When the Nicholson Heritage Association received the good news that they had been approved for an $821,276 grant from the Department of Transportation’s TAP program to make renovations to the town’s historic DL&W Railroad Station last November, they were excited, but not optimistic about the chances of having the station renovated in time for the 100th Anniversary Bridge Day Celebration that kicks off in Nicholson on Friday.
Before any renovation work can begin, the Heritage Association had to do a historical review, which is now complete, and an environmental review, which is currently being worked on at PennDOT’s Dunmore office.
This has held up renovation efforts, and has prevented any work from being done on the station before Bridge Day.
Nonetheless, while there won’t be any planned activities going on inside the station during the celebrations, guests will get to meander around the outside of the station while visiting a locomotive cab that will be housed outside of the station during the event.
Josh Stull, who is on the management team of the Nicholson Heritage Association, said when reached on Wednesday, Sept. 2, that “Steamtown will be sending the locomotive cab to the station on a wide-load trailer.”
“Ideally the cab will draw people to the station,” said Stull, “but they won’t be able to actually go inside yet because it isn’t ready.”
Nonetheless, Stull hopes that a crowd presence around the station, which is the oldest station on the line, will help drum up even more excitement about the renovations and improvements which will likely begin in the Spring.
“The station was once the center of town in Nicholson,” said Stull, “and we’d like to see it reassume that role.”
Construction began on the DL&W Railroad Station in 1849, and from 1851 to 1915 it served as both a passenger and freight station.
With the completion of the Tunkhannock Viaduct in 1915, a new passanger station was constructed at the north end of the bridge. Consequently, the DL&W station became exclusively a freight station, and remained so until 1971.
Thanks to the then abounding agricultural and dairy industry in the Nicholson area, trains carrying milk and dairy frequently passed through the station, loading and unloading goods for and from the town’s five creameries.
“This station is historically significant in a variety of ways,” said Stull, “especially concerning the railroad and agriculture industries that define the history of our area.”
‘The station was also the most populous and profitable station on the line,” Stull continued, “and frequently brought in more revenue than three or four other stations on the line combined.”
Prior to the DL&W Station’s closure in 1971, during its tenure as a freight station, “it was the last remaining such station in service on the line.”
After renovations are complete, the station will serve as a museum and information center, documenting the history of the Nicholson station and the regions rail road history more broadly. It will also reflect some of Nicholson’s non-rail road history, and feature the people and events that constitute the history of the town.
“I imagine it as a place where people can come together to enjoy a historic landmark of our community,” said Stull, and it can serve as a meeting place for local residents as well.”
Stull also said that he hopes the renovated building encourages a network of rail road oriented tourism in an around Nicholson, which would be good for the local economy.
“I think visitors of Steamtown will be encouraged to come up Route 11 and check out the station, then, after visiting the visitors center and gift shop, will take the Viaduct Valley Way Scenic Byway (SR 92) up to Lanesboro to see the Starrucca Viaduct.”
This should encourage railroad related tourism, a prospect that excites Nicholson business owners like Marcine Carpenetti, who, along with her husband Ronald, co-owns the “Inn the Beginning Bed and Breakfast” in Nicholson.
“We were a little disappointed to find out that the station wouldn’t be ready for the 100th Anniversary,” said Carpenetti, “but these thing do take time. I’m just excited to see all the good it will do for the town when it is finally done. I imagine it will draw a lot of business to Nicholson, which is very exciting.”
Stull and the rest of the members of the Nicholson Heritage Association look forward to this as well, and can’t wait to see the DL&W Station, a beacon of the history of Nicholson, be granted new life.
Bridge Day celebrations in Nicholson begin Friday, Sept. 11, and run through Sunday, Sept. 13.