Day 1 – Radford: A Home to Trains and Building Art

Why a post combining trains and building art?  Mostly it’s about timing.

I am on the first night of a 7 night / 8 day, mostly business trip around Virginia.  As I was trying to get out of Radford and head on down the road to Richmond, I was drawn to two scenes that I see almost on a daily basis.  I’m not sure what made me stop to take pictures today, especially since I was already running late, but … have camera … well you know.

Trains and building art could easily fill several posts, but today, a few pictures will have to do.


Radford has been a railroad town since the 1850s when the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad (later the Norfolk and Western Railway) came through.  The population grew dramatically as did business, industry and education.  Passenger rail service no longer exists in Radford, but the railroad through the city is still a major component of Norfolk Southern Railway’s Roanoke to Bristol route.  As is typical of those who live in a railroad town, it is easy to become immune to the sound of the trains and their whistles as they pass through the city.


The structure pictured below sits right behind the railroad tracks.  I am sorry to say that I do not know what it is … I was guessing a water tower.  A quick FB call out to local Radford folks revealed that most agree, especially given it’s proximity to the rail yard.  I’m hoping I can learn the date it was constructed and any other interesting bits of information as well.  We’ve got some serious history buffs in our little city.  I’ll pass on what I learn!


Since I posted this morning I have heard from several who tell me that the tower served to store water for use by the steam engines.

As buildings are renovated or unfortunately torn down (or fall down), art in the form of advertisements is often revealed.  Radford, like many localities, has many more examples of building art than just those pictured here.  These particular ads were revealed when the City of Radford took down an old partially burned out building (which even had a tree growing in it) and created a community courtyard.  This lovely little area is now called Carson’s Courtyard.






This next building sits right across the street from Carson’s Courtyard and the art provides a lovely backdrop for the Farmer’s Market.


And as you look past the brick wall, you will once again see the tower.


Day 2 – Richmond

14 thoughts on “Day 1 – Radford: A Home to Trains and Building Art

  1. The “water tower” looks like something out of the Medieval Era! Oh and the trains, we can hardly forget of their existence around here. But I think you’re right about people growing immune to the sound; I haven’t really noticed their blaring whistles in ages now that I think of it!

    • The tower does look that old! I’ve had several locals say that the tower was used to store water for the steam engines. Someday I’ll take more time to do justice to both trains AND building are!

  2. I love those old building ads and even posted about the ones around my area a while ago. “The Past is Present”. The typography is so cool and I’m amazed at how long they’ve lasted. There’s a Cunard ad on a building in Edmonton, which I found funny since we’re a prairie province.

  3. Here in Charleston SC we have big Norfolk Southern and CSX presence. Both companies have their main yards in North Charleston but it’s Norfolk Southern that has a line all the way to downtown and the Charleston Port. We have dozens of ships caring cars in and out of the country and NS handles the freight.

    Chris Hall
    The Adventures of Jaydon and Daddy

  4. Margaret Smith told me she used to go to DC with her Radford friends and I said, “Was this before you got your car in 1955?” And she said, “Yes, we took the train.” She didn’t say “…from Radford.” It was just very matter-of-fact. “We took the train.” How cool would that be? I guess in her day, they envied people who could drive themselves up Route 11. I love the train pictures –the last one especially.

    • Wouldn’t that be great? I’ve had fun looking at more evidence of historic (and existing) “train stuff” in Ashland and in the downtown Richmond area … more to come, Ruth!

    • Margaret is a treasure for sure! The GOAs plan to take the train from Ashland to Old Town Alexandria this spring! Wouldn’t that be great? I’ve had fun looking at more evidence of historic (and existing) “train stuff” in Ashland and in the downtown Richmond area . more to come!

  5. Thank you so much for drawing my attention to this post. I am crazy for wall art. I am fascinated by seeing the old ads revealed when the new ads flake and fall off. Again, I am drawn to how you are able to focus on a small part of a scene and pull out such character. Your photos always make me smile.

Because Boomdee dared me: Lay a little sugar on me :-)

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