Weatherly to host Train Works Festival and Hill Climb
AL ZAGOFSKY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS The Rotary Foundation managed the Weatherly Train Works project until it was purchased by the Borough of Weatherly and turned over to the Committee to Restore and Preserve the former L.V.R.R. Engine Shop. Members of the Rotary Foundation of Weatherly are: left to right - Jack Koehler, Al Knepper, John Wigand, and Gary Makuch - President of the Rotary Foundation.
For fun, history and hot-wheeled excitement, head to Weatherly this weekend for two must-see events.
The Weatherly Hill Climb is an automotive challenge to best times on a winding one-mile uphill course.
The Weatherly Train Works Festival offers lots to do as a fundraiser to help convert the enormous historic Lehigh Valley Railroad Shops into a civic center complex.
The Third Annual Weatherly Train Works Festival is Sat., Sept. 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 19 from noon to 5 p.m., and is held behind the Weatherly Train Station on Wilbur St. in Weatherly.
The event features: tours of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Shops and exhibit of artifacts with historian Jack Koehler, violinist Paul Riffin, the Eckley Players, the Switchback Railroad display, photographer Art Heim, woodworker Gary Makuch, Native American display, chair caning, stained glass artist John Warda, and chain saw carver Chris Demars.
For kids of all ages, there will be an alpaca area, a model train display, and food and drink booths. There will be a photo op with a replica steam engine. On Sunday, a Duck Race will allow people to bet on their favorite bath toy as it races down the Black Creek.
The Engine Factory was built in 1867 by the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and the out-buildings followed. The complex closed in 1892, when the master mechanic died and the LVRR redistributed its manufacturing, with their engine work transferring to Sayre. During it period of operations, the Weatherly Engine factory produced 80 locomotives.
The Weatherly works continued to repair railroad equipment until it closed in 1910. In 1913, the complex reopened as the Weatherly Steel Company and the Weatherly Steel Castings Company. The former caboose building became the pattern shop. The companies closed in 1989.
About five years ago, a speculator bought the LV Shops building for taxes and then put it on the market for sale. Because of its historic value, the Weatherly Rotary and the Weatherly Library raised $75,000 and obtained a $125,000 loan from the Mauch Chunk Trust as a down payment to buy the property. They have been paying the mortgage since squiring the property.
The Weatherly Borough recently purchased the property with the help of a Federal grant. Now, the Committee to Restore and Preserve the former L.V.R.R. Engine Shop is raising money to restore the building.
Committee president Gary Makuch said the complex has three buildings: a large locomotives building, a smaller building where cabooses were made, and a dispatch office.
This year, the festival will feature A Taste of Weatherly with three Weatherly restaurants: Weatherly Country Inn, Tracy's Restaurant, and China Jade.
The Weatherly Hillclimb marks the season finale for the 2010 Pennsylvania Hillclimb Association as cars race against time up Buck Mountain Road. Events run on Sat. Sept. 18, with registration from 7:30 a.m. to noon, instruction and timed runs take place to 4:30 p.m., and on Sun. Sept 19, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For information, see: www.pahillclimb.org.