04/02/09 — Union Station celebrates 100

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Union Station celebrates 100

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on April 2, 2009 1:46 PM

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Ed Shumate looks at old photographs of Union Station at the station's 100-year anniversary Wednesday in Goldsboro. Shumate says he played on the Pullman cars as a boy of about 9 years old.

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Mayor Al King, left, Skyler Landers, right, and Martha Bryan, far right, blow out the 100 candles on Union Station's anniversary cake.

World War II veteran Ed Shumate grew up across the street from Union Station and remembers its heyday, even though as a child, he was more interested in climbing on the architecture than admiring it.

"I used to climb on those frontispieces, and we would play on those wagons on Sunday until the manager would chase us away," Shumate said. "I'd get up there just for something to do."

He remembers details lost to time, but not to memory -- a newspaper stand was there, a demolished wall used to divide the middle of the large room.

Shumate was there when Eleanor Roosevelt's train came through, and recalled one special trip he made on the passenger rail line. He had never seen the ocean, so he worked for six months to save up his money to buy a ticket to Morehead City.

"I bought a ticket for $1.50, and I went to Morehead and I saw the ocean," Shumate said.

"There were no trucks," he added. "So anything, if it was oranges from Florida, it came from the train."

Shumate was one of a crowd of more than 100 citizens and city officials who gathered Wednesday evening at Union Station to celebrate the Goldsboro landmark's centennial, and his story is one of many gathered from locals, their memories captured on a video diary shown at the celebration.

To mark the station's birthday, Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan read excerpts from newspaper articles about its grand opening on April 1, 1909, when businesses and schools in Goldsboro closed for a brief time to allow people to attend the event.

The city hopes to rebuild that same spirit of optimism and community, Ms. Logan said.

"You all are the new station owners, and we're going to build on that spirit in 2009," she said.

The station was integral to the city's early development, said Mike Kozak, long-time Department of Transportation employee.

"The city of Goldsboro is here because of the railroad," Kozak said. "Our railroad and its history is very deep, strong, and probably one of the most significant in this country."

City officials also took the opportunity to recognize Kozak, who is retiring after 17 years of service with the DOT.

But even though he is retiring, he will be back to see the station, Kozak said.

"This rail station is going to be a jewel of this city," he said. "When it's fixed up, it will be a community showplace. I look forward to coming back for the ribbon-cutting and seeing all the smiling faces and say yes, what a beautiful place."

Mayor Al King, who grew up in Mount Olive, has his own memories of Union Station. He and his family would travel to Goldsboro and back on the passenger train.

"In those days, it was like coming to Grand Central Station in New York City. It was a huge event. I couldn't wait to get on that train," he said.

King addressed the crowd just before he helped to blow out the 100 candles on the station's birthday cake.

"This station is moving," he said. "To the DOT, I will be eternally grateful for this effort."