Ashland, Ashland: The Story of a Turn-Of-The-Century Railroad Town

  • Publish Date: 1994-02-14
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Author: Rosanne Groat Shalf

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Ashland, Ashland is the story of a nineteenth century mineral springs resort and race course in Virginia known originally as Slash Cottage. Developed by the Richmond Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad Company in the 1850s, the town became the site of a Confederate cavalry training camp at the beginning of the Civil War. Later in the war, it was filled to overflowing with refugees fleeing the fighting in Northern Virginia. Ashland even figures in a supposed plot to kidnap President Lincoln near the end of the war. Close to bankruptcy by war's end, the town and the resort were saved when Randolph-Macon College decided to relocate their school in Ashland to be more accessible to potential students by train. By the turn of the century, the town was so successful that Jay Gould decided to run an electric streetcar line from Richmond to Ashland, which, along with the RF&P's Accommodation Train, helped the town develop further as a classic streetcar suburb. The dark side of the town's story includes a major embezzlement scandal, a race riot, and a murder mystery that remains unsolved. But there are also heart-warming stories of housewives feeding the railroad hobos, a dignified college president standing up to hate-mongers, and neighbors helping neighbors through the difficult days of the Great Depression. Woven throughout the story are first-hand accounts from newspapers of the day, diaries, letters, memoirs, and oral histories about what it was like to live in Ashland. The author has combined these personal anecdotes with primary and respected secondary historical sources to present Ashland's story in the context of broader historical patterns. Close to one hundred and fifty photographs illustrate Ashland's changing face. The book includes an extensive index, footnotes, and resource information-the first-ever-compiled list of Town Council members from 1889 to the present.

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