A Pleasant Surprise: a Railyard Transformed


by Jane Stahl

Early morning clouds and rain threatened to shut down or compromise the events planned for Pickfest 2023 in Boyertown on Saturday, October 7, 2023. Yet, happily, not all was a "wash." The Colebrookdale Railroad sold out its first two rides of the day (perhaps later rides, too); and while the musicians had found inside space in case the rain began again, those waiting to board the train enjoyed a beautiful and festive railyard.

If your only experience of the Colebrookdale Railyard is what you see driving across the tracks on Philadelphia Avenue, you’ll be as surprised and impressed as I was on Saturday when I walked through the yard past the ticket booth into what is known as the “beer garden.”

I remember the railyard when it was just an expanse of blue stone. Today, the hardscape and landscape include varieties of trees and shrubs. Weeping willows, rows and rows of shrubbery, climbing morning glory vines, brick walkways, tasteful iron fencing, and an active fountain create a peaceful entry.

Inside the cheerfully painted ticket booth decorated by seasonal planters, I found shelves filled with souvenir merchandise—sweatshirts, books, toys and games for children, and a few stuffed bears dressed as railroad conductors.

Beyond the ticket booth was the "beer garden." Blue stones were replaced by softer mulch-like material. Framing the garden and—creating a cozy, cocoon-like feeling—were train cars. One car, the “bar car,” was originally a baggage car. On the other side was the boarding platform and the ride-of-the-day, waiting to be boarded.

The "garden" included an assortment of tables and chairs under umbrellas or pergolas that invited tourists to a relaxing wait, time to enjoy the lush surroundings and perhaps a beverage from the bar car before boarding.

While the musicians had to move inside to escape impending rain,  the visitors who arrived at the start of the day’s events were entertained in a sensory way by the sights and sounds of the environment created for their pleasure.

In addition, the aroma of charcoaled burgers wafted from the kitchen of the Other Farm; the covered outdoor seating space was inviting. Indoors, diners watched as the stage was being set up for performances throughout the day.

Across Washington Street, Brakeman’s Café was packed inside; the outside patio—popular with diners and well-behaved pups--waited for the afternoon sun with gnomes, pumpkins, and greenery underneath the venue’s mammoth magnolia.

Boyertown is my hometown; I walk the streets often. But I rarely get into the “heart” of the railyard. What a delightful surprise I experienced--even before the Pickfest 2023 fun officially began.

"Coming soon”to the yard, I understand, are a performance stage and a dining venue sure to draw us into this beautiful space. More delightful surprises await.  Stay tuned.

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