Global Advertising at No Cost
Ashland is a small town (pop. 7600), but its rich history, historic charm, proximity to Richmond, and easy access right off of Interstate 95 makes it attractive to visitors. But the vast majority of the country, and definitely the world, doesn’t know that Ashland exists! That has changed since the cameras were installed.
No matter what time of day, there are at least 200 people watching the Ashland cameras on YouTube. More importantly, they are talking about Ashland in the 24/7 Live Chat that accompanies the feed. As a moderator of the Virtual Railfan YouTube channel, I’m very familiar with the online community that has sprung up around the Ashland cameras. They even call themselves “Vashlanders,” short for Virtual Ashlanders.
Between the arrival of trains, our viewers watch the downtown like hawks. They regularly discuss the businesses that they see on the cameras and ask questions about them. Vashlanders who visit always talk about their meals at the Iron Horse, or Trackside, or what they picked up at Cross Brothers. Often while they are still in town!
- Tiny Tim’s Trains and Toys – our camera sponsor will tell you herself that she has seen a significant uptick in phone orders, even from overseas. These customers can’t wait to tell her that they discovered her shop via the cameras.
- Ashland Coffee and Tea – because of its proximity to the town’s busiest railroad crossing, a very unusual practice has come about. During the school year, a crossing guard stands at the intersection to wave the buses through so they don’t have to stop. Leroy Foster has become a celebrity in the Virtual Railfan world, and Vashlanders now keep an open tab at the Ashland Coffee and Tea by contributing money via the “Super Chat” feature on YouTube.