Thanks to U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, the City of Martinsburg, W.Va. has received a $300,000 grant to restore the historic roundhouse there. The grant is no guarantee of success, but it will be interesting to watch Martinsburg's restoration effort with an eye on what might have been in Hagerstown.
In Hagerstown, a volunteer group labored to save Hagerstown's historic roundhouse for 10 years, but despite many encouraging words, when it came time for elected officials to make a commitment, they backed away. In contrast, Berkeley County officials voted to buy the Martinsburg structure from CSX Realty for $150,000.
But the starkest contrast between the two jurisdictions may be that the Berkeley County group's commitment to save the 1866 structure came prior to any decision about what it will be used for. Possibilities include a Civil War history museum or a center for new businesses, but such a commitment on this side of the river would have required at least two consultant studies and a set of architectural drawings.