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City cooperates with roundhouse concerts

April 21, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- A series of monthly "Rock the Roundhouse" concerts have been scheduled for Martinsburg's historic railroad complex beginning Saturday with performances by 8 Lives Spent and Tom Fitzgerald, according to organizers.

Martinsburg City Council on Tuesday approved a request by the Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority to use the Caperton Station parking lot and the train station's bathroom facilities for the concerts, which are scheduled to run from 8 to 10 p.m.

City Manager Mark Baldwin told council members that roundhouse officials were aware of the need to meet certain requirements of the city's fire and planning departments in order to hold the events.

In an April 15 letter to Baldwin, Roundhouse Authority Administrator Rosetta Chiofalo said attendance at the Saturday evening concerts from April through August would be limited to 500 people in the Frog & Switch shop building of the 19th-century B&O railroad property.

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Chiofalo said there would be no on-site parking; she expected concertgoers to park downtown and use the pedestrian bridge that connects the roundhouse property to the city's train station.

Martinsburg Mayor George Karos said Tuesday that the city was not sponsoring any of the events.

In addition to the concert requests, Chiofalo told Baldwin that the Roundhouse Authority moved its annual celebration of the community's railroad heritage from July to the first weekend of October.

The heritage tourism site's crown jewel is an enclosed, cast iron-framed roundhouse, which is flanked by the frog and switch, and bridge and machine shop buildings that sit on 13 acres along Tuscarora Creek near East Martin and Race streets. The structurally restored brick buildings, including a second roundhouse, replaced shops that were burned in the Civil War. In July 1877, the complex was where the first national labor strike began, according to historical accounts. The second roundhouse was destroyed by a fire in 1990.

Baldwin said Roundhouse Rail Days, now in its 11th year, would coincide with Main Street Martinsburg's annual chili cook-off downtown, which is scheduled for Oct. 3.

Ticket information for Roundhouse Rocks concerts, tours of the complex and Rail Days is available at www.martinsburgroundhouse.com.

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