Presentation by RHS President Stephen D. Beck
Sunday April 2, 2:30 PM
Natural Bridge Elementary School
Free, with Reception to follow
Fried Green Tomatoes? The Whistle Stop Café?? If you’re interested in a touch of that era, and that type of a small crossroads town, come explore “The Heyday of Natural Bridge Station”: the Rockbridge Historical Society’s first quarterly program of 2017.
RHS President Stephen D. Beck will share a slideshow presentation, built on over two years’ research and local ‘crowdsourcing’ that illuminates the vitality of Natural Bridge Station in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including some of its neighboring communities like Twin Cities and Sherwood. Over many years, many families in the southern part of the County helped build its foundations. Among others, the Barger, Braford, Burks, Cash, Chiles, Clark, Paxton, Stoner, and Tolley took advantage of the times to commit their efforts and financial resources to advancing the local economy.
Natural Bridge Station was fundamentally shaped by the James River, the Kanawha Canal, and the coming of two railroads, along with other significant investments and industrial initiatives in the mid to late 19th century that would spur development in this vital corridor for the County. A growing road system and area mills, forges, and factories would shape a more coherent region connecting Arnold’s Valley, Springfield, Glenwood, Balcony Falls, and Fancy Hill.
Attention to this area helps to spotlight the continuity of families, as well as the growth and decline of broader social and economic patterns in the region and nation at large nation. Like other small communities RHS programs have recently explored, such as House Mountain, Denmark, and Alone Mill, Natural Bridge Station is another site that brings to light some of Rockbridge’s rich if sometimes hidden histories. With many of its physical remnants still evident today, the legacies of this tight-knit community and bygone era are worth exploring in person.
Stephen D. Beck is President of the Rockbridge Historical Society, and a former Executive for CSX Railroads, who earned his BA in History from Hampden-Sydney College and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He notes: “I’m excited about this presentation for many reasons that touch our County history, but two personal stakes stand out in particular. I live nearby and am a member of the Glasgow Ruritan Club. In addition, my wife’s family, the Burks, have played a part in the development of Natural Bridge Station before and after its heyday. Investigation of that family and its connection to many others highlighted in the program has been a rewarding experience in its own right. And none this could have happened without the unstinting support of many local residents who have shared their genealogies, photographs, and family histories for us all to enjoy.”
With this first quarterly program of 2017, RHS is shaping a year that will continue to witness a range of Rockbridge experience, by balancing both broader topical themes, and spotlighting some outlying local communities. We’ve identified a slate of speakers and continue to assemble resources for presentations in June, September and November that center on Collierstown, Goshen, and the experiences and memorials witnessing Rockbridge’s involvement in World War I, during this centenary year of Virginia’s entry into that global conflict.
For more information on these and other RHS programs and activities, call 540.464.1058, email email@example.com, or Like us at facebook.com/rockbridgehistoricalsociety.