For those of you who visit the wonderful Dutchess Rail Trail, you may notice the Hopewell Depot museum at the Southern trailhead in Hopewell Junction.
The Hopewell Depot is a building from the original railroad, which was a major railroad hub of Dutchess County, and connected the town to Connecticut, Boston, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania. The Hopewell Depot train station was built in 1873, but was unfortunately badly destroyed in a fire in 1986.
The Hopewell Depot museum you see nowadays was lovingly restored by the non-profit organization Hopewell Depot Restoration Corp, a group of passionate volunteers, over several years. The museum is open from spring to fall on Saturdays and Sundays 11am-4pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays 11am-3pm in the winter.
I visited the museum several weeks ago. When I entered the building, I was greeted by several friendly volunteers, who gave me a wonderful tour. Inside the museum, you will find great display and artifacts demonstrating the history and importance of the train station back then. You will also see a model showing the routes the trains used to service.
exhibits inside the museum
Crafts fair outside of the Hopewell Depot the day I visited. The next crafts fair is this Saturday, September 5, 2015 from 10am-3pm.
The Dutchess Rail Trail
The next project for the Hopewell Depot Restoration Corp is to recreate a switching tower with two permanent bathrooms, one for men and one for the ladies, and to expand its educational offerings. If you have walked the entire Dutchess Rail Trail, which is 13 miles long and will lead to to Ulster County via the Walkway over the Hudson, you will notice there are only porta potties!
The Hopewell Depot Restoration Corp. wants to recreate a switching tower that once stood across from the 1873 depot. Runners, walkers and cyclists will be able to find a bit of relief on the first floor and learn more about the region’s railroads on the second floor.
“The tower will have the first real restrooms on the rail trail for both trail users and visitors to the depot. It will also showcase the historical switch gear railroads used to manage their yards,” said Joe Sullivan, depot president.
The depot entertains about 1,000 visitors a year and many more pass by on the rail trail. Sullivan said its mission is to preserve and teach the area’s railroad history. “As part of our long term plan for the site, the tower will allow us to entertain field trips for students and interested groups which we cannot now do without restroom facilities,” he said. “Please join our campaign and help us achieve this next step for the Hopewell Depot.”
Below is a photo rendering showing the location of the planned tower. If you are interested in visiting the museum, please visit http://hopewelldepot.org/ for more information.