| Railroading at the
Delaware Water Gap
By Mike Rotolo
On Saturday July 29, 2000 Members of the Lackawanna
Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical
Society Inc. saw a Norfolk/Southern freight train
pass by one of many stations subject to refurbishment.
The locomotive was a diesel road # 8950.
station, located on the Delaware River had overgrown vines and
shrubs, construction debris and road materials that had buried
what many consider a transportation jewel from the turn of the
Members of the Delaware Water Gap Station Restoration
Project of the Lackawanna Chapter of the Railway
& Locomotive Historical Society Inc. spent the
last 6 months cleaning up the site. On that Saturday,
25 of the members who helped on this project gathered
at the site to view the progress to date.
Delaware Water Gap Borough Councilmen Bob Clarkson
said, "To me, I see a lot just in the cleanup.
You couldn't walk through the door before".
The society is paying the borough $1 a year for
5 years while society members raises up to $1 million
dollars toward the restoration of the 1903 station.
One of the board members of the RLHS, Dr. Frank
Allen, had this to say. "This was the gateway
to the Poconos at the turn of the century".
In the early 1900's, people traveled by train from
Philadelphia and New York to stay at one of the
50 resorts, which dotted the Delaware River's landscape.
Dr. Allen also mentioned that this would be the
beginning of tourism in this country, second to
Niagara Falls at this time. Scanning peeling walls
in the passenger waiting room Dr. Allen said, "This
is a vestige of what used to be". And "I
love the Railroad. It was the best from of transportation
ever invented besides passenger ships. Now both
Chris Barbieri, Chairman of the Lackawanna Chapter
of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society,
Inc. showed visitors around the station, which was
previously used by the borough to store road materials
and as a place for contractors working on borough
projects to store construction materials. Those
items, plus the overgrown vegetation, had since
been removed from the grounds.
In the freight station, two large overhead doors
are now operational. This building has a large freight
room, which was used to store passengers trucks
and large items to be shipped were stored; a small
freight room; and a parcel room. Only the parcel
room needs to be cleaned up.
Collected items like bits of the structure, which
is necessary for restoration and stone window lintels
and bricks, is stacked in the building.
Inside the train station, the elegance of a bygone
era is still in evidence. The beauty of the terrazzo
marble floors, scarred from construction materials,
can be seen in a circular test cleaning spot. Muriatic
acid reveals pink marble surrounding terrazzo squares.
The borough did all they could to keep out the
vandals, but unfortunately a lot of the architectural
items were taken. To name a few, the chandeliers
are gone, the architectural brackets from the ceiling
corners. Even some stone wainscoting from the mailroom
and a thick slab of slate, which was used in the
woman's bathroom stalls, has all disappeared.
Even though the Boy Scouts used the passenger room
to play basketball in the 1960's, we have a good
idea of what it looked like, so we can restore it
to it's original conduction.
Barbieri, also noted that this station was "built
for the ages", "All of the other stations
on the Lackawanna run were made of wood."
When this station was built, the railroad president
recognized the growth of tourism in the Poconos.
They decided they need a really nice station, because
of this a concrete and mason block foundation, marble
flooring, stone, bricks, walnut, and slate were
They wanted "tourists" to get off at
a station that was the best they could give to them.
Question---Why try to save a dilapidated structure
Answer---Chris Barbieri said, "As a rail organization,
from a narrow perceptive, to see the station saved
as historic reminder of what the railroad did for
the community. As an economic benefit, we believe
the whole area by the river can be turned into a
public use area.
Nature activities, educational purposes and a meeting
site all come to mind. The group also plans for
a museum on the site. Barbieri also said, "We
see it as an undeveloped resource, without the station,
it's just a piece of land. With the station it can
be used as a meeting place".
During the directors meeting, the group decided
to cover a portion of the roof with tin roof and
other sections with tarp to winterized the building,
thus allowing time to concentrate on fund-raising.
Much work is being done to restore the once rail
service between Scranton, PA and New York City,
NY. I will be working on information on how this
process is coming along.
At this time, I would like to thank Dr. Frank Allen
and Chris Barbieri and their members of their organizations
for all their hard work on their many projects.