Montgomery County awarded a $200,000 grant to Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust to provide walking paths to the new Colebrookdale Steel River Station under construction in Pottstown's Memorial Park.
The grant through the Planning Commission's Montco2040 program will connect the park and Pottsgrove Manor to the station. Restrooms will be provided at the Pottstown station.
Colebrookdale Railroad is a tourist attraction providing a 9-mile ride from Boyertown to Pottstown. The tracks are owned by Berks and Montgomery counties.
The trail is not yet open due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"The past few months have really underscored the value of our recreational resources here in the borough, especially Memorial Park," said Justin Keller, Pottstown borough manager. "This grant will continue the work to improve those resources.
The grant represents a continuing partnership between the borough and the Colebrookdale Railroad, focused especially on the Steel River Station.
"Pottstown's parks and trails and historic infrastructure make it a very attractive place to live and visit,” said Nathaniel Guest, executive director of Colebrookdale Railroad. “We are grateful to Montgomery County for helping us connect them.”
Also, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded a $176,470 grant to the Colebrookdale Railroad tourist attraction to create a multimedia educational program on the history of the railroad. The grants were available to help educational and cultural programs recover during the pandemic.
The tourist attraction closed in March following the outbreak of the coronavirus. A reopening date has not yet been determined.
Nathaniel Guest, executive director of the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust, said the train will reopen but not immediately when Berks and Montgomery counties move to the green phase.
“We are being cautious,” Guest said. “We will not only survive, we will thrive.”
The grant will fund salaries and supplies to create a virtual and onsite Rails of Revolution program to educate children in grades three to eight.
“We are humbled and honored to receive NEH funding to support our humanities work and keep our education and humanities staff employed during this difficult time,” Guest said.
Guest said the railroad is partnering with Cornell University to translate the project into multiple languages.
He said the grant also will support the expansion of summer restoration internship positions.
The grant was one of 317 awarded amounting to $40 million.
The National Endowment for the Humanities received 2,300 applications for grants amounting to $370 million.
“Over the past few months, we have witnessed tremendous financial distress at cultural organizations across the country, which have been compelled to furlough staff, cancel programs and reduce operations to make up for revenue shortfalls caused by the pandemic,” said Jon Parrish Peede, NEH chairman.