Hidden in Heidelberg: The Wernersville Train Station

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Trains have held a certain magic for many people. Train stations, too, for their arrivals and departures to new, exciting places. All of this nostalgia can be seen and savored at the restored historic Wernersville Train station.

Built in 1927, to replace an earlier station, the little used and dilapidated granite and limestone building was rescued and restored by the Heidelberg Heritage Society.  The restoration is authentic; fortunately, the Society was able to secure such items as the original water fountain, Men’s and Ladies’ room signs, and mail wagon.

The first train of the Lebanon Valley Railroad of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad ran from Reading to Lebanon in 1857; the first passenger train from Reading to Harrisburg in 1858. The establishment of this busy railroad ushered in the successful development of Wernersville and the south mountain resorts.  By 1941, passenger trains were making 26 stops a day!

With the ascendency of the automobile, train travel declined and passenger railroad service at the Wernersville Station terminated in June 1963. What we have now is a beautifully restored train station that brings back all the history and memories of railroading days.

The Wernersville Train Station is one of twelve historic sites on the 2018 4 Centuries in Berks Historic Property Tour, which will explore the architectural treasures of Heidelberg Townships including South Mountain Resort area, Robesonia Furnace Historic District, and Charming Forge Mansion, Boarding House & Village.

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Scholla: The Hills of Wernersville

The Hills of Wernersville

The late Heywood Broun, columnist par excellence, devoted a column in October, 1934, to a rhapsody on Wernersville, Berks County, PA. He had sought the lofty elevations that rise above the Lebanon Valley, as an escape from the sordidness of mankind, and there he dwelled in rapture, for a short while, at least. Into his daily column he poured the emotions that overwhelmed him. Let him say it in his own inimitable way.

“What wouldn’t I give right now for a platter of corned beef and cabbage!” Broun was hungry and the kitchen in Wernersville had closed for the night. “I could have done with a chicken sandwhich. The night watchman though he could manage it for me but it turned out that he did not know his Wernersville.”

“Yet whatever misgivings I may have had about primitive life in Pennsylvania were riddled by the morning sun. Home was never like this. In the foothills they wash and launder the air, and the sky is spread before you like pale blue pajamas neatly folded on a bed. October trees make Spanish shawls seem to be repentance raiment. White houses and red roofs stand upon the hills and some sort of purple flower seems to be persisting.”

“Maybe there is something in this nature business after all. I must look into it for there I gawked at meadows and plowed fields more fair than many of the faces which I hold reasonable dear… But I am all for another spree. We can never be young more than once and if I choose to get addled with ozone whose business is it?”

“A morning in the country delivers me over to my chief vice, which is sentimentality. . . But when the hills are green and rolling it is difficult not to fall into the frame of mind of thinking that some of the people you loathe and despise are essentially better than you have been willing to admit. The earth looks so good that you forget errors.”

“You may look to the hills and be half-way persuaded to become a mystic. But across the greenest valley there will rise the turrets of the factory, mill or foundry. You need not to go more than a little distance to see the scars of squalor. It is a swell world on a fine clear morning, but what a mess mankind has made of it.”

View from Penn Werner Hotel Balcony. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Berks County.
View from Penn Werner Hotel Balcony. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Berks County.
Heywood Broun. Journalist.
Heywood Broun. Journalist.