Wanamaker Station

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At the other end of the line from Kempton is the town of Wanamakers and Wanamaker station. Here's where the locomotive is run-around the train for the return trip to Kempton. Like the WK&S stations in Kempton, Wanamaker is an original Reading station. But the Kempton stations were moved in from other locations. Wanamaker is the only WK&S structure in its original location.

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A 2004 southbound Santa train departs Wanamaker station.

Present Operations

Wanamaker station is owned by the WK&S, but generally leased to an outside tenant. Beginning in 2013 Wanamaker station was leased to a new business called Boats, Bikes & Bait (www.leaserlake.com). The shop provides rental equipment and supplies to those headed for Leaser Lake. The train stops at Wanamaker station and you'll have 10 minutes or so to get off and look around. The opening of Boats, Bikes & Bait coincided with the reopening of Leaser Lake following an extensive dam reconstruction project.

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Boats, Bikes & Bait.

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The next picture shows an empty Leaser Lake. I got this shot in 2012 just as dam construction had wrapped up. The lake is now open having reached its normal level later in 2013.

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An empty Leaser Lake in 2012.

There's also an old fashioned general store behind the station called Wanamakers General Store (www.wanamakersgeneralstore.com). Give it a quick look during the layover. If you like what you see in Wanamakers, but have to catch the train back to Kempton, Wanamakers is just a short drive back up Rt. 143. Alternately, you're welcome to stay at Wanamakers for an hour and take the next train back to Kempton.

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The back of Wanamaker station looking from Rt. 143. The Wanamakers General Store is in the foreground. September 2012.

A History of Wanamaker Station & Surrounding Structures

The railroad was built in 1874 before the town of Wanamakers was formally established. The station was not built until 1879. There's some speculation that the station may have originally been called "Steinsville" after the existing nearby, but non-trackside town of the same name. It's also possible that there may have been a separate Steinsville station at the next grade crossing south of Wanamakers. Were there two stations serving this area? Or was there just one station with a name change? The Wanamaker station code is "VI". Wanamaker does not contain those letters, but Steinsville does. I've also read that the Wanamakers Hotel was initially called the Steinsville Hotel. Note that the town name is Wanamakers with an "s", but the railroad designated the station as Wanamaker without the "s".

The picture below was taken soon after the station was built. Note that the building is several feet smaller than it is now. Apparently the freight room was expanded just a few years after the station was built. The sign above the freight room door reads "Wanamaker", not "Steinsville".

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A very early picture of Wanamaker station. Note the smaller freight room on the left side of the building.

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Wanamaker station a few years later. Note the enlarged freight room, the raised wood platform spanning the entire station and the large loading dock in front of the freight room. Post Card image contributed by Joel Salomon.

Below is an old photograph showing some track-side features in Wanamakers. The photo looks south toward Kempton. The home on the left still stands. The freight car is on the passing track. Between the freight car and the man standing on the hill is a switch leading from the passing track to a concrete coal trestle on the other side of the street. Wanamaker station is on the right. The shed (probably an outhouse) next to the station is gone. The man in the foreground is sitting on what was a potato spur. The spur ran in front of a barn where the potatoes would have been loaded. The next photo looks north and shows the "Berksy" passenger train. Note the ads on the station wall. Note the barn behind the train. The potato spur is up on the bank between the barn and the main line. Both the barn and the spur are gone. The photographer is standing on the spur to the coal trestle.

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Looking south through Wanamakers.

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Looking north at Wanamaker station.

Next is modern picture taken north of the station looking south. Here's where the potato spur split from the main line and ran up the slope that is now someone's lawn. The barn was to the right of the slope toward the white house. This is a steep grade. Only one or two cars would have been shoved up at a time.

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Potato spur grade.

Here's another modern overview looking north. The only remaining rail is the main line and the passing track to the right. The shed in the background is an old Reading maintenance building which was moved to Wanamaker by the WK&S in 1963. It's initial use by the WK&S was probably for locomotive maintenance, but now it's used for storage. Rt. 143 and the general store are out of frame to the left. Levans Road is in the foreground.

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Northward looking overview of the Wanamaker station area. Photo by Gary Zweizig.

Moving a little further south, but still looking north, remains of the concrete coal trestle are at lower right. With the addition of some corrugated metal roofing, a portion of the trestle servers as a neighbor's shed.

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Coal trestle.

A few hundred yards north of Wanamaker station along Rt. 143 is the end of the line. This really is the end of the line. Not only are the tracks gone, but the grade has been cut away beyond the bump-post. Normally the locomotive would lead the train to the end of the line and then shove back to Wanamaker. In this case the train has already been arranged to face south and then backed to the end of the line for the pictures below.

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A freight charter along Rt. 143 at the end of the line.

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Both the track and the grade are gone beyond the bump-post.

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Another end of line shot from the cab of #7258.

The picture below appeared in the first WK&S brochure from 1963. Ownership of the station building was first transferred from the Reading Company to the Wanamakers General Store sometime in the 1950s. The new WK&S railroad acquired the building from the General Store around 1963. The station appears dormant in this picture. Note the lack of any steps or decking. And the building appears to be painted solid white. The building was returned to its traditional Reading cream and brown at least by 1964. A WK&S memo from early 1971 indicates that new steps were to be built and the building was to be painted maroon and white. But every color photo I've even seen shows the building painted cream and brown. Also note the remains of the concrete coal trestle on the other side of the street.

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Picture from the 1963 brochure.

Early WK&S brochures noted the existence of Wanamaker station. But there's little information about how the station may have been used through the 1960s and most of the 1970s. A WK&S newsletter from 1971 included a rather cryptic side note; "Here's an invitation for you to take a short walk and have an extra cold snack at the Wanamaker Station... just reopened this year". In 1975 the station may have been rented to a tenant who displayed railroad memorabilia. 1977 was the first brochure to specifically mention that something occupied the station; "Wanamaker Rail Road Depot Antiques". The railroad rented the station to a tenant who operated the antique shop. I believe there were at least two tenants who operated the station in this capacity between 1977 and the late 1990s. Passengers were welcome to tour the station antique shop during the short layover as the locomotive was run-around the train. The antique shop lasted until the late 1990s when the existing tenant passed away. Subsequently the station remained dormant for a few years. I have no interior pictures of the station during its antique shop incarnation.

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This is a Santa train weekend from around 1995 showing the station as an antique shop. Note the sign "Wanamaker RR Depot Antiques".

From about 2003 to 2012 the station was leased to Rick and Cindy Goho. The Gohos transformed the agent's office and waiting room into a mini-museum filled with period railroad items. The freight room was used as a gift and novelty shop featuring a lot of neat old toys. The station was usually open when the trains ran and there was plenty of time to tour the station before the train departed for Kempton. In 2010 the Gohos sponsored a Wanamaker Equipment Show which was set up on the lawn across the tracks from the station. They also sponsored some Raggedy Ann events at the railroad in 2005 & 2010. Cindy Goho is the grandniece of Raggedy Ann creator Johnny Gruelle.

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Waiting room from around 2010.

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Agent's office from around 2010.

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Freight room from around 2010.

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Wanamakers equipment show from 2010.

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Wanamakers equipment show from 2010.

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Wanamakers equipment show from 2010.

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Wanamakers equipment show from 2010.

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