June 2019 Article

June 2019 - Update
On arriving in Schuyler the second week of June, a distinct reminder of soapstone production was evident (as it always has been).  There were piles of waste near the entrance and while the site could easily have been silent, it wasn't.  While the visit was short as the day's schedule was long, it was evident that production at the site remains active.  From there the drive to Rockfish was uneventful though over rough, two lane roads with several one lane bridges.  The visit to Rockfish was productive in noting the route stops between Schuyler and Rockfish.  Then it was off to Esmont for a visit with Peggy Denby of Friends of Esmont.  The site of the original depot was determined, but that land is not available for re-use.  A scaled version of the depot may be used as the trail head for the Esmont-Alberene Rail Trail so this was an exciting time.  Up next is providing scale views of all 4 sides of the Esmont Depot so the scaled-down version can be created and put into use.  Book Status:  The fun part of writing a book on this railroad has been fact-checking!  Some of the facts had to do with why someone in the soapstone company did something and it is always difficult unless there is a memorandum/letter talking about the issue.  Fortunately (though I had no time this trip, nor was the Library open!), the Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia has many documents though some financial and other records were disposed unceremoniously in a dumping after the bank failure of the Esmont National Bank during the Great Depression!  Unlike other missives capturing the overall view of the soapstone company and their owned railroad, this book seeks to capture the vision of what it was to work during the turn of the century in a quarry, on the railroad, and in the gang saw building (where my Father had one of his first jobs).  Life was not easy, but a good paying job could really make a difference in how your family lived.  So I'm excited to have the early chapters ready and now working on the middle of the book for the required detail to understand how difficult it was to maintain and operate the locomotives and freight/passenger operations.