Moving Of Train Station Proves Big Event In Hamlet
Posted April 4, 2003 5:08 a.m. EST
HAMLET, N.C. — A huge piece of railroad history was shifted 210 feet Friday in the city of Hamlet.
A 103-year-old, 400-ton train station was lifted off its foundation and carried to a safer place for passengers.
People lined the streets as if waiting for a parade -- a parade with no bands and only one float.
"I'm real enthused about seeing this move," said a voice in the crowd.
All eyes were fixed on the old Hamlet railroad station as it was lifted up and rolled south.
Once in place at its new location, the station will be restored and reopened for passenger service, office space and a national railroad museum.
The new foundation includes a 5,000-square foot basement. Plans for the restored depot also include banquet facilities for the town.
The classic all-wood depot long has been the pride of Hamlet, even back when 95-year-old Ina Welch was a little girl.
"We went North, South, East, West . . . with passenger trains," Welch said. "It was delightful."
Pushing and preserving the past will cost Hamlet $7.3 million. Most of that will come from federal grant money, and the state will pay a portion.
The rest of the money came from Hamlet, with the help of Fairview Elementary School.
"We came here to watch the train station get moved," said Fairview Cole Griffin. "We have been selling doughnuts to raise the money."
The hope of downtown Hamlet was riding along with the station on the wheels that carried it down the road. City leaders said they expect the station to draw tourists, travelers and employers.
"I think this is going to be the project that kicks off the positive nature of what the spirit of downtown is all about," said city manager Marchell David.
Nevertheless, the old downtown spirit won't be the same to Ina Welch if all she sees are freight cars rattling through.
"Maybe we'll get some more passenger trains," Welch said. "I wish we could. I love to ride the train."