Olde Surber Station
Hi, I'm Carol Surber Lewis. My husband Jack and I are the
owners of Olde Surber Station. My family has been on this
land since the 1800s. Hundreds of acres surrounding the
house were farmed by my great-grandfather and his many children.
The house is my homeplace, originally
belonging to my grandparents James and Alice Surber. We
call it Olde Surber Station because the railroad came through
the farm beginning in 1890, and Surber was a "whistle
My father, as well as
six uncles and one aunt, were all born in the house. They
lived here through the Great Depression, farming the land
and doing the best they could with what they had. Most of
the family eventually left the farm in search of easier
ways to make a living. One uncle, Dennis Surber, and his
wife Elizabeth (everyone called her "Toots") stayed
on the place and farmed it, and they weren't interested
in modernizing. They used the outhouse, heated and cooked
entirely with wood, bathed in a galvanized washtub in the
kitchen. They raised chickens, cattle, and hogs, and truck
farmed from their extensive garden. My two brothers and
I loved to visit the homeplace when we were young. It was
a fascinating place from a child's point of view-like history
in real life.
Jack and I built a small
house just down the road from the homeplace some years ago
and we retired here in 1997. After Dennis and Toots passed
away, Jack and I had the opportunity to acquire their place
as well. We've been working on the house renovation for
several years, with the idea of opening the house to visitors
who want to enjoy the seclusion and the many outdoor activities.
We've worked hard to keep that "time travel" feel
that I've loved so much through the years.
But one thing we realized
right away - the house needed bathrooms! One winter of using
that outhouse was more than enough! We have kept the outhouse
functional, however, as part of the history of the place.
Both of the bathrooms are my favorite places in the house
now. They are very "vintage" but extremely comfortable
In the interests of
preserving the flavor of old-timey life, we didn't put in
a dishwasher. Dishes are washed the old-fashioned way, in
the sink. There is no central heating. (Although we have added a few window air conditioning units to take the edge off the summer humidity.) We use open windows and fans in the summertime when
needed, and each room has a separate gas or electric heater.
And we haven't added satellite TV, thinking that TV is one
of the modern world's devices that is nice to get away from
every once in a while, just to remember what life was like
without it. However, because we are movie addicts ourselves,
we do have a TV hidden away in the parlor, with a DVD player
and VCR, as well as an extensive movie collection.
Special features that
are a combination of old-timey and high-tech are the radios
in the parlor and kitchen. They are reproductions of the
old-fashioned standup wooden radio that used to stand in
the parlor, and the little wooden tabletop models that everyone
used to have. We wanted old-fashioned radio programs to
come out of those radios, so my engineer husband came up
with a little radio transmitter and CDs containing hours
and hours of OTR (old time radio) programs in MP3 format.
He plays the old programs on a little MP3 CD player hidden
away in the parlor, and then transmits the programming throughout
the house, so the programs can be tuned in on both radios.
Talk about a feeling of "back in time"! We can
set that system up for anyone who might like to make use
of it. When my husband and I stay in the house, we like
to make popcorn and listen to the old radio programs in
Click photos to enlarge.
Surber stop on railroad
Surber Station circa 1930
Craig Valley steam train
1930s wood stove and boiler
Toots and Dennis Surber
Bathing in Craig Creek