Add Train Station To Next Award-Winner
Editor, The Herald:
When the 28-page “High Bridge Trail State Park Special Supplement” hit the street in April, I was impressed. It was head and shoulders above anything else that had been published about High Bridge Trail up to that time. Now it has been bested.
The new 36-page “High Bridge Trail State Park Souvenir Edition,” just published in July, is nothing short of spectacular. The folks at The Farmville Herald, who are responsible for both publications, should be congratulated. If the first one doesn't win an award, the second one will.
On the off-chance that another edition of this publication is ever produced, I can think of only one thing that might be added-a picture and story on the Farmville Train Station. Next to High Bridge, it is the most photographed site on the trail. What follows is a short history of the train station.
When the present Farmville Train Station was nearing completion in 1903, N&W petitioned the Town Council for 62 electric lights that would burn “from dusk to daylight.” This may seem strange today, but the town owned the coal-fired Farmville Electric Light Plant. It was located near the train station-off the end of Randolph Street, between the railroad tracks and the Appomattox River. (The town owned the Electric Light Plant for 40 years, from 1892 to 1932. There are some today who think they never should have sold it. It is long gone now, but if you stand on the sidewalk on High Street and look down Randolph Street towards the Appomattox River, you can see a large pile of dirt where the plant once stood. On the other hand, if you happen to be walking on High Bridge Trail near the Train Station, stop opposite the large pile of dirt and look towards High Street. You can see the Confederate Monument at the top of Randolph Street.)
Although supplying “dusk to daylight” lights for the train station would mean running the electric plant all night, Councilman N.B. Davidson strongly recommended acceptance of N&W's request, telling his fellow councilmen, “The town has arrived at a stage when it is necessary that it run its lights all night.” They agreed, prompting the State Female Normal School to request that the town also furnish it with lights that would burn all night. Prior to this, electricity was supplied only until midnight.
Contracts were drawn up in which the town agreed to furnish “incandescent lights at a cost of 50 cents each per month.” The meant an annual cost of $372 for N&W and $900 for the Normal School. These lights were 16-candlepower, 100 volt. (The word “bulb” was not mentioned in the contract, but the town was furnishing both the light bulbs and the electricity for 50 cents each per month.)
When the train station was opened on Tuesday, April 28, 1903, it was as much a Grand Illumination as a Grand Opening-the first building in Farmville to have round-the-clock lighting. The glow could be seen for miles around and, with memories of the Great Farmville Fire of 1898 still fresh in people's memory, took a bit of getting used to. The first train to stop at the new station was No. 6, heading east, towards High Bridge.
Dr. Ray A. Gaskins