Words by Jenny Lynn Davis | Images by Al Blanton
The Bankhead House and Heritage Center held a reception last Tuesday to mark the opening of its newest exhibit, “Riding the Rails.” The exhibit is a tribute to the profound impact that the railroad industry had on Walker County.
The exhibit features a wide range of memorabilia that showcases the history of the railroad industry, including a conductor uniform, photos of old train depots in Walker County, hand lanterns, Morse code telegraph machines, a bench from an old depot, and more. Visitors can explore the exhibit and learn about the various roles that railroads played in shaping the local economy, culture, and way of life.
“Railroads are the reason that Jasper and many other communities in Walker County exist, so through this exhibit we want to give a history and honor the significance of the railroad to our County,” said Pat Morrison, member of the Bankhead House and Heritage Center’s Exhibits Committee.
Carl Goforth and Don Earley, retired fourth- and second-generation railroad workers, respectively, loaned many items from their personal collections to the exhibit.
“The railroad is what brought my family to Walker County, and we now have a fifth generation working in the railroad industry,” said Goforth. “It’s hard to find anyone in this county who hasn’t been impacted by the railroad in one way or another, so I think this exhibit is very meaningful.”
“I’ve been a railroad guy and seen this kind of stuff my whole life, but I think it’s nice for people who otherwise wouldn’t see it, and that’s why I contributed the things I did. People should know the history of the places they live,” said Earley.
“Riding the Rails” is on display now through April 21, admission is free and open to the public for the duration of the display. WL
The Bankhead House and Heritage Center is located at 800 7th Street W. in Jasper, and is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on the third Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.