Davis & Elkins Unveils Center for Railway Tourism

Date Posted: 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

ELKINS – Davis & Elkins College announced today it is launching a Center for Railway Tourism in the Fall of 2012.

In remarks to the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, the new Director of D&E’s Center for Railway Tourism, James D. Porterfield, said the initiative will create a “first-class educational and support center dedicated to developing and sharing the knowledge and human resources needed to insure the future success of the railway tourism industry.” Porterfield made the announcement following a presentation by John Smith, President of the Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad.

Davis & Elkins College President G.T. ‘Buck’ Smith noted that the Center represents a new opportunity for the College’s Business program, specifically within its emphasis on Hospitality and Tourism. Smith commented: “Railway tourism is growing quickly throughout the West Virginia Highlands. Through his enterprising initiatives, John Smith is building a previously unimagined rail network with a potential annual economic impact in our region of $50 million. Our students, particularly our Highland Scholars, will be able to prepare for the possibilities such growth will bring, cultivating the knowledge and business skills to pursue their own entrepreneurial instincts.”

Dr. Carol Carter, Chair of the College’s Department of Business, Economics, Hospitality and Tourism Management, added that D&E’s program recognizes area students’ desire to create opportunities close to home. “There will be internships and courses, scholarships, career guidance and mentoring for students. Moreover, our excellent conference facilities and services will provide railway tourism businesses and agencies with the materials and programs for greater public outreach and networking resources.

Commenting on possibilities reaching beyond the campus, Carter said: “We envision a wide range of educational and entertaining programs for those with an interest in railway heritage and preservation, such as film festivals, art and literature events, and topic-specific annual conferences.”

Porterfield, the Center Director, is an experienced and well known expert on railway tourism and history. He is currently a marketing instructor at The Pennsylvania State University and has published numerous articles and essays in popular rail magazines, including Railfan and Railroad magazine.

Most recently, he managed a new website devoted to rail history, travel and preservation sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Heritage Travel division. Titled “Journeys for a Railroad Tourist,” this Gozaic Circle includes a weekly blog, events calendar, comments and discussion forums, movie and book recommendations, and a changing array of site and article links.

A popular speaker, Porterfield has been welcomed at gatherings as diverse as the Tourist Railway Association Inc. (TRAIN) and the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners, at The Children's Museum of Oak Ridge (Tennessee) and Amtrak's Chef Certification and Training Program, and among passengers on the American Orient Express and attendees at the annual Penn State Altoona Railroad Heritage Conference, which he organized and hosted. He has appeared both locally and nationally on radio and television to talk about railroad history, rail dining, and rail travel.

Related to the Presbyterian Church (USA), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, DC. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.