Davis & Elkins College, in Elkins, West Virginia, is at the center of a number of exciting railway heritage and tourism sites. These include the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, a premier excursion operation; Cass Scenic Railroad, a page-out-of-time treasure portraying the logging industry of a century ago; the Durbin Rocket and its Castaway Caboose program; the Potomac Eagle excursion; and a number of nationally prominent rail trails, such as the Allegheny Highlands Trail, the Greenbrier Trail and the North Bend Trail.
The founders of the College, Henry Gassaway Davis and Stephen B. Elkins, were railroad builders, creating what became the Western Maryland Railway, and later, the West Virginia Coal & Coke Railroad. Both had operations in Elkins. The campus is dotted with a number of buildings they built for what was their summer headquarters. These include two mansions, known as Graceland and Halliehurst, the Gatehouse, and The Icehouse, all of which are part of a National Historic Landmark District, and continue in use.
To take advantage of these resources, as well as the facilities on campus, the Center offers a number of programs for the railroad heritage and tourism industry and the public throughout the year. These include:
- The West Virginia Railway Heritage Initiative, a conference meant to increase awareness of the important historic and national role railroads play in the nation's history.
- The Railroad in Film, an undergraduate course celebrating the portrayal of railroading in feature films, documentaries, rail fan films and social media outlets. The course is offered in the evening to enable residents of the surrounding community to participate as well.
- As home to the American Society of Railway Artists (ASRA), a growing array of exhibits and activities celebrate the role of art in capturing and presenting railroad activity.
- Other initiatives include Reading 'n Railroading, a literacy and activities-based program for elementary school-age children; the West Virginia & Atlantic Railroad, an HO-scale layout being built on campus; and a custom license plate initiative devoted to railroad heritage as its theme.