Last of Landis buildings moved to make way for railroad tracks

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 16, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
LANDIS — Few things weighing 30 tons will ever travel slowly across the railroad tracks in downtown Landis. The 110-year-old historic railroad depot is one of them.
A crew with Crouch Brothers House Moving Contractors spent much of Thursday moving the 60,000-pound building to its permanent spot at a future passive park.
Weeks earlier, the post office and old jail were moved beside the Landis Police Department on North Central Avenue, the site of the passive park. The post office was once a meat market, cafe and warehouse.
The buildings have to be moved from the corridor where the state plans to make room for a second set of railroad tracks for its high-speed rail project.
Vivian Stallings has lived in and around Landis her whole life. Stallings heard about the depot being moved and had to see the process unfold. Her grandson called to tell her the building was being moved.
She remembered picking up her husband from the depot in the 1950s on his way back from military service in Newport, R.I.
“This was a very important part of Landis. The train stopped here,” she said.
Stallings recalled how, when she was younger, the mail was picked up and delivered via the train.
There was a pole near the depot where the train attendant would reach out and grab the mail as the train was moving.
“They would also pitch one out,” said Shirley Lambert, a friend of Stallings, of the mail delivery.
Lambert said she just wanted to see it.
The depot has always been across the tracks since she was a child, Lambert said.
Arthur Abernathy went to watch the move starting at 8:30 a.m. “This won’t happen no more. This is history,” he said.
The passive park was the dream of D.C. Linn and his wife Frances. D.C. Linn died in 2009 after an automobile accident and his wife died a few days later.
Part of his wish was that the historic structures be placed at the passive park and be available for people to view and enjoy.
Abernathy said this is an example of progress.
“It’s nice of D.C. Linn to turn this into a park, and the buildings are being saved,” he said.
Landis native Fred Corriher Jr. said via email he recently realized that “there is no one living who can remember when the depot was not beside the tracks in Landis.”
In 1975, Corriher appealed to W. Graham Claytor, then president of Southern Railway System, to donate the depot to the Landis Community Foundation and allow it to remain in its historic location, he said.
Corriher said when the Community Foundation dissolved in the mid-1980s, he became the de facto owner of the depot until he donated ownership of the structure to the town more than a decade ago.
The move included help from Landis Power, Time Warner Cable, Windstream and Norfolk Southern.
Chuck Crouch, owner of Crouch Brothers, said including 40,000 pounds of equipment, he and his crew moved a total of 50 tons.
The moving process started days ago and began wrapping up Wednesday with the digging away of the old foundation and removal of the two chimneys.
Landis Public Power had to take down a few utility lines along with Time Warner Cable and Windstream before the depot could be moved and placed in its new location.
“D.C. was specific about where to place the depot,” said Landis Town Manager Reed Linn.
He wanted the property left as natural as possible, Linn said.
Recreation Director Andrew Morgan said eventually there will be plants, shrubs and other trees added, as well as pathways, benches and gardens.
The hope is to also add a bandstand or gazebo in the middle for outdoor concerts and events.
The town expects the park to be completed in about two years with the help of sponsors, grants and other private donors.
Once the structure has been placed, Dick Eller, of Dick Eller Masonry, will lay the foundation.
Eller said it’s required that the building be at least 18 inches off the ground.
He plans to make the stone work look “like it was in the old days,” Eller said.
Eller will also have to rebuild the two chimneys. The chimneys had to be removed so the building could go underneath utility lines.
He should be done within a week at the most, Eller said.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.