I happen to love trains, especially antique ones. Right here in Wantagh you can visit a historic place where you can step back in time and envision history as it once was.
The Wantagh Railroad Station on Wantagh Avenue was made into a museum in 1982 and opened to the public. The year after, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and remains an important historic element of the area.
It was built in 1885 and was later moved in 1966 when the stations for the Atlantic and Babylon Branches were getting reconstructed. Most of the stations at that time were required to get rebuilt and replaced as well as elevated. The original station, on Railroad Avenue, was moved in 1966 to its current location and restored in 1969.
The 1912 parlor car, Jaimaca, was donated in 1972 by the LIRR which was a high end train car at the time. It included air conditioning, a kitchen and a solarium which is similar to a sunroom. How cool is that! The early 1907 post office served Wantagh until the mid 1920s and the ticket booth at the entrance was also restored in honor of Emma Whitmore, the first ticket agent at the Wantagh Station.
Trains have come a long way since the early days. Most passenger train cars were made of wood up until the 19th century. England was the forefront of early rail construction and the first train car designs. The British came up with the first sleeping car in 1838 and the first mail car in the 1840s.
America seemed to follow along and during the mid 19th century the train cars got bigger as well as longer with the additions of cars as the suspensions improved. Not until the beginning of the 20th century were the end platforms updated with enclosed vestibules so people could pass through each car safer and faster.
By the end of the 1930s, the body of the trains were super enhanced with stainless steel, aluminum and Cor-Ten steel. Today, the modern train car is expertly designed and have many more functions but knowing how it all started helps to understand its history in the making.
The Wantagh Museum is open on Sunday from 2-4 pm from April - December. Even if you just want to go and check out the train car and exterior of the buildings I recommend you do. Its a great place to take photos or just walk around. Being around history really puts things into perspective sometimes. You realize how fast time passes by and then learn to appreciate life a little bit more.