An exhibit of The Dinky Railroad will be held beside the Stuart Pavilion at JEB Stuart Birthplace, 1091 Ararat Highway, Ararat 2 p.m., on Saturday, September 23, and you are invited to participate.
“Come help us drive a few railroad spikes on the Original Dinky railroad track,” organizers said. “Learn about the Mount Airy and Eastern Railway at the Laurel Hill Farm, the Birthplace of the Civil War
General James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart and see the new exhibit about the narrow-gauge railroad that came by the site from 1899 until 1924.”
Photos and a model of the Dinky will be displayed.
The special guest is Thomas D. Perry, historian and author of A Dinky Railroad: The Mount Airy and Eastern Railway,” which tells the story of the Mount Airy and Eastern Railway, a narrow gauge “Dinky” railway that ran from Mount Airy, North Carolina, to Kibler Valley, Patrick County, Virginia, from 1899 until 1924.
The text of the sign appears below:
The Mount Airy & Eastern Railway, also known as the Virginia and North Carolina Railroad nicknamed the “Dinky,” was a narrow gauge (36” inside track to track) short-line railroad that ran from Mount Airy, North Carolina, to Kibler Valley, Virginia, between 1899 and 1924. The Dinky started as a logging railroad carrying logs and lumber from Kibler to the sawmill at the depot in Mount Airy. After a short time and due to demand, passengers, mail, and dry goods service opened the local stops along the way. For Dinky Stations, see Map Exhibit A. Passengers enjoyed Sunday excursions to White Sulphur Springs and the Danube Church in Kibler Valley, where the railroad even took a circus to the banks of the Dan River. The Dinky weaved its way through the beautiful countryside following the Ararat River, Clark’s Creek, Fall Creek, and the Dan River, keeping close to water to fill its coal-fired boiler.
You are standing in front of a recreated 24′ section with the original Dinky railroad track unearthed during a recent excavation ¼ mile away and generously donated by the Brown Family. To your left, below the railbed, you can see what is believed to be the original wagon road from Mount Airy, North Carolina, to Taylorsville, Virginia (present-day Stuart) that J.E.B. Stuart used. When the railroad came through, it is believed they graded the roadbed you see in front of you. After the railroad declined and went broke, possibly due to a catastrophic weather event in 1916, and unable to recover. It is believed when the railroad ceased operations in the mid-1920s, the tracks were pulled up, and the commissioner of the roads moved the highway from the wagon road to the lesser-grade railroad bed. It remained here until the late 1930s when the newly formed VDOT straightened the road. All three transitions can be seen on the 1948 aerial map Exhibit B.
Around the bend, the Dinky crossed the current Ararat Highway. In the field below the JEB Stuart Grocery was the Pedigo Stop with a wooden station platform. You can still see the outline of the roadbed in the 1948 aerial map Exhibit B. In the house lived Dr. David Floyd Pedigo, grandfather of Porter Bondurant and Carrie Sue Culler, who did an interview discussing riding the Dinky as children. You can watch the interview video at JEBStuart.org. Also living there was Joseph Reed Pedigo, brother to David, who was Postmaster for “The Hollow Post Office” which was located at the home from 1872-1916 when it moved to the top of the Hill at the intersection of The Hollow Road and Ararat Highway. The Dinky had a daily mail service to the Pedigo Station. Lewis Pedigo, the father of Dr. David and Joseph, the county surveyor, moved his family to “The Hollow” in 1853 after purchasing 400 acres of land next to the Stuarts. It is safe to say the Pedigos were friends with the Stuarts because they signed as witnesses on legal documents for Mrs. Stuart upon Archibald’s death.
(Submitted by Mary Dellenback Hill. Written by Chip Bondurant, and Author Tom Perry.)