We're down to wooing "rail buffs."Railroading groups join to woo touristsBy Jenny Kincaid Boone
Tourism gurus have a plethora of options for marketing the Roanoke Valley and its surrounding areas as a worthwhile stop for out-of-towners to spend money.
Railroading is the newest push.
In March, the Virginia General Assembly agreed to tap the Roanoke Valley, Alleghany Highlands and parts of central Virginia as Virginia's Rail Heritage Region.
But they don't have all of the money they need. The next step is paying $1,000 to $2,500 to create signs with the region's new name and image of a train wheel, its official logo. The signs would go up on interstate highways and other roadways, said Bev Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation in downtown Roanoke.
a 7-month-old rail history museum in Clifton Forge is counting on the marketing strategy to revive interest in the faltering rail industry in the Alleghany Highlands.
In 1987, CSX Corp. closed the Clifton Forge Railway shops, which employed 4,800 people or about 80 percent of the area's work force. The closure was economically devastating, Tabb said.
Now, fewer than 200 people work for the railroad, he said.
Tabb said he hopes the appeal of the larger region's rail history will draw rail buffs to the small town of Clifton Forge, creating a new kind of "economic boom." [link]
How many are there across the U.S.? Dozens?
In an area that once employed thousands making things. And repairing things.
But no more. Now we hope to be a tourist attraction. Like those Indians who sell blankets on the side of the road, hoping to make a few bucks a day.
The rail industry may be a thing of the past - there's no avoiding that.
But we could have avoided the loss of all those tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs had we not handed them to China.
Now we look for a benefactor to help pay for signs that pay homage to the area's past.
Reminds me of a cemetery.