Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Railroad Gave Birth to a Town, a Hope Chest, and a Bank

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Railroad Gave Birth to a Town, a Hope Chest, and a Bank

Article excerpt

Chances are some bride in your family has owned a Lane hope chest that s become a bit of family history. You probably don't know that there's a bit of banking history tied in, too.

"This town grew up around the Lane company," says Robert H. Gilliam, Jr., president and CEO of The First National Bank of Altavista, a $303.4 million-assets bank in central Virginia. First National is owned by a publicly held one-bank holding company, Pinnacle Bankshares Corp.

Three Lane brothers ran a contracting firm that drove the Tidewater Railway through the area, adding an east-west route, primarily for hauling coal, to a north-south line in the area, which the new line crossed. The intersection looked like a good place to build a town, so the brothers bought 2,000 acres and soon Altavista was born. The brothers awarded free lots to encourage development, and First National was chartered, with Lane involvement, in 1908.

A few years later one of the brothers bought a box plant and set up one of his sons to run it. The company began with the famous cedar chests, and expanded over time. Lane itself, which no longer operates in the town, once accounted for thousands of jobs. …

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