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Trains run again at station

January 11, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

SHARPSBURG -- The Antietam train station along Sharpsburg Pike has had a varied - and sometimes threatened - existence over the years.

It was closed in the 1950s and at one time, railroad crews started to tear it down, according to members of a model railroad club working to restore it.

But the demolition crews did not have the correct permit for the work and the building was converted into apartments in the 1960s, members of the group said.

The building was in poor shape at times and Washington County government finally acquired the building, said Jeff Jones, president of the Hagerstown Model Railroad Museum Inc. at Antietam Station.

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The county gave it to the town of Sharpsburg and the town agreed to lease it to Jones' organization for $1 a year, he said.

The local model railroad club has had the building for about 10 years and club members have been restoring it, according to Jones and Frank Schaller, vice president of the organization.

Now the station is bustling with the train spirit again since the local railroad club has opened the building to the public.

Two weeks ago, the club started running model trains in the station and on Sunday, an open house was held so people could see the layout and the progress of the station's renovation.

Club members are planning another permanent model train layout in the building and a historical exhibit about railroads is being planned, club members said.

Bill Wellman, a Sharpsburg resident and member of the club, is excited about what the station can do for the town.

While adults come to town to enjoy attractions like Antietam National Battlefield, kids can come to the station for the trains, Wellman said.

"It will get the kids interested in history," Wellman said.

There was another train station serving Sharpsburg but fire destroyed it in 1910, according to an historical account outside the current station. The Norfolk and Western Railway opened the present station in 1911, the account said.

The station was renamed Antietam after two trains collided when an engineer became confused over the names Sharpsburg and Shepherdstown, according to the account.

A private owner of the current building at one time tried to move it and the station was turned around, putting a bay window that used to provide views up and down the track on the Sharpsburg Pike side of the building, club members said.

The restoration of the station was a tough job, given the apartment-style layout inside that covered the original design, Jones said. Drop ceilings were put in the building and paneling was put over the walls, Jones said.

Club members pulled down the drop ceilings and paneling, exposing original wainscoting walls and high ceilings, Jones said.

The original wide plank floors could be seen Sunday in the room where the train layout was operating and club members have decorated the interior with framed pictures of trains.

If you go

Antietam Station will be open to the public on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. for the rest of the month.

Admission is $2 for adults and free for those younger than 12.

Anyone interested in donating money for the continued renovation of the station or joining the effort may call Jeff Jones at 304-283-6630.

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