Local residents can help Greencastle's High Line Train Station

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot
The Greencastle Area Youth Foundation, the organization that oversees the High Line Train Station on South Jefferson Street, is participating in A Community Thrives, a USA TODAY NETWORK fundraising initiative.

The High Line Train Station will be a "shining light on top of the hill" this holiday season and local residents can help ensure it retains its brilliance in the community for years to come.

The Greencastle Area Youth Foundation, the organization that manages the facility, is among nearly 1,000 nonprofits accepted for consideration for grant funding through A Community Thrives.

A Community Thrives is sponsored by the USA TODAY NETWORK, which in Franklin County includes Greencastle's Echo Pilot, as well as The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg.

To continue to qualify, GAYF must raise matching funds for the High Line Train Station through the crowdfunding website:

Donations will be accepted through Oct. 16.

In addition to new Heritage Christmas community outreach in keeping with COVID-19 safety guidelines, GAYF is seeking the funds to replace sections of the sidewalk, curb and asphalt walkway leading up to the building on Jefferson Street with a focus on making it more accessible to the physically impaired.

The Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library in Waynesboro, the Diaper Depot at Central in Chambersburg and the Franklin County Head Start Program also are participating in A Community Thrives.

"Together, we can create a powerful force for good in central Pennsylvania," said Randy Parker, central Pennsylvania executive editor for the USA Today Network.

About the train station

"The High Line Train Station, named for its elevated rails, was opened in 1909 by the Cumberland Valley Railroad to serve the community as a passenger station and we like to think that more than 111 years later we’re still serving the community," Scott Sutton, president of GAYF, said in an email. "When the railroad halted passenger service at the station in 1962, John Kinney, Dr. Jerry Harness, Dr. Evon Barvinchack and members of the Jerome R. King Playground Association had the foresight to purchase the building, and ultimately the grounds it sits on, in order to preserve the station for use by the community. We’re just trying to be good stewards of their legacy and carry out their vision."

Often referred to as "Scout Headquarters," the station is a meeting place for youth groups, including Scouts and 4-H, a destination for school tours, a site for weddings and other events and a magnet for railfans.

"Since 2016, extensive work has gone into repairing the iconic building and improving the grounds, including replacing rotted gutters and downspouts, repairing the dormers, replacing lights, installing fans, installing a hot water heater, replacing bathroom fixtures and flooring, upgrading electric service and, most recently, repairing the rear canopy and cast iron columns," Sutton said in an email.

"Historical markers and a walkway were installed for visitors to learn about the area’s rich railroad heritage and to watch and photograph the passing trains safely. For those that can’t make it to the station, web cams were installed on the rear canopy for online visitors to watch the local rail traffic from the comfort of their home," he continued.

“We have online visitors from countries around the world and have seen a significant uptick in onsite visitors from surrounding states, which is good for local businesses. We have an outdoor monitor that displays rail traffic in the local area that was first established by one of Troop 99’s Eagle Scouts and improved by local rail enthusiast, Bob Morningstar, that has become a favorite among visitors hoping to get a glance of a passing train. And there are numerous other projects underway including an extension of the walkway on the south side of the station and multiple displays on the front hill."

GAYF is especially proud of the installation of a new furnace and heat pump by local business owner and former Troop 99 Eagle Scout, Tim Stenger, a few years ago.

"Stenger and his company, Premier HVAC Services, donated equipment and labor at a time when we had no heat or air conditioning nor money to pay for it," Sutton said.

Stenger's actions embody not just the ideal of community service engrained in Eagle Scouts, but reflect the spirt of giving that is a big part of the Greencastle-Antrim community.

“It’s why I love this town. People still care about one another and keeping the small town ideals alive for future generations," Sutton said, adding, "You can see this reflected in the brick patio between the station and Baltimore Street. We refer to it as the Court of Honor and it contains bricks engraved with the names of Eagle Scouts from BSA Troop 13 and BSA Troop 99 in the center. They gave back to the community and the community supported them along their path to Eagle."

Sutton and his wife, Tracy, connected with the High Line when their family became involved in scouting.

"It wasn’t until after our kids aged out of Scouting that I realized that if we hadn’t been connected with the Scouting program, we probably wouldn’t have ever been in the station," Sutton said. "It still surprises me today when we’re open how many lifelong residents are first-time visitors."

Grayson Eby took a close look at the model train exhibit at the High Line Train Station last year during Heritage Christmas. In keeping with COVID-19 pandemic safety guidelines, there will be lighted displays outdoors rather than indoor activities.

 A new holiday tradition

Events in conjunction with Greencastle's Heritage Christmas celebration the first two Friday evenings in December are one reason visitors old and new, young and old head to the High Line. Due to COVID-19 limits on gatherings, the traditional model railroad display and readings of the "Polar Express" inside the station will not held.

However, GAYF is planning a new holiday tradition with multiple lighted outdoor displays that people can enjoy from their vehicles, including a a model railroad display dubbed "the garden train."

"Our goal is to become that shining light on the top of the hill, this Christmas, literally," Sutton said. "We would like to establish a series of lighted outdoor displays that can be added to each year, creating a new new tradition for the community to enjoy, even after things return to normal."

A canned food collection for local food banks, random candy and toy giveaways and curbside sales of the High Line's annual Christmas ornament also are planned.

"We have a great board that has diverse interests in railroad heritage, Scouting and local history, but they all have one common interest — which is the well-being of the community," Sutton said, as he encouraged donations to A Community Thrives.