Train depot celebrates Norge history

The Norge Depot is an unassuming building adjacent to the James City County Library on Croaker Road. But it’s a celebration of a grand history: The foundation of the Norge area.

The 34-by-89-foot depot was built in 1907, originally located at the end of Peach Street. It served as a hub for the original settlers of Norge, mainly Norwegians and Scandinavians moving east from Midwestern locales such as Wisconsin.

“The railroad was very important to the people coming from the Midwest,” said Paul Cieurzo of the Norge Depot Association. “This was how they got there.”

He said many of their descendants still live in the area. The depot closed to passenger traffic in 1969. In 2006, the county purchased it and moved it next to the library. In 2009, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Renovations finished in 2012, after which the museum’s doors opened.

“They managed to get quite a bit of railroad artifacts and set it up quite nicely,” Cieurzo said.

The interior is lined with pictures and clothing of the era. A caboose, nearly a century old, was added in 2015 and recently renovated as well.

“They did a nice job inside and outside,” Cieurzo said.

He said the museum’s busiest time is during Grand Illumination weekend, when Ford’s Colony hosts its annual model train show at the library. The event has drawn more than 400 visitors to the museum during the weekend in years past. The point of it all is to appreciate where we are now, thanks to our past.

“In today’s day and age, with the cars and the airplanes, nobody thinks about trains, but the railroad played a key role in the development of that area,” Cieurzo said.

Want to go?

The Norge Depot is open 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays and 2-4 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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