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Renting out eight rooms…

September 30, 2017, 12:29 AM

So apparently, I spoke too soon when it came to the closure of The Inn at Afton.  You may recall that last month, I announced the closure of The Inn at Afton, based on a sign that said that the lobby and hotel were closed.  Elyse and I went down that way again on Wednesday, and one of our stops was to see how The Inn at Afton looked in the daylight after finally going out of business for good.  Much to our surprise, we found that the place was open again.  We stopped into room 211, which was being used as the lobby, and had a chat with the lady working inside.  As it turns out, the hotel is barely operational, with only eight rooms, all on the parking lot side, in service.  None of the rooms on the other side, which has a tremendous view of the piedmont, are in service.  I’m told that the remaining rooms have been stripped, and a walk past some of the first-floor rooms that are not in service seems to confirm this.  That means that out of 118 total rooms, 110 of them are out of service, presumably for being uninhabitable.  That’s an availability of 6.7%.  For that few rooms, it hardly seems worthwhile to remain open, but apparently, they do, likely out of habit.

Meanwhile, the room being used as the lobby smelled strongly of mold, and had visible mold and water damage.  Definitely an unhealthy environment.  We might have stuck around for longer and chatted with the very nice lady working there, but the mold smell was too much.  I imagine that the rooms that are still in service are just as bad, if they are willing to let the room that they’re using as a lobby become so bad.  Thank heavens for Orbit “Bubblemint” gum.  It got the mold taste out of my mouth.

So apparently, and much to my surprise, just when we thought that the book had closed on the operational history of the vintage businesses on Afton Mountain, there’s more to the Afton story to be told.

Otherwise, Elyse and I did some railfanning, plus got together with a few folks.  We did some railfanning in a place very familiar to me: Stuarts Draft, near the railroad crossing on Route 608.  This was part of the Norfolk Southern Shenandoah Valley Line.  There, they had some vintage signals for a switch entering and exiting a 5,842-foot siding that runs from just east of the 608 crossing to approximately one mile west of the next crossing, at Patton Farm Road.  The nearest milepost is 153:

Milepost 153

And here are the signals:

Vintage signals in Stuarts Draft  Vintage signals in Stuarts Draft

I’ve known of those signals ever since we moved to the area in 1992, and Elyse estimated that they’re likely older than me.

I also made an interesting discovery, in that there appears to be evidence that the railroad crossing at Route 608 may have been three tracks at one time.  There’s the main track that’s still there, then the siding appears to have once continued further west.  Rather than cleanly joining the main track, there’s a crossover, and then the siding track continues to a point shortly after the switch.  A derailer protects this area, as there is no bump post or anything at the point where the track ends:

The derailer, set to guide any vehicle that crosses it off of the tracks

Then I also found this, on the opposite side of the main track:

I don’t know what this track did.  It’s a very short section of track that ends within view of the camera, and there appears to be part of a switch at the end of it.  I can only assume that it’s been abandoned for a very long time, since I’ve always known the 608 crossing to be only one track.

Then we also got some photos of one of the crossbucks:

Crossbuck for northbound traffic (traveling towards 340)

All in all, not a bad time over by the tracks.

We saw Mom while we were down there, got together with Aaron Stone and his brother Evan, and then we all went down to Staunton to have dinner and do stuff.  Elyse and Aaron checked out the Masonic Building, which elevator filmer Andrew Reams made somewhat famous.  I had previously been to this building in April, and apparently, the joke was on Elyse.  While Mom, Evan, and I were chatting across the street, we saw Aaron come out of the building alone.  Then I got a phone call from Elyse, and she told me that she was stuck in the elevator.  Okay, then.  Thankfully, she managed to get herself out on her own just as I got over there.

However, the highlight of the day was during dinner at Shenandoah Pizza.  I saw my old Spanish I teacher!  It had probably been around 20 years since I’d seen her, and so that was pretty awesome.  Lots of catching up there.

Then after dinner, we parted company with Mom and dropped Evan off, and the three of us went to Waynesboro.  Was surprised to see what hideous shape that the old Leggett building was in.  I remember when it was Leggett, and then after it closed in 1993, it became Cycle Recycle, a bicycle shop, which moved from the building next door.  Now, the building had been mostly gutted, and it’s full of mold.  Apparently, there was an aborted renovation project, based on these signs:

Demolition permit.
Demolition permit.

Stop work order.
Stop work order.

I have no idea why the work was ordered stopped, because the cited section of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code describes the authority of officials to issue “stop work” orders, rather than the violation itself.  In any case, apparently the people followed suit, because the building was partially gutted, and left as is.  I imagine that at this point, the mold has rendered the building beyond economic repair.  You only have to approach the doors to get a good whiff of the mold.  Orbit “Bubblemint” gum to the rescue again.

Meanwhile, Elyse had gone to a nearby bar while Aaron and I checked out the back of the building.  Still pretty bad, though the ceiling was still partly intact in the back.  When we got back around, we headed over to the bar where Elyse went.  The bartender was pretty cool, as he said, “Oh, you’re with Elyse?  She’s a regular here!”  We spent a few minutes there while Elyse finished her drink, and then we headed out.

We eventually made our way to Walmart, i.e. my ex-store, and wandered around a bit.  The store had been remodeled twice since I worked there, including removing the floor tiles, and I didn’t see anyone from my time working there.  It really felt like I was at any Walmart, i.e. it didn’t feel like the store that I used to work in anymore.  That’s probably a good thing.

And that was about it.  A fun time was had by all.