This is me. For what it’s worth, I’m a 60-something-year-old psychology professor at Shepherd University. My specialty is human memory and cognition and I very much enjoy learning how and why humans remember (or forget) the things they do. I’ve recently begun studying the psychology of hobbies. I’m trying to answer a question that I’ve been pondering for a long time: why do people build models? Perhaps the most important thing that I’ve ever done is that I raised two great sons.
This site is the result of a long evolution in my approach to railroads, both prototype and model. My family had property in Louisa County, about 4 miles east of Gordonsville and about ¼ mile from the Doctors Road grade crossing. To reach our property we had to pass through Gordonsville. I always wanted to stop and take photos of the C&O passenger depot in Gordonsville — it looked very impressive and “railroady” to my 12-year-old eyes — but I never could get my folks to stop. I also used to walk from our place to the grade crossing on Doctor’s Road. That’s where my interest in the C&O was born. As the photo below shows, it’s still a pretty isolated place (though there’s now a general store just out of view to the right). In 1970 it looked a lot more like my model of it. I’d spend hours there, doing whatever it is kids do when they’re alone with no toys. And then, sometimes, a train would come through...
I still have hazy memories of C&O trains roaring past. Big blue diesels with C&O on their flanks in yellow. Long strings of freight cars followed at last by a blue caboose. Sheer heaven. At least, I think that’s what I saw. Sometimes I could swear I saw yellow cabooses. It’s all kind of hazy now and I’m not really sure. I really wish that just once it had occurred to me to take my little Kodak Instamatic camera with me. I also seem to recall that the Gordonsville depot was gray when I saw it, but in all the pictures I ever seen it was white. As Barbara Kingsolver once wrote, “Memory is a complicated thing...”
I built all kinds of models when I was a kid. Lots of planes and cars and some railroad models. I even had a layout that my Dad built me on a sheet of plywood. When I hit high school, I gave up on model railroading and spent my time learning to play folk guitar and being rejected by girls. I was in my late 20’s when I finally got back to the hobby. I originally intended to be a free-lancer, but my fictional railroad was going to have strong ties to the C&O and an interchange in Gordonsville — I wanted to model that station. It took about 12 years of constantly making up stronger and stronger relationships between my fictional railroad and the C&O before I realized that what I really wanted to do was to model the C&O as I saw it in the early 70’s. So, I combed through all my C&O sources and culled out whatever I could find on the Piedmont Sub. After having done that, it seemed that it might be fun to share it with everybody else. So, in 1997 I put everything I had online. That was the origin of this site. I’m also hoping to make contact with others interested in the C&O in central Virginia. I hope you enjoy the site. Stop back often — I’m always adding more material as I get it.
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