The Citizens’ Voice covered the Noxen Depot’s open house on January 31st, 2004, and published the following article the following day in the Sunday Voice.
 
   

All Aboard!
NBLT shows off the first phase of Noxen Train Depot's renovations
By Paul Ellis
The Sunday Voice

A moment before the last group of Saturday afternoon’s passengers unloaded, two black Percheron horses pulled alongside the Noxen Train Depot at the same spot the Lehigh Valley Railroad ran some 115 years ago.

Throughout the 1890s until 1961, rail passengers boarding in Noxen were accommodated on their journeys to Wilkes-Barre, Buffalo or beyond – but the real haul out of busy little Noxen was timber, tannery products and ice from nearby Mountain Spring Lake.

Today, after almost four decades of neglect, the train station has been receiving the mending hand of organizations restoring it to its original condition for use as a museum and community center for the greater Noxen area.

During Saturday’s open house at the Noxen School, more than 200 stopped by to check out displays of historical photographs and artifacts.  The sale of refreshments, baked goods, memorabilia and free, horse-drawn wagon rides up the road to the depot – sponsored by Luzerne National Bank – raised $2,000 for the renovation project and did exactly what Linda Thoma had hoped.

“They see what is happening.  They see us physically using the money and renovating the structure.  It’s not a dream.  This is for real,” said Thomas, executive director of the North Branch Land Trust, a group partnering with the Noxen Historical Community Association, Inc. and the Noxen Community Development Corporation, two entities also overseeing the refurbishment of the depot.

“The cooperation and support from the community and the partners makes the projects that much more successful,” she said.

Donated to NBLT in 2003, by Dave and Elaine Dembowski, the depot has been reinforced, secured, jacked up and made level – a far cry from its former dilapidated state, where part of the structure had collapsed, said project architect Margaret Bakker.

The first phase of work cost about $230,000, and a total estimate on the final cost is under $500,000, Thoma said, adding the next phase will begin in the spring and address needed interior renovations.

Now that the depot’s exterior is virtually completed, the project falls into the hands of volunteers to get the job done.

“We’re hoping to get friends of the depot and locals to donate their time on the weekends to the museum.  It will be much faster that way to finish it up,” she said, adding that the group just found a master electrician to help with wiring the depot.

Standing over a table by two wooden boards painted white with black letters that spelled “RAILROAD CROSSING” dating back to at least the 1930s, Thoma referenced the artifacts and gave thanks to an unnamed Noxen resident who had dropped by to donate them after they sat in his garage for an unknown number of years.

“People are now more willing to part with a piece of memorabilia they’ve been holding onto,” she said.

Also, the groups are working with a modeler from the Doylestown, Pa., area who in six months will have built a prototype of the Noxen Depot that will go on sale shortly afterwards as an affordable, limited-run wood model kit, she said, adding that orders for the model depot are already being taken.

Rick Koval, NBLT Land Protection Specialist, whose job is to facilitate resources conservation and preservation, urged everyone with any information about the depot to contribute to making its memory permanent.

“I’ve never met a lot of these Noxen people here today,” Koval said, standing alongside a double decker model train layout in HO and G-scale, six locomotives circling their tracks.  “The longevity here is pretty amazing.  Some are pushing 90 and they’re sharp.”

Over an elongated framed black-and-white photograph, Koval addressed a challenge confronting his group” attempting to identify about 20 people in the picture.

“Some of the old-timers are pretty shy to come to these events, so we’re going to personally go to their homes and see if they can’t recognize these faces,” he said.  “We’re talking 70 years ago.”

Photo caption:  Frank Harveys drives a horse-drawn ride from the train station.
Photo by Warren Ruda/The Sunday Voice 

QUICK INFO 

The North Branch Land Trust’s ‘All Aboard Committee’ needs volunteers to help plan and execute the rehabilitation, furnishing and operation of the station.

Those who would like to volunteer their time, money or memorabilia can call 570-696-5545 or e-mail noxen@nblt.org for information.

NBLT was formed nearly a decade ago to help protect the quality of life in the region.  For more information about the organization, call Linda Thomas a 696-5545 or e-mail her at Thomas@nblt.org.

 

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