Chesapeake and Ohio Craig Valley  Branch circa 1930's

Olde Surber Station - where you can still find peace and quite.


Our Old-time Band

About 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 stop" station.

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 and cozy.

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 the evenings.

Click photos to enlarge.

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Surber stop on railroad

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Surber Station circa 1930

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Craig Valley steam train

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1930s wood stove and boiler

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Toots and Dennis Surber

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Bathing in Craig Creek


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