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STAFF PHOTO/ROBERT BAKER A contract has been awarded to transform the 169-year-old Nicholson train station that sits just off Rt. 11 within view of the mammoth Nicholson Bridge into a tourism center.

It looks like efforts to get a visitors center at Nicholson to tout its rich railroad heritage are finally a go.

“This wasn’t an easy process, but we’re truly excited,” Nicholson Heritage Association grant manager Josh Stull said Friday.

In 2014, the group received a PennDOT Transportation Alternatives Program grant for the preservation and rehabilitation of a train station built in 1849 when railroading was coming into its own.

Bids were sought earlier this summer and PennDOT this week awarded a $1,154,000 contract to Perry’s General Contracting of Dunmore.

The project includes site improvements for vehicle parking, pedestrian ramps and walks, reconfigured site utilities, and building interior and exterior renovations and improvements.

Although the amount was over the original TAP grant, Wyoming County Commissioner Tom Henry said PennDOT is indeed funding the full cost, with the NHA having to raise an additional $100,000 to handle inspections.

Stull said grant work was proceeding to that end and he felt it should be much easier once people see construction underway.

Stull, who presently works in Washington, D.C., but plans on retiring one day to Nicholson said it is NHA’s dream to see all of the region’s rich railroad history preserved for the future through heritage tourism which is so much more than just one big bridge.

NHA Chair Marion Sweet said, “We couldn’t be more pleased to see the work finally being done on the historic DL&W Railroad Station.”

Henry said it was the county’s hope that the Nicholson Tourism Center would revitalize the region by attracting tourists to the station within view of the mammoth Nicholson Bridge (also known as the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct).

From 1851 until 1915, the structure served as both a passenger and freight station.

With the completion of the largest reinforced concrete bridge in the world, however, a passenger station was created at the north end of the bridge, and the DL&W station became exclusively a freight station until 1971.

The building was sold in 1983, and acquired by the NHA in 2012.

At the August NHA meeting, Sweet told members that a daughter of Don Clark, who once had a huge model train layout at Steamtown Mall which included a scale replica of the big bridge- that she was interested in possibly donating the bridge portion to Nicholson.

“That would be a truly exciting centerpiece,” Stull said. “We’re all looking for a bright future to share our past.”

He said there would be a pre-construction meeting in a couple of weeks and people would soon see activity buzzing around the old station once again.

The Nicholson Heritage Association next meets Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, Nicholson.