COLUMN: Closing CSX Administrative Offices Huge Emotional Impact to Huntington

Updated 4 years ago by David Williams, HNN Freelance Correspondent
COLUMN: Closing CSX Administrative Offices Huge Emotional Impact to Huntington

Any loss of jobs is a setback for a community but the announcement that the CSX is pulling its' administrative offices out of Huntington carries an extra hurt with it.  Huntington has always been a railroad town.  The C&O (Chesapeake and Ohio) Railroad merged with The B&O Railroad to form the Chessie System which later became CSX. 

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said, "They’re people who are from Huntington, they’re natives of Huntington they didn’t just move in here.  These jobs have been here forever.  Huntington is a railroad town.  Huntington was created because of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, the forerunner of CSX.”

The truth is that many people did move here to Huntington because of the railroad and made their lives here.  My family moved to Huntington from Cumberland with many other families back in 1976.  Over the years, I have met many other people who moved here because of the railroad.  Without the railroad, I never would have moved to Huntington. 

My dad worked for the railroad for over 30 years.  Melvin Williams Sr. started working for the railroad in East St. Louis, Illinois.  He moved his family to Cincinnati, Ohio and Cumberland, Md. before settling in Huntington where he retired and died.  He retired as General Plant Manager of The CSX Huntington Locomotive Shop.

The move is an abrasive slap across West Virginia's  face.  It is a painful realization that the world has changed and is changing.  The coal mines and railroads that built this country are disappearing.  West Virginia has been hurt by the declining of the coal industry and now it is seeing the ripple effect as the loss of coal production is impacting other industries. 

For now, Huntington still has The CSX Huntington Locomotive Shop.  The shop appears safe in Huntington for awhile, but the loss would be devastating to Huntington if it should ever close. 

Our region has also been effected by the temporary closure of AK Steel in Ashland.  It is now known when the company will call back its' workers.  The declining coal industry has hurt the steel industry. 

Foreign producers from countries such as China, Brazil and Japan, are crowding the U.S. market with cheaper steel which has impacted AK Steel and other US companies. 

Pittsburgh was a city that faced dark times when the steel industry bottomed out in the late 80's.  The city has gone through a rebirth and is now thriving in  education, computer science, medical research, sports entertainment and boutique manufacturing. 

Huntington must keep moving forward.  Marshall University keeps growing and Huntington has a thriving healthcare industry.  Mayor Steve must continue to keep Huntington evolving.  The revitalization of Downtown Huntington is critical in bringing new business opportunities to Huntington.  Huntington will survive the loss of CSX jobs but it still hurts both economically and emotionally.  Even when new industries, companies, and jobs move into Huntington, Huntington will still miss the railroad.  Huntington has always been a railroad town...and at least in many of our always will be.

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