St. Albans Chesapeake and Ohio Depot
The Chesapeake and Ohio Depot was built in 1906 and located along one of the city's original brick streets. The numerous tall windows, high ceilings, and extended overhangs on the roof make this one of the more architecturally detailed depots in West Virginia. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Collis P. Huntington brought the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad to St. Albans and the city's first depot was built in 1871 on Fifth Street near a ferry that served cargo and passengers alike. The construction of a railroad bridge in 1907 led to the C&O Depot being moved and rebuilt on 4th Avenue in St. Albans. As passenger service declined in the 1950s, the C&O railroad reduced service between Huntington and Charleston as more residents and travelers preferred to travel by bus or personal automobile. The railroad discontinued service at this depot in 1963 but local residents have worked to preserve the building.
Backstory and Context
The station was closed around 1963 and remained vacant until around 1991 when the city bought it. The depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Restored in the 1990s, it is now operated by the C&O Model Railroad Club. The tracks run right through the middle of the city where the station is still standing and is used once or twice a year for tourist or people who live there to get on and ride a train on a day trip.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Depot was originally built by Collis P. Huntington in 1871. Coalsmouth grew owing to new trade and business during the late 1800s. Lumber and planning mills were being established throughout the area. This was a great opportunity for a railroad station to be established due to the demand of lumber and coal transport in the area.
In 1871, Huntington wanted to have the name of the city of Coalsmouth changed to St. Albans. Due to his power and influence, the WV Legislature approved the name change and it became official in January of 1872. Unfortunately, the town’s people were unaware and unhappy about the change. It is said that the name change came as a favor to Mr. Huntington's Chief Council, Mr. H.C. Parson. The name came from Mr. Parson's home in St. Albans, Vermont.
The design of the original Chesapeake and Ohio Depot was built with two separate waiting rooms that separated women, and general, according to record. This depot was reconstructed and moved in 1906. At this time the depot served as a freight only station until its re-construction had taken place in 1910 after a fire destroyed it.
In 1910, the station was reconstructed and once again became both a freight and passenger station. It remained a passenger station until the 1960s. Different means of transportation became popular and the depot closed down in 1963. However, the ferry boat still remained in operation until the later 1930s because its tolls were cheaper than that of the new Nitro-St. Albans Kanawha River toll Bridge which was built in 1934.
Today, the Rail Road remains an active part of the St. Albans area. The railways are still used to transport both coal and passengers. Although the C&O Depot is no longer operating as a station, it is used as a historical marker and is open to the public the second Saturday of each month for all to enjoy its rich purpose and history.
Kanawha County, St. Albans C&O Railroad Depot pdf. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. July 09, 1997. Accessed October 12, 2017. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/kanawha/97000785.pdf.
Ft. Tackett. St. Albans Historical Society. Accessed October 12, 2017. http://www.stalbanshistory.com/History.html.