I had a wonderful opportunity to visit the Seaboard Railroad Station in Suffolk, Virginia recently following its 125th year Anniversary celebration.
I thought this station, which is now known as the Seaboard Station Railroad Museum, might be of interest to other model railroaders particularly since it contains a large, realistically detailed HO scale model railroad taking up over two large rooms within the museum. The model depicts the station and the surrounding area during the early decades of the 20th century when it was most active.
There is much history here dating back to 1608 when John Smith tried and failed to establish a settlement along the Nansemond River. Later a tobacco trading post started by John Constant in 1720 developed into a community called "Constant's Wharf", which later became the town of Suffolk.
The Seaboard Station has not been active as a railroad station since the 1960s, although it still has several CSX trains that run behind it every day, which is a thrill to watch from the vantage point of the small observation room upstairs.
In its heyday, it would have as many as 100 trains run through the tracks on both sides of the station! Usually the Seaboard Railroad and Seaboard Coast Line would run on the rails in front and the Virginian would run along the tracks behind the station. Several other railroads including the Atlantic Coast Line, Southern Railway, Commonwealth Railway, NFD, Atlantic and Danville, CSX and Norfolk Southern used the station as well at various times, including Norfolk and Western’s passenger trains - the Powhatan Arrow and the Pocahontas.
The station fell into disrepair after the late 1960s and then a fire nearly destroyed it. Thankfully, the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society restored the station in 1994 to its original glory of 1885.
The model railroad that is contained within was planned, designed and built by the Tidewater Division of the Mid-Eastern Region of the NMRA (National Model Railroad Association). It took about 2 years and many man-hours to complete, but it was well worth the effort. There are many interesting and sometimes-humorous details if you look closely. The essence of the era and the locale has been captured with significant grace and beauty. Not only is the scenery beautiful, but the trains operate like a dream!
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