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Residents learn the history of the rails to Essex



by Garrett Fodor 

On Saturday, visitor were able to beat the heat while learning about the historical impact of the railways in Essex, along with Windsor, at the Historic Essex Railway Station.

Heritage Essex Inc., which maintains the station, hosted the event for residents and history enthusiasts to enjoy seeing the new, donated pieces, which explained and documented the impact and history of the rails in town. Those in attendance were able to ask questions, watch videos, flip through the books onsite, and travel through time, looking at the unique photos from different generations.

Marnie Aldridge, of Heritage Essex Inc., believes educating everyone on that impact is important.

“What I really wanted to do was showcase the line we had here and where it went,” Aldridge said. “The music in the [Heritage Gardens Park on Wednesday evenings] has definitely helped, we still get people coming up and saying they ‘didn’t know you had this here.’”

Aldridge said the station is getting more foot traffic with the addition of those concerts in town. A market is also setup at the historic train station between 6 and 9 p.m., during the Tune Up the Parks concert series. 

Recently, some of the pieces were expanded with donations from Tony Malkowski, Heritage Essex’s President, which includes photos of train stations around Essex County, but also similar period ones across Ontario and into the rest of Canada. 

Aldridge said originally the line was used for freight, with this area being heavily into manufacturing. She added this area helped cut off over eight hours in travel time between Detroit and New York.

The station was built in 1887, with the last freight train on the Essex rails coming through in 2011. The last passenger train came through in 1979. 

The Historic Essex Railway Station will host a family train day on the grounds on Saturday, August 11.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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