Thomas A. Davis, proprietor and innkeeper of The Station Inn Bed & Breakfast in Cresson, Pa., passed away Oct. 5, 2021, at the age of 90. He was best known as the owner of the world-famous Inn, which was located along Norfolk Southern’ s ex-PRR main line, 9 miles west of Horseshoe Curve at the summit of the Allegheny mountains.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Md., Tom caught the railroad bug early: Tom’s father, a B&O dining car steward, enabled frequent train rides to Harpers Ferry, W.Va. Tom worked the Western Maryland brakemen’s list out of Baltimore’s Port Covington while enrolled in Towson State College, and ultimately earned a Harvard PhD in Education in the 1970s while firing diesel passenger jobs on the New Haven, and while braking on the Boston & Maine out of Lawrence, Mass.
Tom and his wife Nancy relocated frequently for a variety of professional education assignments, ultimately moving to Nutley, N.J., where he served as a guidance counselor, teacher, and assistant superintendent of schools. Tom became an active volunteer for the Black River & Western Railroad in Ringoes, N.J., where he ran and fired ex-Great Western Alco 2-8-0 No. 60 and ex-Florida East Coast 4-6-2 #148. Tom became legendary at BR&W for his steam locomotive expertise, his friendly and calm generosity with his vast railroad knowledge, and for his trademark shenanigans, which kept everyone in stitches.
Following Nancy’s passing, Tom spent a summer scouring for the right location, purchasing what would become The Station Inn in 1993. Railfans worldwide came to know the inn thanks to prominent advertising and busy main line traffic. Tom loved to bring people together, doing so for over 25 years around the inn’s breakfast table, out on the front porch, or down at the ornate basement bar, telling railroading tales and sharing his deep knowledge over railroading and beyond.
Tom’s family plans to sell the Inn with the intention that it continue as a premier destination for railfans. Tom’s legacy will live on through the countless guests who will continue to enjoy their front-row seat on Norfolk Southern, through the many other trackside B&Bs inspired by Tom’s visionary idea, and through the huge network of family, friends, and railroaders who all came to know and love Tom’s signature smile, stories, travels, and antics. He will be greatly missed by so many. — J. Alex Lang, Dave Abeles, and Frank Capalbo