Yes, that was Clinton Lucas Jr., mayor of the Virginia town of Shenandoah, dressed as an old-fashioned engineer from the fabled Norfolk & Western railway. And there was a darned good reason for it.
Lucas donned the garb to cut the ceremonial red ribbon opening the Town of Shenandoah Welcome Center and Museum, the product of the vision of volunteers and officials in the Page County community.
In October 2021, Shenandoah Town Council voted to use American Rescue Plan Act funds to purchase the building at 507 First Street as a welcome center for visitors, and a way to display an extensive collection of items that showcase the N&W railroad, town history and the USS Shenandoah. Engineer Lucas performed his duties in late June, and the response has been very positive.
The building, a one-time mill, has several rooms devoted to various themes. It’s only natural that N&W artifacts occupy a prominent place, as the building is adjacent to the Norfolk Southern Railroad, the only working railyard between Hagerstown, Md., and Roanoke, Va.
There is a military room, a town history room and a sports room, as well — Shenandoah native Wayne Comer played baseball in the major leagues for four teams, and some of his memorabilia is on display.
Museum Curator Joyce Fluharty says a room reserved for genealogy and research is an important part of the project. Photos go back to 1845 and family collections can aid researchers looking for information on relatives and their role in the community. “If you are looking for a picture from Shenandoah, this is a good place to start,” she says.
The Welcome Center and Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays. Fluharty says the museum is always on the lookout for additional donations relating to the town, its people and its history. Reach out to her at [email protected] for more information.