Kiosk will showcase history

Published 11:32 am Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The town of Victoria’s first kiosk will showcase its history and the importance of the railroad to the community.

Installed at the curve where Sixth Street meets Railroad Park near the caboose, the kiosk now stands without its lighting or planned interpretive panels in a concrete and brick plaza, complemented by new park benches.

The kiosk and plaza are part of the town’s ongoing second phase of a streetscape project that began in 2008, said Town Manager Rodney Newton.

“The design of it is kind of geared toward the railroad history and then what there’ll be (are) four interpretive panels that will be on this kiosk that will have pictures of the history of Victoria,” Newton said.

Victoria was the halfway point of a Virginian Railway passenger line that ran between Roanoke and the port town of Norfolk. The park is founded on a former train maintenance yard and features a bright red caboose built in the 1950s.

The park offers picnic pavilions, restrooms, playground equipment, a volleyball court and horseshoe pits. A short rail-trail runs through the park and offers access to the much longer Tobacco Heritage Trail, which spans southern Virginia.

“We will have the ability,” Newton said of the town changing the information on the panels. “It’s pretty much finished except for the lights and the panels.”

The location is advantageous because of the number of residents and visitors the park attracts, he said. It’s also within walking distance of businesses on Main Street.

“It’s to give a glimpse of the past of what Victoria was and the vital role that it played in the railroad and the lives of people in the community,” Newton added.

“I think that would be really good,” said William Glass, a painter who lives in town, regarding the kiosk. “I think it’s great.”

Glass, who recently moved back to Victoria, said it will afford him the opportunity to learn more about the town’s past and the impact the railroad had on it.

“I think it’s a good thing,” said Megan Gonzalez, who works at Uptown Coffee Café on Main Street and lives in Victoria. She said the businesses’ patrons seem to have a keen interest in history of the town.

According to Newton, the town is planning to hold a ribbon-cutting and unveil the kiosk during Autumn Days on Oct. 8.

The second phase of the streetscape project has netted improvements along Main Street between Seventh and Fifth streets — similar to those done at Main Street between Eighth and Seventh streets, and Seventh Street between Main Street and the Victoria Railroad Park during the first phase.

Completed in 2013, the first phase featured construction of the pedestrian plaza on Main and Eighth streets, improved sidewalks, installation of decorative street lights, crosswalks and trash cans.

Like the first phase, the second has included new and replacement sidewalks, curbs and gutters, pavers, landscaping, crosswalks, more ornamental lighting and site furnishings, such as benches, bicycle racks and trash receptacles.

The entire streetscape project will cost a total of approximately $1.3 million, with 80 percent of the financing coming from federal funds and the town responsible for the other 20 percent.