ST. ALBANS, W.Va. -- When driving through St. Albans, you can't help but notice a 1924 Chesapeake & Ohio Railway caboose sitting in David and Becky Bailey's backyard.
It's been sitting there since the early '90s and has welcomed a myriad of visitors ever since. At Christmas time, it's decorated with lights and the inside walls are adorned with photographs that showcase the caboose's history.
The caboose will be featured in the St. Albans Historical Society's 21st annual Christmas Homes Tour, which allows visitors a chance to explore six historical St. Albans homes. The Baileys' house has been the only stop on the tour that has been featured every year since the tour's inception.
The tour will begin Saturday at the St. Albans Historical Society building on Fourth Avenue and will end at the Bailey home. It also coincides with the Cunningham Cemetery luminary display.
"Each year, we welcome visitors to our caboose," David said. "If the weather is nice, we can expect upwards of 300 people. The back of the caboose is the best spot to see the luminary display ... nearly 25,000 luminaries is a sight to see."
It's not just the caboose. Half of the Baileys' garage is dedicated to a Christmas Village, a project that Becky spent days on.
"It gets bigger every year," Becky said. "I've spent more than 60 hours putting this thing together."
The Christmas Village features an assortment of pieces -- everything from a bank to a ballet studio. Becky said there are 63 pieces in her collection and has been collecting pieces since 1983. Her original pieces, a train and a train station, sit in the middle of her display. An LGB-model train, which was manufactured by Ernst Paul Lehmann Patentwerk of Germany, circles through the village.
"We are going to have to add another table next year because Becky's collection has grown," David said. "We will have Christmas dinner in the garage because it's good to be surrounded by the Christmas Village. The grandkids love it."
Becky says Christmas is one of their favorite times of the year. She and David began decorating in mid-October. Although the couple has decorations throughout their property, the caboose and the Christmas Village seem to be crowd favorites.
The caboose is popular because of the history that comes alive when walking through it.
The Hocking Valley Railroad in Athens, Ohio, began constructing the caboose in 1924 and it was completed by the C&O the same year. The C&O had acquired the Hocking Valley in the '20s.
"This is the last red wooden caboose that was on a Class 1 railroad in regular revenue service in the nation," David said. "That means something to me."
The 30-foot-long and 8-foot-wide caboose was retired in the mid <#146>60s and was placed in storage until 1975 when it was brought to St. Albans.
In 1985, David received a phone call in which he was asked to use his caboose in the filming of the "Matewan" film. "Matewan" was released in 1987 and dramatizes the events of the Battle of Matewan and a coal miners' strike in 1920. The filming began in 1985 and took place in Thurmond.
"Thurmond resembled Matewan and that is why it was filmed there," David said. "It took a couple months to film it and I actually have a part in the film. It was neat."