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Local railroad model draws international interest

By EMILY D. COPPOLA Bluefield Daily Telegraph
PRINCETON, W.Va. (AP) — A local replica is drawing people from across the globe even while in progress.
The work-in-progress railroad model, at the Princeton Railroad Museum, has already drawn in thousands of guests. Measuring at a whopping 22 by 16 feet, the model is something to behold.
“The farthest guests I’ve ever had were from New Zealand and Hong Kong. Both of them said that coming to see the model was a major part of their trip,” artist, Dan Hosier, said, “Both of them were here to see and learn about the American railroad and this project popped up online.”
According to Hosier, these two guests, and many others have told him that visiting the model was a “priority destination,” in their trip.
The model itself is both replications of places throughout the area and inspirational design. Places that can be spotted on the model include the Elkhorn tunnel, the Maybeury coke ovens, Pinnacle Rock, and the former tree on Crumbpecker Hill.
The entire project is Hosier’s “artistic representation of coal, railroad and lumber history in Southern West Virginia.”
Originally from Delaware, Hosier has found that through his building of the model he has come to appreciate Southern West Virginia in a way that he might not have otherwise. During his progress of the building, he has interviewed former coal miners, railroad workers, and lumber workers, on their history.
“What started as my artistic creation has been greatly inspired by those who lived and worked here specifically the old Virginian Railroad,” Hosier said, “After thousands of hours of research and hundreds of people I’ve talked to, it’s given me a much deeper appreciation for the local history and the coal that keeps our country running.”
Hosier has even recorded some of his interviews so that the voices of the men can be played in parts of the model itself. According to Hosier, the purpose of the interviews is to, “Learn the history that I can’t find in books and to learn their story.”
Of the model itself, Hosier is nine months into its creation. According to him, 80 percent of the piece is scratch built. In an example of this, Hosier has created the building in the model from scratch by hand, out of various cardboards, and other materials.
“By using local and organic materials, it’s saved me a lot of money on the project which also creates a more realistic effect though more time consuming,” Hosier said.
The specs of the model include a track elevation of 4.5 inches with over 300 feet of track. The electronics of the piece, which have been meticulously done by local Wayne Douglas, include 26 digital switches and separate lines for lighting, sound, and power.
With countless guests coming in and out of the museum, Hosier’s greatest enjoyment has been, “Sharing this with the thousands of people that have come through.” He also hopes that guests will have a positive take away experience.
“I hope people take away a greater appreciation for the railroad, the coal industry, and the timber industries, that put Princeton on the map and the hard work that it takes to make these industries run,” Hosier said.
For those interested, the Princeton Railroad Museum is open from 11 to 4 from Monday through Friday and from 11 to 5 on the weekends.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported me and have had patience. Thank you to those who have sat down and told me their stories. Thank you to the kids who have come to learn how to do this type of work,” Hosier said, “It’s a blessing to be part of such a culturally rich historical area.”
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Information from: Bluefield Daily Telegraph, http://www.bdtonline.com