NEWTON (Dec. 17, 2012) – Construction of the pavilion at the Newton Depot is on schedule, and the basic structure of phase 2 should be completed soon. Currently, passers-by can catch a glimpse of the steel skeleton of the pavilion that will house the Southeastern Narrow Gauge and Shortline Museum.
Newton Depot Authority Vice Chairman Thomas Warlick said, “It’s very much on track and coming along nicely. It should be completed perhaps in the next two weeks and certainly by the end of January.”
The pavilion, located behind the depot off North College Avenue, will be an L-shaped structure covering approximately 300 feet of dual-gauge railroad track. It will house the museum’s rolling stock including restored narrow-gauge railroad cars used locally by the Chester & Lenoir Railroad, a boxcar from Tweetsie Railroad and a Southern Railway caboose.
Further work includes the installation of concrete sidewalks, security fencing, lighting and various landscaping enhancements, Warlick said. The project is slated to be completed by the end of June.
About the Newton Depot
Rails of the Western North Carolina Railroad (WNCRR) first reached Catawba County in 1860. In 1881, tracks of the Chester & Lenoir narrow-gauge railroad reached Newton and joined the rails of the WNCRR. Several small wooden depots served Newton in the 19th Century, and as economic growth continued for the next two decades, the existing depot was built as an all-brick structure by the Elliott Building Company in 1924. For the next fifty years, the depot handled freight, as well as some of the most famous passenger trains run by the Southern Railway, including the Carolina Special and the Asheville Special. In June 1975, passenger service finally ceased, and ten years later, the station was discontinued as a freight agency. The depot languished as an abandoned building until 1995, when a group of concerned citizens founded the Newton Depot Authority. With immense local support and volunteer labor, the depot was purchased, moved, and refurbished ten years later at its current location of 1123 North Main Avenue. The renovated depot opened to the public in September 2006 and houses a railroad museum and model railroad club, as well as a banquet room available for public and civic rentals.