Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

Celebrating the Nicholson Train Station

Each week in May, to celebrate National Historic Preservation Month, we will highlight one of the 2023 Community Initiative Award winners. In this week’s post, I asked Josh Stull with the Nicholson Heritage Association about their work preserving the Nicholson Train Station.

Can you tell me a little bit about your organization and the Nicholson community it serves?

Established in 1989, the Nicholson Heritage Association (NHA) is dedicated to the historic preservation of Nicholson, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding region. With a population of about 700 residents, Nicholson, chartered in 1875, is a small rural town nestled in Wyoming County and northeastern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains.

From the research I was able to do about the train station, it’s clear that it was a big part of life in Nicholson for almost a century. How did NHA come to own the property and why did the group decide to become its stewards?

The station was THE center of the community: it was Nicholson’s gateway to the outside world and the outside world’s gateway to Nicholson. It was the first station on the original rail line, and even though passenger service was provided from the new concrete station next to the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct, or Nicholson Bridge to us locals, after 1915 when the Clarks Summit-Hallstead Cutoff was completed, the station continued to provide freight service up until the 1970’s.

Long wood building next to railroad tracks with people walking around.

The Nicholson Train Station in the early 20th century. Image from the Nicholson Heritage Association.

With the station being an integral part and contribution to our thriving community, we decided to approach the previous owner in 2010 to determine what the local business’ long-term intentions were for the building. Following that initial outreach and discussion, we purchased the station in 2012 from the local business with a Pepsi Refresh Project grant and donations from businesses and individuals.

In the materials I read, I noted that a feasibility study and public input were part of the strategy to determine what to do with the station. How did you involve the public? What other ideas were considered and why was a local tourism center selected?

Through an Endless Mountains Heritage Region grant with PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources funds, we were able to undertake a feasibility study, in order to get public feedback. The feasibility study included a market study that was undertaken by the Institute that included a demographic and economic profile of the Nicholson area, case studies of similar projects, analysis of interviews and focus groups with community stakeholders, and recommendations based on those findings to promote the success of the station both economically and as an asset to the Nicholson community.

The major source of funding for the renovations determined that it would be a tourism center and museum. We applied for and received a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) grant through the PennDOT Transportation Alternatives Program, under the Historic Preservation and Rehab of Historic Transportation Facilities category.

We know there are dozens and dozens of groups like NHA across the commonwealth that are struggling to preserve an important local place. What advice can you give to others in a similar situation?

We know there are organizations out there like us, small volunteer based historic preservation groups working hard every day celebrating our past to preserve our future. This project has taught us many things, and several words come to mind that we share as advice to others: collaboration, open dialogue, and, most of all, perseverance.

It took about 11 years from the time we purchased the station to our grand opening event. Many said it could not be done, but as Jean Ruhf, Executive Director of the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau, declared at our grand opening celebration in July 2023 of the Nicholson Heritage Association: “The Little Association That Could.”

Are there other organizations, people, or companies you’d like to acknowledge for their contributions to this project and its success?

Yes, this historic preservation and economic development project would not have been possible without the significant financial support from PennDOT through their Transportation Alternatives Program, as well as the financial support from the Endless Mountains Heritage Region with funding from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau and the Wyoming County Room Tax Grant Program, the Tom E. Dailey Foundation, and the Wyoming County Commissioners and the History Alive program.

People standing on deck of long wood building and in adjacent parking lot.

2023 ribbon cutting as part of the grant opening of the preserved station. Photo courtesy of Nicholson Heritage Association.

Additionally, a multitude of businesses and individuals have provided donations to meet the match requirements for the grants to make this project successful. More details on all donations received can be viewed on our website.

Editor’s note: We don’t get into the details of the station’s transformation in this post so I recommend taking a few minutes to watch the short video NHA has put together and viewable on their YouTube page.


  1. Josh Stull

    Thank you, PA SHO!

  2. Rich Grubb

    Wonderful job!

    Rich Grubb

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