Community members, train enthusiasts and historians spent a recent afternoon celebrating the 100th birthday of the historic Lehigh Valley/West Penn Train Depot Station. After finding a report from the Pennsylvania State Railroad Commission for 1912, historians estimated the depot station was built in 1912. They added that the rail line, which followed Lizard Creek, was built in the early 1890's and abandoned in 1953. The depot, originally located one half mile south of the the SR895 and SR309 intersection, was moved in March of 2004 to its current home located next to the Sovereign Bank along SR309 in Snyders in West Penn Township.
Brad Knapp, Lehigh Valley railroad enthusiast, flew in from Houston Texas for the celebration. "I grew up alongside the railroad and became very interested in the railroad," said Knapp, a Schuylkill Haven native. "Fellow historians and myself found it very difficult to find documented history or research pertaining to Lehigh Valley railroads. So we decided to do it."
"This restored station in its new location is a great source of pride for West Penn," said Curt Bailey, who donated the former depot to the West Penn Township.
For years, the 4-ton train station had been hidden away in the woods along Blue Mountain Drive as a way to protect it from vandalism. Even though the rail line no longer exists, Bailey, along with other organizations felt that the depot could be showcased at the busy intersection and possibly serve West Penn Township in a new capacity and maybe as a future visitor's center.
The Sons of Coaldale worked with West Penn Township Police to relocate the Victorian-style station to its current home. After the station was placed on its new foundation, the Tamaqua Area Community Partnership, West Penn Lions Club, West Penn Township and others combined to raise the $24,000 necessary to relocate the station and restore its exterior.
Historians consider the West Penn depot to be a rare and valuable piece of local history. "There are very few Lehigh Valley railroad buildings remaining," said Dale Freudenberger, President, Tamaqua Historical Society. "And this one is a beauty."
Knapp added, "Our website answers many of the questions most don't know." To view the report, related photos and related history about the depot and other area railroads, view the group's website at wix.com/onetechy/LVRR.