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Three new historical markers to honor local history, including 'Shoeless Wonders'

Shoeless Wonders

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has approved 10 news historical highway markers.

Three of those markers are going to be right here in the Heart of Virginia. One in Lynchburg, one in Danville, and the other in Nelson County.

The marker in Lynchburg will honor the "Shoeless Wonders Football Team" to remember the Presbyterian Orphans' Home. The team played their first game in 1922.

“The players, boys under the age of 18, received minimal coaching, wore second-hand uniforms, and soon began competing without shoes, except for a boot used during kickoffs,” the marker will read.

The team received national acclaim in 1926 thanks to newspaper reports and newsreels calling them the "Shoeless Wonders."

They were also featured in a "Ripley's Believe it or Not" cartoon.

The marker will also mention the team's undefeated success. Saying the team, "was undefeated for at least six straight seasons before 1931 and held opponents scoreless for at least five of those years."

This marker is sponsored by HumanKind, which was the Presbyterian Orphans' former home.

The historic marker in Danville will give a nod to the "First State Bank" which opened in 1919 as one of the few banks in Virginia owned by African Americans.

The bank, "issued loans to individuals, businesses, and churches, fostering a vibrant black community during the segregation era."

Maceo Conrad Martin, the bank's longtime officer and president was the only black member of a seven-man grand jury called during Danville's 1963 civil rights demonstrations.

Martin issued a long dissent against the indictment of the protesters and First State Bank posted bond for 20 jailed demonstrators.

Finally, the "Virginia Blue Ridge Railway" will be placed in Nelson County along the Piney River Depot, which used to be part of the railway.

The railway was built in 1915-1916 to transport lumber from industrial sawmills at Woodson and Massies Mill.

After both mills shut down due to the chestnut blight and a poor economy, the railroad was put to use again in the 1930s when several nearby mineral-processing plants began operating.

The mineral plants closed in the 1980s and the railroad tracks were removed.

These new markers will be the newest of the over 2,500 markers dotted all over Virginia.

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