102 engines that started the rail line here in the valley. We have historic photos of the building donated by Neal Menefee on display (reproductions blown up and printed on canvas). We also have many artifacts including switch locks, dated nails, an ash tray from the passenger car, oil can, and lamp. There is also a wood block die that was used for printing marketing material for the CW that basically shows the CW as the key line for rail travel in any direction. There is a notebook of historic postcards, check stubs, shipping tickets, stock certificates, a tribute to Tinky, and a rare picture of the 105.

Chesapeake Western Depot


Also, did you know there was an engine house next door to the CW station? We now have pics of it before and after the explosion on display. You need to come visit us this Friday, May 5th from 5pm – 8pm to enjoy the display, art opening, some food and drink.
Chesapeake Western Depot

Chesapeake Western Railroad Depot: New T-Shirts We Love!

We love our building and love sharing that love with everyone – so we made t-shirts with our logo and a picture of the Chesapeake Western Railroad Depot! The art work was created by Stronge Designs. He included a sketch of one of the diesel engines that used to run on the track next to the building as part of the design. The Depot logo featured on the shirt was created by Estland Design that has an office on the second floor along with us. This is the first time we have printed t-shirts for marketing our firm. What do you think? 

Of course t-shirt marketing is not anything new. In fact, our friends at Cheido Labs held a cool fundraiser earlier this year. They challenged fans to wear a Cheido shirt in front of their business sign and take a selfie on a particular day and post it to social media. With each post, Cheido made a contribution to support On the Road Collaborative. A great concept to do good in the community, market their business, and have fun!

I wonder what contest we could hold to do good in the community and a little marketing? Maybe even include the Chesapeake Western Railroad Depot… Thoughts?