Already amongst the largest railroad roundhouses in the world, Oneonta’s was about to get bigger. A steeplejack thrilled a downtown crowd while painting, while gymnasium work began for Oneonta High School students. These news items were among the life and times in our area in September 1917.
“Contractors are hard at work erecting a second set of seven new stalls in place of the old brick ones at the Delaware and Hudson roundhouse,” The Oneonta Star reported on Saturday, Sept. 8. It was a plan to bring the structure, used to repair and maintain steam locomotives, to “modern conditions within seven years. The new section, except for the rear, is being constructed of reinforced concrete including the floor and roof.”
“Twenty feet are being added to depth of the building, bringing it to 100 feet, and 10 feet are added to the height in the back.” Steam locomotives were getting larger, making the expansion necessary.
“When the Oneonta roundhouse was built, it was considered to be the largest one in the country. With the increase in railroad trackage, that distinction has passed, but still with its stalls for accommodating 52 engines, it ranks high.” The roundhouse was built in 1906, replacing two smaller ones in the D&H railroad yards.
“Swinging gently in the damp, cold wind of yesterday,” it was reported on Sept. 11,“Steeple Jack Eddie Wood of Cooperstown, nonchalantly puffing on his jimmy pipe, worked away painting the pinnacle of the steeple of the First Presbyterian church for hours, while far below on Main street, crowds of people gasped at his daring.”
“There was not a minute during the day that some half dozen people, sometimes 50 or 60, gazed at the man sitting in his little chair suspended from a rope. Any extra strong gust of wind that swung him a foot or so either side, sent a thrill through the watchers.”
“‘But how did he get the rope up there at the very top in the first place,’ was the question that bothered everybody. First he climbed up inside the steeple until he was within sixteen feet of the top. Then he came through an opening to the outside and by nailing three slats across one side of the steeple, he gradually worked his way up until he was able to fasten a block and fall. After that it was easy.”
“Gymnasium work by the boys of the Oneonta High school, under the direction of a male instructor, was begun yesterday for the first time in the history of the school,” the Star also reported on Sept. 11. “H.E. Hollister, a graduate of Cornell university, took the juniors and sophomores by hand in the morning and it was not until after 2:30, when he finished with the senior class.”
“Great enthusiasm was manifested by the boys as with terse commands and rapid motions they were put through setting up the exercises, dumb bell drills, breathing movements, and finally in true military fashion marched in single file around the floor.”
“There is one drawback, however, to the new physical training course…and that is that Mr. Hollister has been drafted by the National Army and must leave for Camp Ayer, Mass. on Sept. 19. What the school will do after he is gone is a question. When Mr. Hollister leaves the work will be once more thrown on the shoulders of Miss Eva Jenks, who has found the handling of both boys and girls too much for her.”
Registration was up that fall at the high school by 60 students, to 380. “This large registration has so filled the classes that in a number of the rooms some of the pupils must sit on temporary chairs placed in aisles or convenient corners. However some are expected to drop out before the term gets far advanced.” The school was then located on Academy Street, where the Academy Arms Apartments are today.
On Monday”hrongs of visitors came to Delhi in September 1957.