Daveler honored; excursion train highlights Founders Day in Lansdale
win brothers Caeden and Caleb Shannon had never seen, or heard, anything quite like the surprise present they got for their second birthday Saturday.
And as the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad’s Founders Day Excursion Train rolled into Lansdale shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday with an earsplitting blast of its train horn, the twins reacted a little differently, according to their mom, Christina.
“Caleb was a little bit scared, but Caeden was waving to the conductor and he waved back,” she said.
The twins both wore matching train conductor hats and overalls and their parents, Christina and Colin of Lansdale, and grandparents, Kathy and Dave Shannon, were just a few of the hundreds of visitors who came to downtown Lansdale for the borough’s second annual Founders Day festivities.
“We come here for the farmers market every week, so we’ve been planning this since the beginning of WKH VuPPHr. 7KLV wDV GHfiNLWHOy D surprise, they had no idea what they were going to see today,” Christina said.
Amateur photographers crowded the sidewalks along the train station’s platforms, while riders on three separate excursions between Lansdale and Souderton stood in line to ride the special train — including Tom Ryales, of Lansdale, with his sons, 6-year-old Peyton and 3-year-old Logan.
“My wife was over at the farmers market and somebody said, ‘Would you like free tickets to ride the train?’ I used to ride to Philly from Ambler all the time, and hopefully these guys love it too,” Ryales said, as his sons waved at the train backing into the platform.
Rail fans from several generations came to town Saturday, not only to ride the trains, but for several other attractions under the day’s theme of “A Town on Track.”
Displays of model trains were shown at several borough facilities, which were open for public tours, and SEPTA displayed a pair of stateof-the-art Silverliner V passenger cars for rail fans young and old to explore throughout the day — a nod to the region’s past and its origins as an important rail juncture, as well as a hint of its future, according to SEPTA Deputy General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel.
“The railroad plays a pivotal part in building a strong foundation for this vital community, dating back more than a century from our rail ancestor the North Pennsylvania Railroad to the new transit services provided today by SEPTA,” Knueppel said.
The town itself drew its name from Philip Lansdale Fox, a rail surveyor for that original line connecting Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley, and Knueppel said the town’s “ideal location” for commerce between the two areas has never been more evident.
“History is just a dusty book on a shelf if you don’t take the lessons that you learn from the past and use them to create a vision for the future. SEPTA sees the same potential that Philip Lansdale Fox recognized in the borough,” he said, and has invested in station improvements and added to its flHHW RI rROOLNJ VWRFN that serve the town.
One area group in particular was glad to see the two working together — members of the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum handed out information on their museum in Hamburg and efforts to preserve the actual equipment that ran on Lansdale’s rails before its bankruptcy in the mid-1970s.
“We were formed in 1976 after the breakup into Conrail, and we still have preserved about 70 pieces of Reading equipment: locomotives, rail cars and a few other things,” said Reading Museum board mem- ber Greg Goodridge.
“We’re trying to raise awareness of who we are and what we do, and since most of our activities are in Berks and Schuylkill counties we’d like to build more of a presence in this area,” he said.
One of those longtime Reading Railroad riders, state Rep. Bob Godshall, R-53, said he was glad to see a rail connection restored, if only for a day, between Lansdale and Souderton because it brought back memories of his earliest rail rides.
“I can’t tell you how many times we took that train from Souderton all the way down to North Broad Street, and then walked over to Shibe Park,” to see Phillies games at the old ballpark, Godshall said.
“I really am glad you’re running that thing back to Souderton, and I’m doing my best, I’d love to get that line going all the way up to
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