History of the Elkins Depot

Situated on a bend of the Tygart Valley River, the City of Elkins was incorporated in 1890 by Senators Henry Gassaway Davis and Stephen B. Elkins. The city acted as the headquarters for their vast timber, coal and railroad empire. Named after the junior Senator, the City of Elkins also served as the Senators’ summer retreat from Washington, D.C.

1897 View of Elkins. Courtesy of Beverly Heritage Center.
1897 View of Elkins. Courtesy of Beverly Heritage Center.

Davis and Elkins started a logging business and developed railroad lines and coal mines. Together they built the WV Central and Pittsburgh Railway into Elkins and opened a vast territory to industrial development in the late 1890s. With the arrival of the railroad, Elkins started to grow. The city attracted hundreds of rail and logging workers as well as business entrepreneurs, all looking to call Elkins their home.

Davis sold his railroad interests to the Western Maryland Railway Company in 1905. In 1908 the Western Maryland Railway Company built the current train depot. It replaced two previous depots—a wood frame passenger depot and a large freight depot. The original depot was built in 1889 and was located just north of the current station, and the freight depot was located just to the south.

As the railroad expanded, Elkins experienced the luxury of passenger train service. By 1930, eighteen passenger trains were arriving and leaving Elkins daily, filling the air with the coal dust of steam locomotives. In 1959 the last passenger train pulled out of the Elkins Depot. After that, the Depot and rail yard continued to downsize until operations ceased entirely by the end of the 1980s.

The Depot sat unused until the Randolph County Development Authority (RCDA) purchased the rail yard and Depot in 1997 from CSX for $1.5 million. In 1999 the RCDA began the process of renovating the Depot, and the structural renovations were complete in the summer of 2000.

The Elkins Depot Welcome Center, the central location for tourist information, started serving the area in 2006. The construction of a new bridge at the south end of the old Western Maryland rail yard was completed in 2007. This gave the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad the opportunity to lease the depot for their excursion trains. Today the Elkins Depot Welcome Center is open year-round and the railroad runs trains nine months out of the year.