In this issue...

New Mexican Grocery
Opens in Cambria

Are you looking for that perfect hot sauce, for Mexican cornbread to go with your pot of Chili, or for a variety of sweetbreads for dessert or Sunday brunch? We have the perfect store for you.

Tienda Mexican La Nayarita just opened at 1035B Cambria Street NE (in the Better Signs building, next to Green Dragon Yarns). They are open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. According to the new owner, they carry everything from tortillas and cookies to juices and sauces.

We can tell you that their white corn tortillas are great for enchiladas, and they have the right sauce for what ever you are cooking.

Stop in and welcome them to the neighborhood.

Depot Street Water Project
Gets Underway

For those of you who thought you were either going to end up wandering around the back streets of Christiansburg or taking lenghty detours...good news. The Town of Christiansburg has redesigned their Depot Street Water Project plans and are keeping one lane of traffic open (complete with a couple of flaggers) for the majority of the project.

The Town started the project this week on the stretch between Hans Meadow and Lester Street, and they are expecting that portion of the project to take approximately 3 weeks (although you may need to add a bit of time for weather delays given the storms in the Gulf).

They will still need to close Depot between the Cambria Street/Depot Street intersection and Holmes (up the hill, going towards the Christiansburg Aquatic Center) late in February or early March, but the redesign should minimize the need for extensive detours.

We sincerely thank the Town for their willingness to redesign their approach to allow traffic to continue to flow through downtown Cambria.

For more information on the project, check out the project news page on the new Christiansburg website, and while you are there, check out the new website and let the folks in the public information office know what you think.

The Cambria Depot
Railroad Memorabilia &
Miniature Sale
October 26th & 27th and
November 23 & 24th

The folks at the Historic Cambria Depot Museum are removing some of their railroad memorabilia and miniature furniture from their collection. The collection includes a broad range of documentary artifacts, from time tables, training manuals, switch wiring blue prints, depot prints, historic maps, photographs, 1950s model railroad cars and engines, and a whole lot of other stuff.

In addition, they are also selling some of the minatures and select tools from The Scale Cabinetmaker. This is the first time Helen and Jim Dorsett's miniatures have been available for sale in Virginia.

A special drawing for an original, signed and framed Earl Palmer photograph. The drawing will take place on December 7th, during the 25th annual Christmas in Cambria celebration. Purchase $50 or more from either the memorabilia and miniatures sale, from the Cambria Toy Station (the museum shop), or from Dorsett Publications, and your name will automatically be entered in to the drawing.

The proceeds from the sale are going towards the re-restoration of the Historic Cambria Depot. For more information, call 540.382.6431 or keep an eye out here for additional news.

The Cambria Emporium
Turns 25

The antique dealers at the Cambria Emporium are gearing up for a major birthday. The Cambria Emporium turned 25 this year and the the dealers are planning to "put on the Ritz" for the Christmas In Cambria celebration, December 7th and 8th. Planning for the big weekend is currently underway, so watch this space for all of the event news and plans.



Welcome to Historic Cambria:

Cambria is the history of quiet lives in a quintessential railroad town. The mayor better known for his photographs than his governance. The minister better known for his models than his sermons.

It is the history of the rest of us....

  • No "great" events happened here. No wars were started here; no treaties were signed here. The original depot was burned by Averill's troops in 1864, and there was a dual fought here in 1882, but that was about it.
  • No "great" people were born here. Thomas Jefferson never visited. Captain Charles Schaeffer built a church and a school for the African American community at the top of the hill; Washington Carver taught at the Christiansburg Institute just down the tracks; and there is a rumor that Elvis used the facilities at the depot a couple of times, (he hasn't been sighted since), but that was about it.
  • No "great" inventions were created here. No printing presses or flying machines or radios. That's not to say that nothing was made here. The Phoenix Furniture Company churned out side chairs; the land ownership rolls listed blacksmiths and wheelwrights, cobblers and jewelers, and a host of other craftsmen and tradesmen.

If Jeremiah Kyle hadn't insisted that the railroad come through Montgomery County to provide a way to ship coal from his mine at Merrimac, Cambria would never have grown up around the station, Christiansburg and Blacksburg wouldn't exist in their current permutations, and Virginia Tech might have been located elsewhere.

Palmer's Store. Earl Palmer, the last mayor of Cambria, is best known for his photographs. Many of his photos are on exhibit on the third floor of Christiansburg Town Hall, at the Cambria Depot, in the Virginia Tech archives, and O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke.

While Cambria is a bit off the beaten track these days, in its heyday, it really was the center of Montgomery County. From 1868 to 1960, the Cambria Depot was the shipping point for all the goods coming into and leaving Montgomery and Floyd Counties, including the Towns of Christiansburg and Blacksburg. Every Sears mail-order house and Wishbook gift; every letter and package; every rug and factory chair and wedding dress sold by the mail order firms from New England to the West Coast; every Model T and Stutz Bearcat; and every secret decoder ring came through the Cambria Depot.

From 1868 until 1908, the Cambria Depot also served as the passenger station, including during the height of immigration. The depot and Cambria welcomed the miners from Wales and Czechoslovakia, farmers from Germany and Ireland, cabinet-makers and home-builders, masons and seamstresses. The languages spoken in the freight-house were as diverse as the last names in the County. In 1908, the Norfolk and Western built a new passenger station on a site east of the old depot and on top of a small spring fed pond (and we wonder we have water problems) an the old depot was converted to a freight station and a maintenance of ways & engineering office.

In its heyday, Cambria boasted of five mercantiles and general stores, a china shop, a notions shop, the Phoenix furniture factory, a grocery store, a couple of banks, more than a couple of hardware stores, three mills of various types, a creamery, four hotels, and more than its share of bars, brothels, and pool halls. While Cambria, like most railroad towns, went through a period of decline, a renaissance over the past 30 years has make Cambria a thriving neighborhood and a great place to visit.

Come and explore the unique shops and the history, and if you listen quietly enough and let your imagination take over, you can still hear the songs of the gandy dancers, the rumble of the steam engines, and the jingle of coins.



Website published by Dorsett Publications, LLC
Historic Cambria Depot
Questions or comments: Cambria Historian
Last Updated: 6 October, 2013