Calling All Railfans

Bevell’s annual running of the trains in Blackstone.

Starting Nov. 25, thousands of railroad buffs from around the state will make a beeline for Blackstone, a small town in Nottoway County, for the annual Christmas Holiday Train Display at Bevell’s Hardware on the corner of High and Tavern Streets.

This is no ordinary toy train set up. In the 30 years since Bevell’s began creating the display, it has grown into an 18-foot by 56-foot behemoth comprising more than 10 trains, bridges, lights, scenes of farms, local businesses and even a circus and amusement park. There is so much to look at, one hardly knows where to begin. A model ferris wheel makes its slow rotation while a carousel nearby cheerfully spins and a roller coaster methodically ascends the track before spiriting its tiny passengers down with a whoosh. Army trucks and tanks are at the ready in a replica of nearby Army National Guard base Fort Pickett, and in the background of it all is the constant chugging of the tiny engines and the soulful toots of train whistles. It could take hours, maybe even days to take it all in.

“We have an electronic counter on the door, which clocks our visitors. Last year we had around 32,000 visitors and we’re expecting about the same this year, between the day after Thanksgiving and the second week in January,” says store owner Robert “Bobby” Daniels Jr.

It takes more than two months to assemble, explains Daniels who pulls it off with assistance from his son Robbie and a team of friends from the community (population 3,500). Bobby’s wife Lynn, with help from their daughter-in-law Ashley, constructs many of the intricate scenes throughout the display.

“It’s become very involved,” says Daniels, who has collected trains his whole life and began the display as a way to entertain his children. “In 1978 or 1979, I started with one piece of plywood. I don’t really have a favorite part, but we’ve made the tables better and changed up some of the scenes, as we do every year, so I’ll be excited to hear what people think.”

This year, the running of the Bevell’s trains begins on Nov. 25 and continues until January 8, 2017. (The store is closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day.) The trains will run Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Open to everyone and exciting for all ages, the Bevell’s running of the trains is an exciting reason to visit the Blackstone area and enjoy one of the most traditional festivities of the season. Admission is free, although donations are accepted to benefit the Blackstone police and fire departments.

While you’re in town, be sure to check out these other Blackstone events:

Nov. 25 at 6:00 p.m.

The Grand Illumination of holiday lights at Seay Park is part of downtown Blackstone’s holiday open house. The Robert Carriage Museum will be welcoming visitors while Santa Clause makes a special appearance.

Dec. 9 at 6:00 p.m.

This year’s annual Christmas parade through downtown Blackstone will incorporate as its theme the classic film It’s A Wonderful Life. Each year, winners are chosen among the participating floats, performers and marching bands.

June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum