A stop worth making

Published 12:15 am Sunday, March 30, 2014

There may never come another day when the Suffolk Seaboard Railroad Station serves as the departure point for travelers headed by rail to other parts of the nation. Nonetheless, we’re glad to see it open again, after a recent brief closure.

The historic train station, which is owned by the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society and is located at 326 N. Main St., was on hiatus from its normal schedule for a few weeks recently when an employee of the society left her job there and the organization had nobody to fill manage the facility.

It has been many years since the building’s heyday. Originally built in 1885 as a passenger depot for the Portsmouth and Roanoke Railroad, later the Seaboard Air Line Railway, on its south side and the Virginian line on its north side, the station was used as a freight office from 1968, when passenger service ended, until the late 1980s.

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A fire in the 1990s nearly destroyed the building, but a grassroots effort to save the station attracted federal funds, as well as private and local government matches, and it opened in its present state in 2000.

A visit to the train station is an enjoyable (and free) way for a family to while away a couple of hours. There is an award-winning, two-room HO-scale model of circa-1907 Suffolk, complete with running model train, and there are toys for the kids to play with, train memorabilia for those with an interest in history and a gift shop for the whole family. And outside there is a refurbished 1962 caboose.

The historical society has hired Kevin Long, a recent Virginia Commonwealth University history graduate, to run the facility. He has aspirations to make museum work his career and seems excited to start here in Suffolk.

Now that there’s a staff person again, the station is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Stop by and say hello sometime. You’ll find this stop is worth stopping for.