But don’t rush right down to the Backstreet in West Jefferson to see if you can spot it coming around the bend. This Virginia Creeper will be at the newly restored 1904 Courthouse in Jefferson and it is coming to life before your eyes in HO gauge.
It is the creation of a devoted band of men reliving their childhoods – when they used their imaginations to make toys and model airplanes and had a grand old time doing it. It began as a vision by Jerry Brown, president of the Ashe County Historical Society, who most agree is the supervisor of the project. The vision was to depict four of the towns that the Creeper passed through on its route through Ashe County: Tuckerdale, Lansing, West Jefferson, and Elkin (Todd).
They started with authentic period pictures. The two ends of the line (Tuckerdale and Elkin) are being depicted in the mid 20’s and 30’s while in the middle Lansing and West Jefferson will be recreated in the mid 40’s and 50’s. In some cases, buildings will be changed from existing kits with similar features, but structures like the Tuckerdale Hotel and depot and the West Jefferson Hotel will be fashioned from scratch. In all cases the replicas will be as close to the original as possible.
The challenge is that HO gauge is 1 foot equals 87 feet. “I started using regular glasses to see with,” said Craig Miller, “but now I’m up to four power magnification.” Within the confines of this gauge, the merry band of modelers will bring to life a house with a hornet’s nest under one eave, a Bud Ray look-a-like standing in front of Ray Hardware, flickering moonshine stills, boys pushing over an outhouse and many more whimsical scenes which the viewer will want to discover.
An additional treat is the interactive board display which will have descriptions of the towns and buttons that will light up the scene when pushed. An authentic train bell from the period will hang over the doorway into the train exhibit with a working train whistle next to it.
This is all taking place in the “train room” at the Museum of Ashe County History, created from the former historic 1904 Courthouse.
So, get ready, Ashe County, you’ll soon be able to enjoy the sights and sounds of that special Virginia Creeper era along with the many other fascinating and historical exhibits at the museum. Exhibit expected to open by Christmas.
For more information, call 846-1904.
(Information by Carol Williams)