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     RUNNING THE ROAD OF ANTHRACITE small black logo
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN WEST III AND CHRIS POH
Tamaqua Station in Tamaqua, PA as seen in American Public House Review
THE RESTAURANT AT THE STATION IN TAMAQUA, PENNSYLVANIA



On a very hot July morning we rolled into Tamaqua not knowing what to expect of this storied, old railroad town located in the heart of the Eastern Pennsylvania’s Appalachian coal fields.  Tamaqua is as blue collar as any place you will find in America.  There is a certain toughness and hard edge to this community that creates a place of substantial character. The history and lore of the town is literally and figuratively written in stone, from the black anthracite found below ground to the carved piece of granite that marks the grave of John “Black Jack” Kehoe. Although this immigrant coal miner turned tavern owner ultimately became a much respected business leader and political force in Schuylkill County, his American experience came to an abrupt conclusion at the end of a rope.

It seems that the fates of most Irishmen in eastern Pennsylvania during the nineteenth century were determined by activities underground. Though Kehoe had left the bowels of the anthracite veins many years earlier, he was accused of giving aid, comfort and direction to those that waged a violent struggle against the intolerable and inhumane conditions visited upon the miners and their families by Frank Gowen, the President of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company, and his political and judicial cohorts.  On December 18th, 1878 John Kehoe was executed in Pottsville, Pennsylvania for his alleged involvement with the secretive “Molly Maguires,” and the murder of a mine foreman Frank W. S. Langdon.

The grave of Black Jack Kehoe in Tamaqua, PA as seen in American Public House Review



Click here for a bit more  information on John "Black Jack" Kehoe and the Molly Maguires from our
March, 2008 article about Jim Thorpe, PA  entitled THE DEATH OF HONORABLE PUBLICANS.



Black Jack Kehoe sign as seen in American Public House ReviewAfter the hanging, Kehoe’s body was transported by train to the railroad station at Tamaqua. His corpse was stored overnight in the baggage room, awaiting burial at his wife’s family plot at St. Jerome’s Cemetery.  At least five other doomed Mollies made this elegant depot built by the Philadelphia and Reading Line their last stop. This habit of keeping those dispatched for capital crimes on ice overnight has fueled interest and speculation about the frequent reports of paranormal activity at this historic location.

During the twentieth century Tamaqua witnessed the rise and fall of the once mighty Reading Railroad. By the end of the Second World War, the Reading was the largest corporation on earth, but within thirty years it would suffer bankruptcy and become absorbed into the Conrail system as part of a government buyout. Tamaqua would fall on hard times as the riding public chose rubber tires over steel wheels, and oil became the hydrocarbon of choice. By 1961 passenger service was suspended and the station at Tamaqua was closed. The future of this landmark building was in question and in jeopardy.



Painting of Tamaqua Station as seen in American Public House Review
OLD PAINTING OF THE TAMAQUA STATION

 
Today thanks to the Herculean labors of the non-profit group; S.O.S “Save Our Station,” the facility has been restored to its former glory. This massive effort of detailed restoration and reconstruction required 13 years of planning and work, and was reopened in 2004.  At its front doors remains an active rail line, the Reading Blue Mountain and Northern runs primarily coal trains through a couple of times a day.  Undoubtedly, as our country looks to curb our dependence on imported energy coal once again may be king, and visitors to Tamaqua will be able to enjoy a more frequent run of rolling stock.


                Thanks to tamaquastation.com                                                     Thanks to tamaquastation.com
The saving of the Tamaqua Station as seen in American Public House Review
Men's waiting room in the Tamaqua Station as seen in American Puiblic House Review
SAVED!
THE MEN'S WAITING ROOM


The train station is quite clearly the centerpiece and crown jewel of the town.  And at the heart of this Victorian Italianate building is the RESTAURANT AT THE STATION. The service and sustenance harkens back to the days of Fred Harvey, when whistle stop dining was an epicurean experience.   And after a good meal and a couple of libations at the bar, one could spend hours soaking up the history, railroad memorabilia and photography that adorn every wall of this classic structure.


 
The bar at THE RESTAURANT AT THE STATION in Tamaqua, PA as seen in American Public House Review
THE BAR IN RESTAURANT AT THE STATION  .  .  . 


The dining room at THE RESTAURANT AT THE STATION as seen in American Public House Review
AND THE DINING ROOM



Our visit was capped off by sitting trackside drinking a pint of Railbender Ale, talking with the very knowledgeable and pleasant staff, and watching an SD40-2 locomotive of the Reading and Northern come rolling down the tracks pulling a line of fully loaded coal cars. The roar of the engine and the sheer power you feel when you are fortunate enough to be this close to one of these behemoths, gives one a true sense of the vigor, capacity and strength of this nation.


      
SD40-2 locomotive as seen in American Public House Review

Railbender Ale as seen in American Public House Review
AN SD40-2 LOCOMOTIVE RUMBLES BY

RAILBENDER ALE



No matter what difficulties may confront us as a people, one trip to a place like Tamaqua gives one an appreciation of our resilience when faced with challenges, hardships and adversity. A visit to this remarkable community is not only enjoyable, but it is inspirational and a testimonial to the American spirit and soul.



Paiinting inside the Restaurant At The Station inm Tamaqua, Pa as seen in American Public House Review
VINTAGE PAINTING OF THE STATION'S INTERIOR



ROAD OF ANTHRACITE as seen in American Public House Review






RESTAURANT AT THE STATION

18 NORTH RAILROAD STREET
TAMAQUA, PENNSYLVANIA 18252

(570) 668-5020

https://www.facebook.com/tamaquastationrestaurant/



AMERICAN PUBLIC HOUSE REVIEW text, images, and music © 2007-2009. All rights reserved. 
All content is subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. Email: ed.petersen@americanpublichousereview.com for permission before use.


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