Former railroad workshop set for demolition

KINGWOOD — The last large structure in the former railroad yard of the Northern Railroad will begin coming down this month.

For years, the locally owned Northern Railroad hauled coal, people and goods between Kingwood and Tunnelton. For a brief time in the 1990s, it was a tourist railroad.

Now the rails are gone, converted to a rail-trail in the making. The depot on Tunnelton Street, across from the Craig Civic Center, was demolished in 2015. In 2017 four buildings and the historic water tower were taken down at the shops.

The wooden, circa 1900s water tower now lies disassembled inside and out of one of the two last remaining buildings on Sisler Street, the large concrete and block shop where trains were serviced.

Preston County Parks and Recreation Commission (PCPaRC), which owns about 5 acres at the Sisler Street site, hopes to put the tower back up someday. But for now the group needs a place to store the pieces.

Brown’s Mill Excavating will start work this month on taking down the workshop and two storage tanks at the Sisler Street site.

The company had the winning bid of $36,766 to do the demolition and put a 2-foot cap over where the building and tanks sat. They are not considered a brownfield, site but there was some diesel fuel contamination.

The maintenance building has concrete pits where mechanics could stand under the trains, which entered through large doors on the ends. The building was heated by a hot water boiler and contained offices as well. At one time, someone lived there, said PCPaRC President Dale McVicker.

“It’s a unique place, but we had no choice,” other than to demolish the building, he said, because of the deterioration and the cost of restoration.

PCPaRC also owns a rail spur between the shops and the former depot site, and 10 miles of trail between Kingwood and Tunnelton. About a mile of the trail on the Tunnelton end is mowed.

The plan is for the trail to come from the Craig Civic Center to the trailhead at the shops, then the trail turns toward Tunnelton.

The pump house, where spring water still bubbles up, is still standing at Sisler Street. The group doesn’t know whether it will be maintained or the blocks given to the Tunnelton Historical Society, which expressed interest in using them to restore a pump house at that end of the line.

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