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Amtrak Rail Passenger Station (C&O Passenger Station)
This small railroad station stands in virtual isolation, and the hamlet it ostensibly serves never had a population over fifty. It exists solely because Beckley, Raleigh County's seat of justice and the area's trading and commercial center, had no direct rail service. The closest approachable point was here, on the Fayette side of the New River, ten curving, downhill miles northeast of the city.
A dapper little frame station served until this streamlined Moderne confection replaced it.
Railway Age, which described the building in full in its July 13, 1946, issue, noted that the station “deliberately avoids exterior ornamentation in an effort to achieve a type of structure with more enduring popular appeal.” The interior achieved popular appeal with a large photo mural on one end wall showing railroad cars loaded with coal and with a terrazzo floor containing a circular panel depicting the familiar sleeping cat “Chessie.” Chessie, the C&O's logo from the 1930s through the 1970s, suggested that service was so smooth a passenger could “sleep like a kitten.” The New York Herald Tribune also reported on the station. Except for the original seating, described it in one account as “six streamlined wooden benches … with plastic-fabric back cushions,” which have been replaced by chairs, everything is still there, including Chessie. Closed except when the Cardinal, the Amtrak passenger train, comes through, the Prince Depot is a rare architectural treasure. Although intended to be a seminal building, it was the only one of its type ever constructed.
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