Cambria Depot Museum
The Cambria Depot Museum is located in the front, trackside waiting room of the 1868 Tuscan Italianate, Virginia-Tennessee Railroad station, located in the Cambria Historic District in Christiansburg, Virginia. The Cambria Depot Museum features exhibits on the restoration of the Depot, the Cambria community, and the prototype models from The Scale Cabinetmaker and the celebration of modeling.
The Cambria Depot was built in 1868 to replace the original depot burned by the Union Army in 1864. The Tuscan Italianate design, with the center tower (cupolo), hipped roof, projecting eaves and cornices, and arch-headed and Serilian architrave windows, is one of only two wooden Tuscan Italiante Virginia-Tennessee Railroad depots left in the State of Virginia.
From 1868 to 1908, the depot served as both the passenger and freight station. In 1908, the Norfolk Western Railroad built a new passenger station and converted the existing station to a freight depot. The station was finally closed and sold as warehouse space to Cash Lumber in 1960. For nearly 100 years, the Cambria depot served as the main freight terminal for both Montgomery and Floyd Counties. In addition to the myriad of agricultural products being shipped out of the two counties, every Sears mailorder house and nearly every present from the Wishbook came through the Cambria Depot. Over the course of the 92 years, the depot also saw soldiers leave for four wars (the Spanish-American, World War I, World War II, and Korea) and saw soldiers and flag-draped coffins return home.
Indeed, for nearly a century, the history of the depot and the Town of Cambia is also the history of Montgomery County. The Altamont Hospital, the first hospital in Montgomery County, is located in what is now referred to as the Dew Drop Inn, across Depot Street. The first elevator in Montgomery County is located in the Lee-Surface Block (Cambria Emporium) across Cambria Street. In addition to the central postoffice, located originally in the depot, Cambria was home to three hotels, a furniture manufacturing company, three mills, an "ice" factory, three general stores, a jeweler, and a host of other small businesses. While most of the commercials structures have succumb to fire and old ate, many of the original structures still remain and are part of the Cambria Historic District.
The depot, in desperate condition, was purchased by Dorsett Publications in 1982 to serve as the corporate headquarters and the workshops of The Scale Cabinetmaker. In addition to the extensive rot caused by years of neglect, the Cambria Depot was hit by a train in 1981 which caused extensive damage to the freight-house. At the time of its purchase in 1982, the depot had a raze order on the front door. After nearly two and half years of privately funded restoration work, the Cambria Depot entered the National Register of Historic Places in December, 1985.
Since 1984, the Cambria Depot has remained the studio space for the Dorsett's and for The Scale Cabinetmaker, an internationally acclaimed miniature hobby publication. The prototype models, now on display, were created in the depot's studios. Many other models are on display worldwide, including an architectural model of the Stanley Whitman House (Farmington, Connecticut), now on permanent exhibit in the American Museum in Bath, England. Starting this next spring, the museum will be offering workshops in miniatures and in toy-making.