Monday, July 21, 2008

Martin's Tank

Just "up the road apiece" (10 miles on I-81) is Pulaski. In the 1850's, the railroad stopped for water at "Martin's Tank," a place where Robert Martin had built a water tank for the train. Over the years, the name changed to "Martin's Station" (1870) to "Pulaski Station" (1884) to "Pulaski City" (1886) to the present name "Pulaski" (early 1900s)(Joe Tennis in Southwest Virginia Crosswords).

Pictured here is the restored courthouse, built around 1896. The clock and belfry were added in 1911. It is now an historical museum.

Downtown Pulaski, a town of 10,000, has many well-maintained, older buildings. Sadly, many are closed and for sale. Interestingly enough, the red building pictured here is called Grandma and Grandpa's Place. (I guess it was just the Mom and Pop businesses that closed.)

We passed this little fellow as we walked through the downtown area reading signs in stores indicating the store's new location or the phone number of real estate office listing the space for sale. I didn't take the opportunity to ask, but it was my guess that he was wiping away a tear after seeing his favorite hobby shop closed.

One hopeful sign of an effort to bring people back to the downtown area is the work being done by The Friends of the Pulaski Theater. Built around 1911 as a vaudeville house and converted to a dry goods store during the Depression, it was revived as a movie house in 1837. I hope the efforts to restore this theater work and it becomes a place for movies and also live performances.

Another downtown beauty is the restored Pulaski Railway Station. Fifteen trains a day still travel the tracks through downtown Pulaski, but the station does not serve any passenger trains anymore. In the heyday of passenger service, this cart carried luggage from the train to waiting carriages.

One aspect of this building that caught Kate's eye was the roof. Seeing communities invest time and money in restoring their treasures is very encouraging.

Tomorrow we will take a tour of the station's new occupant, the Raymond F. Ratcliffe Memorial Museum.

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