Mettupalayam was a tiny village surrounded by lush green farms in the 1850s, until the place at the foothills of Western Ghats got its railway station in 1863, the very same year Coimbatore railway junction was established.
Though the idea behind setting up the railway station at Mettupalayam was for the British to scale up to the Nilgiris and enjoy the summer, the station helped the small village to transform into a bustling town over the years. On Wednesday, Mettupalayam railway station turned 150 years, the third station to touch the milestone after Podanur and Coimbatore stations. The station was decked up with bright lights by the Salem division of the southern railway officials to mark the occasion.
The railway museum at the station was also illuminated. An eight-kilometre marathon was conducted at Mettupalayam as part of the two-day celebrations. Railway staff, social activists and the public took part in the marathon. The officials said the Podanur railway station was the first to be established in Coimbatore in 1862. According to historian C R Elangovan, Podanur linked the ports in Malabar coast to Tamil Nadu and further north through Palakkad pass for the transportation of goods.
However, since Podanur was a little away from Coimbatore town, a railway station was established here in 1873. The British extended the track from Coimbatore to Mettupalayam the same year and set up the Mettupalayam station. The desire of the British to travel to Ooty and the need to transport tea from the hills got them lay a track between Mettupalayam and Coonoor by 1897, making it a key railway town.
On August 31, more arrangements will be made as part of the celebrations. The officials said students would be taken on a joy ride from Mettupalayam to Kallar. The Salem divisional railway manager would honour the employees of Mettupalayam railway station at a function to be held at the railway museum.
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