As you stand here, with cars rushing by you, imagine what the roads in the Galax area must have been like when the City was incorporated in 1906. There were very few roads, and those that did exist were little more than muddy ruts.
Thinking Ahead.That's why the City's founders, being forward-thinking businessmen that they were, had obtained a commitment from the Norfolk and Western Railway to extend the railroad 2.7 miles from nearby Blair—before the first lot in Galax was ever sold. They understood how important the railroad would be for moving people and goods.
Galax's Railroad Heyday.The railroad had originally come to the region north of Galax to transport the lead and copper that was disgorged from the profusion of mines in the mountains. The extension of a spur to Galax, however, changed themix of products that moved out of the region. During its heyday, which began after World War I, the Galax Station served a very diverse group of businesses. These included furniture and mirror manufacturers, a milk condensation company, a weaving company, numerous farmers, and many others. For each of them, the railroad was a critical life-line to far away markets.
An Ending and A Rebirth.Times change. As the mines played out and improvements in roads opened up other transportation options for the people in the area, it eventually resulted in the closing of the railroad branch serving Galax. The last regularly scheduled train left Galax at noon on November 15, 1985.
Fortunately, that is not the end of the history. In 1986, Norfolk and Western donated to the State of Virginia the rights-of-way for the 57-mile portion of the rail bed between Galax and Pulaski. That land became the New River TrailState Park, which provides recreation for overone million people per year!