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Columns

December 3, 2012

Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society rolling along at 30

(Continued)

Through fundraising and a few Caboose Festivals in the early 1980s, the red caboose was enclosed, and the group looked to establish a museum. The first aim was for Oneonta, but plans never materialized.

“My biggest disappointment,” Hodges said, “is that we couldn’t get together the coalition that would be necessary to save the remains of the old roundhouse,” which was in the D&H railyards, and at one time the biggest repair shop for locomotives in the world. That was once the most hopeful site for this museum, despite its deteriorated condition. It was quietly razed in December 1993.

In hindsight, Hodges said, if the same attitudes today toward state and local historic preservation and tourism had been around in 1983, the remains of that roundhouse would be standing as a railroad museum.

With this and other sites in the city not working out, Catella informed the group that a piece of property was available in Cooperstown Junction, as part the proposed project for the state Route 7 connector with Interstate 88. It showed potential, being along the main line of the D&H. With help from then-state Sen. L. Stephen Riford, the group purchased the land for a museum.

Hodges said there were thoughts of buying or leasing some of the track owned by the Delaware-Otsego Corp. for a short excursion train from that point northbound, to add to this possible tourist draw. Walter Rich, D-O president, presented them with the idea of buying the entire line to Cooperstown. Another owner of the property where the Milford railroad depot is, also came up with an offer for the group. Various funding sources and fundraising made both possible. LRHS decided to make Milford the site of the museum and use the Cooperstown Junction site as a business office.

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