Boones Mill Man Builds Model of 1950's Version of Town to Help Save Depot

Boones Mill, VA - Mike Smith is hoping his scale model of the town of Boones Mill as it looked in the 1950s will help pump new life into a life size piece of history.

For more than a year there's been a drive to save the historic train depot in the historic Franklin County town.

Smith is one of the residents that is determined to save the historic depot, and thought he would add to the fight to save it by building the model for all to see.

The project took six months, more than $2,000, and help from a lot of people.

"There's such a good interest. The town and the people of the town are really interested in the way it used to be," Smith said.

His motivation is two-fold: He wanted to bring awareness to the plight of the potentially doomed depot, and he also wanted to map out exactly where old Boones Mill used to be.

"I kind of wanted to leave some history once I'm gone. There's not many people in the town that really knows the history the way it was when I was growing up in the 50's,"Smith said.

To complete his project, Smith had to track down a lot of the town's old timers. Among them was Betsy Richards, 83, who has lived in the same house since she was two.

"Mike had told me about it and I think it's wonderful," Richards said. "I may have lived in the town longer than anyone else. There are some older now but I'm 83 and have lived in the same house for 81 years."

So far, Smith says, the idea seems to be working. It's helping to bring together sides that have drifted off during the relocation discussions, and Smith is optimistic it will eventually be displayed in the train depot itself.

"We hope it helps a lot," Smith said.

Smith says it's his understanding two big developments are on the horizon for the depot.

First, a suggestion to move the building just a few hundred feet down the tracks that could satisfy Norfolk Southern's concerns.

There's also a suggestion, by a mediator, to turn the building into a multi-use building to include historical interpretation, rental space and a library.