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Columns

March 24, 2014

Railroad declined, other industries surged locally in 1954

Oneonta was enduring several ups and downs in its employment picture. New fashion and music were also making news as diversions to these “big stories.” It was a part of our local life and times during March 1954.

A “good news/bad news” story about Oneonta’s economy appeared in The Oneonta Star of Tuesday, March 4, 1954.

“Pressed for immediate space because of expanding business, Enterprise Aluminum Co., Inc. has leased a part of the Delaware & Hudson Railroad roundhouse, and is using it as an emergency warehouse.”

“The announcement was made yesterday by Robert B. Fisk, manager of the aluminum plant, and Charles H. House, division superintendent of the D&H.”

The good news was that Enterprise, which had built a plant in 1952 on lower River Street, where Corning Inc. is today, was doing a booming business. The D&H, however, had recently closed its giant roundhouse. The space was formerly used to maintain steam locomotives since 1906. On Dec. 2, 1954, demolition began on 36 of 52 stalls. The use of new diesel locomotives led to the decline of the need for the roundhouse.

On March 5, it was also announced that because of current business conditions on the D&H, 14 Oneontans were being furloughed until “as soon as conditions permit.”

Enterprise wasn’t alone in enjoying better times for local business.

The Star reported on March 17 how, “Business is booming in one Oneonta industry to such extent that it can’t get enough experienced help and must turn down orders.”

“Oneonta Plains Manufacturing Co., on Country Club Road, is currently advertising for more machine operators to turn out women’s dresses.”

“If anyone fears a so-called recession it is not Murray Grossman, president and co-manager, nor Mrs. Lillian Creighton, secretary and co-manager.” A large advertisement appeared in the Star on March 18, and people could apply in person at the plant, or at a sister plant in Cooperstown, on the fourth floor of the Second National Bank building.

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