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Train station restoration on track in Lansford

Historians, preservationists and community leaders will get a look at the original blueprints for the former Lehigh and New England train station on Dock Street in Lansford Wednesday night.

The steering committee for the station restoration hopes to move forward its plans for the nearly 100-year-old building by first looking at its past, said Bruce Markovich, Lansford council president and historical society vice president.

The original blueprints, which came to the historical society from an anonymous donor, show many original features erased or hidden by time, such as a half-moon window above the main doors and the light fixtures that illuminated them, he said.

The public is invited to view the blueprints and share their ideas from 6 to 8 p.m. at the station.

“Needless to say for those of us in the history profession this is akin to hitting the lottery,” Markovich said. “The original prints are going to be used to guide the restoration of the station back to its original grandeur.”

Most of the building’s features, such as towering, second-story windows or ticket areas, are covered with blocks or buried behind drywall, he said. Some, such as one of the original passenger ticket windows, have already been revealed, while others are waiting to be rediscovered, Markovich said.

The building transitioned into an industrial use after passenger and freight service ended more than six decades ago. The previous owner, Ken Hill, took care to preserve or save original fixtures, many of which are hidden in storage areas in the building, Markovich said.

On a walk-through Monday morning, he picked up a dust-covered, glass light fixture, surmising it once domed one of the bare bulbs above. More are likely tucked away with original wood molding and possibly doors - just waiting to be discovered, he said.

Through an open doorway upstairs, natural light streamed through the windows on the west side of the building in an area that could serve as a community room in the future, Markovich said.

The building would need an elevator to allow access for everyone to the second floor, but they’re already making plans for one, he said.

The restoration project won’t happen overnight, he said. They’ve sought a $96,000 gaming grant, and got estimates to power wash the inside and outside of the building, Markovich said. They also want to remove old electrical breakers and panels from the machine shop and open up the covered windows, he said.

The passenger rail service side of the building will be turned into a museum, while the freight/shop area will likely house mixed commercial businesses, Markovich said.

“This is going to be restored back to its original condition,” he said. “It’s going to be used as a history museum to tell the story of railroading here in the valley.”

Doors for freight and express offices off the west side of the building will open to a park one day, where two outbuildings will be removed, Markovich said.

The station could once again be a hub in the community with ample parking and access to other attractions, including the No. 9 Mine.

Markovich said they already have many people on board.

In addition to the historical society, the Carbon Chamber and Economic Development, Carbon Career & Technical Institute, and the Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau are involved, he said.

“We have a host of partners here,” Markovich said.

He expects many of those partners, as well as others, to have representation at Wednesday night’s event.

A rendition of the Lansford Station Project after the original windows, doors and other features are restored.
Lansford Borough Council President Bruce Markovich talks inside the former Lehigh and New England train station on Dock Street in Lansford, where a public viewing of the original blueprints of the 1925 building will be on display Wednesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m.
A blueprint of the back of the former Lehigh and New England train station on Dock Street in Lansford, showing now covered doors where people would exit to board trains bound to New York and other locations.
The outside of the former Lehigh and New England train station on Dock Street in Lansford, where a public viewing of the original blueprints of the nearly 100-year-old passenger and freight station will be on display and aid in the restoration of the building. KELLY MONITZ SOCHA/TIMES NEWS