After the War: Cambria 1866-1899

1868-1870. The Virginia and Tennessee Railroad constructed in 1867 (completed and opened in 1868) the new depot as part of the rebuilding ofthe railroad under the leadership of its new president, General William Mahone. During this period, Mahone consolidated the Virginia and Tennesse with several other roads, forming the Atlantic, Mississippi, and Ohio Railroad. The alternate name for the AMO Railroad was "all mine and Ophelia's" Named after William Mahone's wife. It is said that Ophelia Mahone was an Anglaphile, and she named most of the depots, at least at the eastern end of Virginia, after British locations (towns, counties, villages, castles, etc.). According to records, Mahone began the reconstruction of his railraod on the east side of Virginia and moved west. Today, there are only three Virginia Tennessee structures left (Christiansburg--1867/1868; Rural Retreat --1868; and Abingdon 1869).

1873. The Bangs Post Office (original name of Cambria) opened near the depot. The Christiansburg Depot, in addition to providing passenger and freight service for Montgomery and Floyd Counties, also served as the transfer point for the resort at Yellow Sulphur Springs, six miles to the northwest, and Blacksburg via the Huckleberry.

1876. The A.M.&O. Railroad went into receivership. Purchasers of the railroad in 1881 renamed the railroad Norfolk and Western.

January 12, 1877. First major labor strike against the railroads and is often referred to as the "Great Railroad Strike." The strike was the result of railroads drastically cutting wages to offset financial losses earlier in the decade. As one observer noted:

"The strike," an anonymous Baltimore merchant wrote, "is not a revolution of fanatics willing to fight for an idea. It is a revolt of working men against low prices of labor, which have not been accomplished with corresponding low prices of food, clothing and house rent." (Digital History Project, 2010)

It should be noted that the date is open to question. A couple of sources identified the starting date as February 12, 1877. Many of the Pullman Porters who served the rail line between Roanoke and Bristol hailed from Cambria, as did many of the maintenance of ways workers. Indeed, there were strong ties between the depot and the African American community for nearly 100 years (1868-1960). For more information on the Pullman Porters, please see Lyn Hughes's An Anthology of Respect: The Pullman Porters National Historic Registry of African American Railroad Employees (Chicago IL: Hughes Peterson Pub., 2007). Hughes's book also include excerpts from Nikki Giovanni's "Train Rides."


January 14, 1878. In Hall v. Decuir, 95 U.S. 485 (1878), the United States Supreme Court ruled that common carriers (rail, ferry, riverboat, and other modes of transportation) could not discriminate based on race (13th Amendment) in interstate travel. The decision did not, however, stop railroad companies from discriminating. The Cambria Depot provides an example. The depot has two waiting rooms: one is a general waiting room on the trackside of the building; the other is a lady's waiting room (street-side). The waiting room on the street-side of the depot has far fancier woodwork and is removed from the immediate grime and noise of the rail yard. African American passengers boarded through the unheated freight house. When the 1908 station was constructed, it also had two waiting rooms, although the use distinction between the two of them was based on race rather than gender.

March, 1882. In July, a duel was fought near the depot by J. Stuart Crockett of Wythville and John S. Wise of Richmond. Both combatants arrived by rail with their seconds, having selected Bangs (Cambria) as a convenient middle point between their respectibve places of residence. The duel, resulting in no injuries, was fought a short distance up Yellow Sulphur Springs Road (now Cambria Street). The duel was Wise's last and led to his much publicized decision to fight no more duels (an example which was instrumental in ending the practice in Virginia).

Read more about the Wise-Crockett Duel: JOHN S. WISE WILL NOT FIGHT.; A SPICY LETTER IN REPLY TO EDITOR M'CARTY'S COMMENTS (New York Times, March 8, 1884)

1885. The community took the name of Ronald in honor of a local Confederate hero, Captain Charles A. Ronald, the leader of the Montgomery Highlanders ( Company E of the 4th Virginia Militia).

1892. The community changed the name from Ronald to Cambria. Some say that the name change was precipitated by Captain Ronald debunking with half the Town's funds, although there is no documentary evidence to support the story.



After the Turn-of-the-Century: Cambria 1900-1982---------->


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Historic Cambria Depot
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Last Updated: 8 July, 2015