Train station, museum combine to showcase history

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The Sparta Train Station and the Sparta Historical Society are combining efforts to showcase some of Sparta’s rich history on Sunday, Oct. 7 as both organizations open their doors to the public to participate in the 8th annual Sussex County Heritage Weekend.

The Van Kirk Homestead Museum and the Sparta Train Station will be open from 1-4pm allowing visitors to learn more about both organizations. Sponsored by the Sussex County Arts and Heritage Council, the annual weekend provides an opportunity to explore many of Sussex County’s historical sites and museums. Learn more about the sites open:

The Sparta Historical Society and the Sparta Train Station are working together to encourage the local community to come out and learn about the storied history of the area by visiting both sites. The Sparta Train Station will display railroad artifacts, as well as a series of postcard images on loan from the Sparta Historical Society detailing the great train accident of 1907 that occurred near the Sparta Train Station. The Van Kirk Homestead offers a view of day-to-day life through Period Rooms, farming, industry, and recreation in the Sparta Gallery, the Farm Model Gallery; and, finally, a wider view of events, trends, and interests that have created a collective American Experience in a seasonally Changing Exhibition Gallery which is now featuring the “Traditions from Black Forest exhibit.”

“Traditions from the Black Forest” pays homage to the cultural influences from the Black Forest of Germany and Austria and explores architecture, cuckoo clocks, meerschaum pipes, magnificent carved plaques and other traditional artistry seen in the early days of Lake Mohawk and other local German communities throughout the Sussex County area. This exhibit includes artifacts from our own collection as well as local collectors. The Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT also contributed their intricately carved meerschaum pipes for display.

The Sparta Train Station was a witness to arrivals and departures of people, products and activities through the years. Built in 1881, the original structure survived more than 130 years and actively participated in the growth of the area. Aside from minor incidents on the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railroad, the Train Station never encountered any major problems in until Thursday, July 11, 1907.

According to the Sussex Register, as the train came down the heavy grade, the engine jumped the track at the switch near the water tank, and plowed its way over the ties for about three hundred feet. The engine broke in two at the tender, and the left side of the cab was torn away by striking against the train standing in the switch. The cars in the rear piled themselves up by their own force until eight freight cars were strewn over the tracks and alongside of them.

Learn more about these exhibits and more by visiting the Sparta Train Station at 30 Station Road and the Van Kirk Homestead at 336 Main Street on Sunday, Oct. 7 from 1-4 p.m.

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