ROXBURY, NJ - A few dozen people gathered at the site of the Lake Hopatcong Train Station in Landing on Monday to dedicate a sign that recognizes the restored building's historical significance.
The official Morris County historic site marker is just off the roadside at 125 Landing Road near the stone train station that first opened in 1911 as a showcase for the Lackawanna Railroad.
The Morris Canal, two steamboat lines and the Morris County Traction Company trolley also converged at the heavily visited site, according to Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum President Marty Kane.
After the train station was sold by Conrail in the 1970s, the building was used by several businesses before being purchased by the non-profit Lake Hopatcong Foundation in 2014.
Extensive renovations were funded by the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust Fund and the Preserve New Jersey Historic Preservation Fund, as well as through other grants and private donations.
The Lake Hopatcong Foundation now uses the building for its offices, as well as for its Educational and Cultural Center which is being used to accommodate community meetings, activities and programs, according to Kane, who serves the organization as its Board of Trustees Chairman.
“This project has always had unanimous support,” said Roxbury Township Mayor Bob DeFillippo at the dedication ceremony, raising his voice over the roar of passing automobiles, a problem that wouldn’t have been encountered when the station was first built.
“You look at this building and you can almost hear the sound of steam engines and, maybe, the whistle of a train going by, as people made their way to resorts around the lake.”
The Morris County Heritage Commission has overseen a historic site marker program since 1975. More than 150 sites have been marked by distinctive burgundy signs with grey lettering.
“We’re pleased to add the Lake Hopatcong Station to the list of historic sites with markers,” said Morris County Heritage Commission Director Peg Shultz. “The markers serve to remind us of the colorful thread woven throughout our remarkable history.”
The Lake Hopatcong Station joins four other sites in Roxbury Township that have earned the honor: The First Presbyterian Church at Suckasunny Plains, the Silas Riggs House, the Lewis Cary House and Cary Station in Ledgewood.
“Work like this only gets done with the efforts of a lot of volunteers,” added Morris County Freeholder Cathy DeFillippo. “There’s amazing history throughout Morris County, and we want to remind people what this property meant for so many people.”
The mayor noted that the marker dedication ceremony was being held on a spot targeted for sweeping redevelopment, anticipated to begin in 2021.
“We honor the past with this marker and look ahead to see what more significant things we can do,” said Lake Hopatcong Foundation President Jessica Murphy. “We’re so thankful to have this space and maybe someday there will be another sign placed here to mark our future accomplishments.”