HOPEWELL JUNCTION -- Community members, volunteers and local officials celebrated the opening of a new switching tower at Hopewell Depot Park in Hopewell Junction on May 20.
The building houses the only real restrooms on the adjacent William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail. A second floor will ultimately have exhibit about how the tower controlled traffic on train lines in the area.
The switching tower has been made possible by volunteer through the non-profit Hopewll Depot Restoration Corp. The group is responsible for restoring and reopening the Hopewell depot across the trail from the tower.
The replica 25-foot-tall tower sits almost exactly where the original structure stood from 1892 until 1938.
The original building contained control signals and switches to direct train traffic in the nearby rail yard and on the intersecting tracks passing by the tower.
The restrooms will be open during normal rail trail hours. When the new tower's second floor is completed, visitors will find displays and information about the switching gear.
The Depot is open for tours on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Hopewell Depot train station was built in 1873 and served witness to the rise and fall of Hopewell Junction as a major railroad hub of Dutchess County.
Three distinct railroads originally served Hopewell with extensive facilities such as freight yards, an engine house and signal tower.
After a fire nearly destroyed the building in 1986, local residents formed the Hopewell Depot Restoration Corp. to preserve and restore the station and its surroundings to its original form.
The depot building looks as it once did and we have nearly finished the nearby switching tower.
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