The history of Marlinton has always been tied to that of the C & O Railroad. The citizens of Pocahontas County voted in 1891 to move their county seat from Huntersville to the proposed new town, because of plans for a railroad, and, thus, timbering, jobs and prosperity ensued.
The depot is a well-loved building and was much mourned when fire nearly destroyed it. Its rebuilding and new life – wonky signal and all – give hope for other new beginnings.
Instead of a railroad, we now have a river trail, and the lumbermen and railroad workers have given way to hikers, cyclists, fishermen and canoeists.
The area around the depot is becoming an art center and the depot itself houses the 4th Avenue Gallery.
Saturday morning, the Marlinton Depot’s collection of railroad memorabilia was greatly enhanced by an unexpected gift from an unexpected source.
What are the chances that a complete C & O conductor’s uniform in the collection of a railroad enthusiast from Richmond, Virginia, would find its way back to the Greenbrier Line, where its original owner wore it?
Sally Rose Ribeiro, born and raised in Marlinton, became the conduit by which the uniform traveled.
Sally is married to Dario Ribeiro, nicknamed “Dadi.”
Sally said Dadi’s cousin, Mitchell Teixeira, has been a train fanatic all his life. Years ago when he worked for Thalhimer’s in Richmond, Virginia, he and a Mr. Knight became good friends. They shared a love of trains. Over lunch one day, the young Knight said his dad worked on a train for many years, moving up the ranks to Conductor.
As the conversation continued, Mitchell learned that he had been a conductor on “a little line in West Virginia,” which turned out to be the Greenbrier line from Ronceverte to Marlinton to the upper end of the county.
Mitchell told Knight that his cousin had married a girl from Marlinton.
A year after Conductor Knight’s death, the younger Knight decided to retire, and Mitchell was moving on to another job.
As their paths parted, Knight gave Mitchell the conductor’s uniform, knowing it would be appreciated.
Sally suggested that the uniform be donated to the Marlinton Depot, and Mitchell and his wife, Libia, liked the idea.
Sally and “Dadi” provided the mannequin to complete the display.
The uniform is complete with hat, badges, jacket, vest and pants.
Mitchell also donated C & O books about routes, regulations and procedures, as well as a conductor’s ticket punch and an oil can.
Sally brought photos of the Seebert Depot, one of which has local people in it identified. There was also a photo showing an amazing view of Seebert with the mountains bare, after logging was completed – with a passenger train following the Greenbrier River. She will make copies for the collection.
At the moment the Artisans Co-op is preparing to use the box car at the depot for art activities, which means it needed to be cleaned out, having been used for storage for more than 30 years.
The contents were a mix of treasure and trash.
The train board, dating back to the running of passenger trains – at least sixty years – a small table used in the depot and a pigeon hole, probably used for train orders and freight billing, according to Mitchell, also augment the depot’s railroad collection.
The depot thanks Mitchell for his gifts, and Sally for remembering her Marlinton roots and working to bring the uniform home.