Stewartstown’s historic rail station: ‘Hopefully, we get things going soon’
This timetable shows stations on the Stewartstown Railroad during its heyday when it ran from Fawn Grove to New Freedom on the Pennsylvania Railroad. The hub was Stewartstown and thus the railroad’s name. Background posts: Freight locomotive ‘telescoped’ runaway Stewartstown railroad car, Northern York County strawberry part of Neapolitan county and ‘Yesteryears’ Southern York County sites – Part II.
Preservationists in Southern York County put forth good news recently.
They expect to re-open the Stewartstown Railroad station on a limited basis in late August.
When they do so, they will join similar efforts in nearby Muddy Creek Forks (Ma & Pa) and New Freedom (Northern Central) to restore historic stations or related facilities.
These efforts are far preferable to allowing such landmark buildings to deteriorate and eventually force demolition… .
Before the Stewartsown Railroad stopped running in 2004, it provided excursion service to school students from Stewartstown to Shrewsbury.
Stewartstown preservationists can learn a lot from their counterparts in Muddy Creek and New Freedom.
In Muddy Creek Forks, limited rail service is offered as part of the historic site. The New Freedom station serves as a rail trail hub, resembling the role it performed during its railroad days. New Freedom greeted Northern Central passengers as the first stop north of the Mason-Dixon Line. And it was the last stop before passengers plunged south toward Baltimore.
Those involved in the Stewartstown project should explore a rail trail link with the main county trail in New Freedom. Restoration of full excursion service is costly and would never draw the types of crowds who use area trails.
Indeed, a recent group of Lancaster residents visiting the York Daily Record/Sunday News commented that York County is way ahead of their home county in development of rail trails.
Preservationists in Stewartstown – and Muddy Creek Forks and New Freedom – should be commended for their restoration efforts.
Rail trailing is the most cost-effective means of reusing historic rail corridors.
These efforts are making Lancasterians salivate (and we hope ride our trails) and York countians perspire (and our waistlines need that).
Both are desirable.
A York Daily Record/Sunday News story (7/22/08), written by Eugene Paik, on the re-opening of the Stewartstown station follows:
About four years after its doors were shut, the historic Stewartstown Railroad Station is expected to reopen to the public on a limited basis around late August, according to rail officials.
Work to repair rotting sections of the building’s roof might start in the next few weeks, said David Williamson, interim president of the Stewartstown Railroad Co.
After the fixes are made, the station will serve as a museum during certain hours on weekends, he said.
“Hopefully, we get things going soon,” Williamson said.
The Stewartstown Railroad and its station closed in 2004 largely because the company’s revenues could not keep up with operating costs.
The rail had been a fixture in the Stewartstown area since 1885, overcoming a hiatus forced by Hurricane Agnes. The storm washed out the connecting Northern Central Railway in 1972 and disrupted freight service on the Stewartstown line.
Service was restored in 1985, and tourist rides were the main source of business.
The station, built in 1914, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The roughly 7-mile track, however, is not.
The rail company, which continues to operate, is working with the nonprofit group Friends of the Stewartstown Railroad to restore the building and tracks.
Williamson said the cost of the roof repairs — once thought to be about $9,000 — could be cut in half with teams of volunteers doing most of the construction.
So far, he said, 10 volunteers with carpentry experience have been found. A roofer familiar with rail preservation will oversee the project.
Eric Bickleman, a board member of the company, said two grant applications have been submitted to preservation organizations.
It could be a year before trains run again on the rail, he said.
“There’s quite a bit of work that needs to be done,” he said.
The price to rehabilitate the track is still unknown, Williamson said, but it could cost less than $100,000.