The red brick, Italianate Tamaqua Railroad Station was built in 1874 by the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. An addition was added in 1880 and a freight house attached in 1885. It was used as a stop over as passengers traveled from Williamsport to Philadelphia and other eastern cities. The last passenger train left the station in 1961. It was abandoned in 1980 and damaged by fire in 1981. It then survived numerous demolition threats and was eventually restored through the efforts of both the Tamaqua Historical Society and the Tamaqua S.O.S (Save our Station). It is now a heritage center and host of the Tamaqua Station Restaurant, a gift shop and creamery. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
In 1831, the
Little Schuylkill Railroad completed a line that ran between Tamaqua and Port
Clinton, a distance of 21 miles, that initially used horse-drawn passenger and
coal cars. This was not only the first
line in the region, but one of the first in the country. Steam locomotives were utilized starting in
1833 and the Little Schuylkill built a large engine/round house in Tamaqua in
1857 that had room for 21 locomotives as it expanded its anthracite coal hauling
and Reading, which was founded in 1839, then built a modest depot where the current
station now stands. However, it was
destroyed by fire in 1873 and the company built a new station at the same
location the next year. This new station
incorporated a two-story concourse, restaurant, separate men’s and women’s
waiting rooms, ticket office and restrooms.
The interior used gas lighting and a series of six fireplaces for heat. They, along with the chimneys, were removed
in the 1920s with the arrival of steam heat.
It also featured hardwood floors, wainscoting and plaster walls. In 1881, the Depot Square Park was built
adjacent to the station and featured gardens, trees and a fountain. At its peak in the early 20th
century, the station handled 40 trains per day as people headed to and from
east coast cities.
In 1896, the
old roundhouse was demolished for a more modern facility and the station itself
was remodeled in 1915. In the 1930s, the
restaurant closed and during World War II, the station served thousands of
soldiers and recruits as they headed off to war. Eventually, trolleys, other forms of public
transportation and automobiles ushered in the decline of passenger service on
the railroads. In 1950, Depot Square
Park was sold to Bell Telephone and the station ended passenger service in
1961. The building was used for
administrative purposes until 1980 when it was sold to the Borough of Tamaqua
and then abandoned.