Greencastle Train Stations
"A Down Town Train Story"
By W. P. Conrad
As printed in the Echo Pilot 7/10/91
There are still older residents who remember when both passenger and freight trains ran through the center of town on Carlisle Street. The earliest passenger accommodations, such as purchasing tickets or arranging for parcels or trunks or other items to be sent by rail, were in stores on Center Square.
(One reference to this was in an old newspaper that I saw years ago. The store that also served as a passenger station for the railroad company was located in the northwest corner of the Square.)
The first real station was located where the Citizens Bank of Southern Pennsylvania now stands and it served the public until a more complete and attractive station was put in operation in 1903. The lot on which this was placed had been used as a "siding" since the Civil War and was noted on an early map as, the "Lumber Yard."
Carlisle Street train station from 1903 to 1909.
This new station had the shortest business life in the history of the town. By 1909 it was abandoned when the passenger station serving the new 'high line" in the west end of Greencastle, was put into operation. However, the freight station that had always been located along the line near the southern edge of town continued to serve local customers until several years ago. (The building is now being used by the Strite business which sells products needed for local farmers and gardeners.)
In 1933 the Pennsylvania Railroad removed the tracks that ran through the town. However, businesses served by the freight trains continued as coal cars or boxcars were taken in and out of town to accommodate the elevator operations, lumber yards, and industries whose businesses depended on rail service. (The rails for these purposes can still be seen at both the north and south ends of town.)
High Line office
When the station, erected in 1903, was abandoned it was used, for a short time, (perhaps a year) for high school classes while the building that began accommodating both elementary and secondary classes in 1916 was being erected.
Also, for a short time, the Interwoven Knitting Mill company used the abandoned station until its machinery and workers were moved to the livery stable that had served the McLaughlin Hotel. This is the brick structure north of today's Antrim House now serving as an apartment building.
Throughout the years the former Carlisle Street station was abandoned, it also served as an ideal place for playing hide and seek; or as a fort for the Madison Street 'soldiers' to protect against Indian invasions from other parts of town; and as a base of operations during the Halloween season.
During at least two Old Home Week celebrations, the grounds were used for contests. (I remember winning a half-dollar for catching a greased pig which was followed, when I got home, by a spanking from mother for getting my clothes so dirty and greasy.)
Eventually the old station became abandoned, even by youngsters, and then a miracle happened. The following paragraphs tell of this miracle:
Dr. George A. Sowell came to Greencastle in 1916. He and Mrs. Sowell lived in an apartment located in the Ziegler building on Center Square. In the meantime they purchased the abandoned 1903 passenger station and over the next several years the building was reconstructed to provide living quarters for the Sowells, an office for his practice, and a garage large enough to house two vehicles.
In the mid-1920s the Sowells moved into what had become one of the finest homes in Greencastle. The structure had been tastefully rebuilt and the lawn, to the rear, became one of the most attractive settings of town.
It continued to be a thing of beauty as long as Dr. George Sowell and his wife, Ethel, lived in Greencastle. Mrs. Sowell died in 1970 while the doctor continued to make his home here until his death, May 4, 1980. Mrs. Sowell is buried in her hometown of Marlton, N.J. while the doctor's grave is closer home in the Cedar Hill Cemetery. The present owners of this former lumber yard and train station have continued to preserve and improve the attractiveness of the property made possible by Dr. and Mrs. Sowell.
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