Bill Lynch, Kelley Libby, Mason Adams Published

A Model Train Club Faces Uncertainty

A massive model train set is shown. A man watches one of the model trains on the track chug along.
The Kanawha Valley Railroad Association’s headquarters in Charleston, West Virginia's Coonskin Park.
Zack Harold/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week, we hop a tiny train to discover the miniature wonders of a West Virginia model railroad club that now faces an uncertain future.

We also visit Madison, West Virginia — a former coal community that’s looking to reinvent itself. 

And we visit a cemetery in Bluefield, Virginia and learn how racial segregation extended from cradle to the grave.

You’ll hear these stories and more this week, Inside Appalachia.

In This Episode:

Model Train Club Coming To a Crossroads

Model trains are a symbol of American childhood. You can probably picture it. A circle of track, some plastic trees, a few diecast cars sitting at the railroad crossing.

Well, the model train setup in our next story takes things to a whole different scale. Folkways Reporter Zack Harold brings us the story.

Coal Towns Look To Reinvent

Appalachia’s coal industry has had a pretty good last couple of years, all things considered. But a growing number of places have lost coal altogether. And after decades of relying on it, they’re trying to figure out what’s next. 

West Virginia lawmakers established a grants commission last year, to funnel federal dollars to coalfield communities. WVPB’s Randy Yohe visited Madison, West Virginia, to hear about its efforts to build a new economy, after coal. 

Appalachian Writers Workshop To Return

Last summer, torrential rains brought flooding and destruction to parts of Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia and southwestern Virginia. Among the communities hit was the town of Hindman, Kentucky — home to the Appalachian Writer’s Workshop at the Hindman Settlement School. When the floods began, the writer’s workshop was midway through its weeklong session. Several campus buildings were damaged, but all of the students and faculty there eventually made it home safely.

The school announced plans for this year’s Appalachian Writers Workshop. Inside Appalachia Producer Bill Lynch spoke with workshop organizer Josh Mullins about the flood and the upcoming workshop.

Segregated Cemetery Remembered And Restored

Bluefield is a small town on the border of Virginia and West Virginia. For decades, on the Virginia side, graves of the Black residents who helped build the community were neglected in the town’s segregated cemetery. And it might have stayed that way if it hadn’t been for the efforts of one persistent woman whose family was buried there.

Folkways Reporter Connie Bailey Kitts reports.


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Otis Gibbs, Del McCoury, Tyler Childers and Amythyst Kia.

Bill Lynch is our producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi also helped produce this episode.

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Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.