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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Old Foster Station, Hop Bottom
Old Foster Station, Hop Bottom, PA Photo: Jeff Herbert

The Foster Station, Railroad Commemorative Event (Hop Bottom, Pennsylvania)

In its heyday, the small town of Hop Bottom, in northeastern Pennsylvania, had seen eight passenger trains travel the tracks on the hill overlooking the town. The area was once inhabited by Indians who lived in the white pine forests that were so dense that the only meadows found were near the creek bottoms. Some of these meadows were covered with hop vines, thus prompting early settlers to describe the area as "Hop Bottom." Early settlers in the areas surrounding Hop Bottom farmed their land, and the displaced Indians left to go further west. Some of the settlers were gentry who had emigrated from other places on the East Coast. Among them were businessmen, doctors, lawyers, parsons and blacksmiths. In 1832, the first negotiations for a railroad to come through the area were started, but regular passenger service didn't begin until 1851, and lasted until 1966. Freight service continues until this day.

Moved by the end of passenger service through Foster Station, Sherry McDonough, the Hop Bottom Postmaster, had already been looking into the possibility of having a special commemorative stamp cancellation for the "All Aboard" collection of stamps that celebrated the trains that had crossed America in the 19th and 20th centuries. She hoped to see a local event that might tie into this once busy railroad town and its Foster Station. McDonough became a member of the committee formed to accomplish this goal. Within a remarkable 24 days, culminating on August 27-29, 1999, local townspeople donated their time and effort to organize the two-day celebration for the Hop Bottom Railroad Commemorative Event. The committee was chaired by Marti Theobold, appointed by the Hop Bottom Borough Council. Attractions included a temporary museum of railroad memorabilia and artifacts with a memory book signed by its visitors, the performance of Cinderella by Shore Forest's young theatre group, and a Hop Bottom/Shore Forest Bunny who greeted small visitors. Central to the celebration were the issuance of a commemorative post card and stamp picturing Foster Station in its heyday; 1200 postcards and 4106 stamps were sold at the local post office. The National Guard gave a 21-gun salute in honor of all the former employees of the railroad who had served in the armed services.

To satisfy visitors' palates, VFW sold hot sandwiches, Mt. View High School parents held a bake sale for their children's drama club, Methodist Church members made hoagies, the Lutheran Church's Youth Group sold refreshments and brownies, and a local World Champion Little League team sold hot dogs to the hungry crowds. Organizations participating in the two-day event included Personal Ponies, an organization that gives small ponies to critically ill or disabled children; Christians for AIDS Awareness, who help people living with this disease; the Ugly Quilt Project, that sends quilts to the homeless; and a local Air Force recruiter.

The project is documented with 11 pages of text detailing how the event was organized, and a list of its contributors; the "Memory Book" from the railroad exhibit, a "Guest Book" signed by visitors, a videotape entitled: "Remembering Foster Station," 27 8 x 10 color photographs with descriptions, a flyer, schedule of events, news clippings, and a "golden spike" and commemorative postcard from the event.

Originally submitted by: Donald Sherwood, Representative (10th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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