FRANKLIN TWP. (HUNTERDON COUNTY), N.J. – Progress has been made towards the long-time goal to preserve an old historic railroad passenger terminal here.

The Lehigh Valley Railroad passenger terminal in Pittstown opened in 1891.

Eventually, township officials hope to restore the passenger station and the freight depot and surrounding buildings just off Quakertown Road. They’d like to see it become a nature, history, art and commerce center called The Peach Exchange.

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In the interim, the terminal has been covered with tarpaulins to help protect it from the weather. Rural Awareness, a non-profit organization in the township, coordinated the project.

Work was completed by Spanner Tree & Shrub Care and Merco, Inc., a heavy civil specialty engineering contractor.

Both firms are owned by Franklin residents. Louis Spanner owns the tree care company and Michael and Stephen Mergentime own Merco. Both companies donated their services.

The two, 40-by-60-foot tarps were provided by the state Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Spanner provided professional arborist Bill Runge and his bucket truck with a 65-foot boom to get the tarp on the roof. Chad Miller and three other men from Merco came with tall ladders and helped pull the heavy tarp in place.

The grand opening of the Pittstown Branch Line and the passenger station was held on Independence Day, 1891. The line connected to the Lehigh Valley main line in Landsdown and from there to New York City and Easton, Pa.

Between the 1890s and 1920s, Pittstown was an important shipping point for farmers to get their peaches and milk to market. Trucking overtook the trains and the line was closed in 1969.

In 1970, the Lehigh Valley Railroad went bankrupt.