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Tamaqua's trip back through time

  • JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS This reenactment of a 19th Century funeral procession was part of the 2008 Tamaqua Heritage Festival.
    JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS This reenactment of a 19th Century funeral procession was part of the 2008 Tamaqua Heritage Festival.
Published October 05. 2010 05:00PM

Tamaqua's 26th Annual Heritage Festival, to be held this Sunday, Oct. 10, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., will once again celebrate the history of the borough with a trip through time.

Held rain or shine during the fall foliage season, the festival is sponsored by the Tamaqua Historical Society and combines elements of local culture with activities for the entire family.

The festival encompasses about seven blocks of downtown area, all within the borough's National Historic District, and attracts thousands each year to the community, which serves as a 'Gateway to the Anthracite Region.'

"For many who attend festivals in Tamaqua, it is a time of homecoming, to get together with those who they have not seen since the last festival," said Dale Freudenberger, president of the historical society. "Many stay for the weekend with family and friends and visit the festivals together."

Train rides return

From trains to trolleys, bicycles to classic automobiles, all kinds of transportation are showcased.

Tamaqua's railroad heritage is highlighted with the scenic train rides offered from the restored 1874 train station. The train excursions are back, with three one-hour rides offered, beginning at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.

The 11 a.m. trip will leave from the station and head south to New Ringgold and back. The 1 and 3 p.m. trips are northbound to the famous "High Bridge" and back. All three rides offer spectacular views of the autumnal foliage.

Advance tickets are recommended.

For more information on the train rides and tickets, contact the Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerce office at 114 W. Broad St. The phone number is (570) 668-1880. Remaining tickets will be sold the day of the festival on a first come, first served basis.

Another railroad-based attraction is the refurbished station itself.

The former Philadelphia and Reading Railroad depot reopened in 2004 following extensive restoration efforts by the volunteer Save Our Station organization and is once again an active focal point for the community as well as a beautiful landmark. Tamaqua SOS displays rare, original newspapers from the Molly Maguires era inside the station.

The Tamaqua Train Show and Swap Meet will be held inside the Salvation Army Community Center, 105 West Broad Street, with dozens of vendors specializing in toy trains and railroad memorabilia.

A unique "steam whistle blow" will take place near the Five Points Intersection of state routes 209 and 309, with Brian Ferrence displaying and operating his large collection of original antique steam railroad whistles.

The Tamaqua Anthracite Model Railroad Club will hold an open house at its headquarters at the corner of West Broad and Nescopec Streets, with a display of a huge operating HO model train layout.

Wabash Dash

For those looking for competition, there will be a pair of races held the morning of the festival.

The inaugural Wabash Dash 5K Run/Walk will begin at 9 a.m. at the entrance to Odd Fellows Cemetery at the west end of town along Route 209. The race is presented by the Schuylkill Headwaters Association.

The Wabash Dash course proceeds along old Route 209 paralleling the Wabash Creek, through the village of Newkirk in Schuylkill Township.

The walk will take place along a one-mile stretch of the Schuylkill Valley Heritage Trail on new Route 209.

For more information on the Wabash Dash, contact Megan Blackmon at (570) 622-3742 extension 119 or email

Coal Cracker Classic

Mountain bike racing returns to Heritage Day in the form of the Coal Cracker Classic, which will start at the borough's Bungalow Park. Registration begins at 8 a.m. The race is sponsored by the Reading Anthracite Company, Spokes Bike Shop and the Eastern Schuylkill Recreation Commission (ESRC).

Preregistration and further information is available on the web at

For those who prefer a horse drawn trolley car ride, Leiby's Belgian draft horses return to the festival. The trolley rides around town originated with the Tamaqua Heritage Festival and are now a staple at many festivals throughout the region.

The Tamaqua Street Machine Association will once again hold an antique and classic car show on South Railroad Street. Registrations are accepted the day of the show at 10 a.m. with awards presented at 3 p.m.

Landmark tours

In addition to the train station, tours of Tamaqua landmarks, such as the historical society museum, the Burkhardt Moser 1801 log home at the rear of 302 East Broad Street, and the 1848 Hegarty Blacksmith Shop on Hegarty Avenue will be available. Blacksmiths Donald Campbell and Chris Opresko will offer demonstrations of their craft at the shop.

For train tickets, vendor registration and information, contact the Tamaqua Area Chamber office at (570) 668-1880.

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