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May 2, 2013

Railroad history can be found at library

Oneonta has a long history when it comes to the railroad. Beginning in the 1860s, the railroad industry came to Oneonta, supporting its economic and population growth. The New York State Room has many resources for railroad buffs, students and researchers alike. There are many vertical files on the history of the railroad in our area and those clippings cover so many aspects of the railroad.

We have a long run of “Rail Times,” the publication of the Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society, Leatherstocking Chapter, located in Oneonta. The “Rail Times” includes national railroad news as well as local news, book reviews and historical factoids about the railroad in years past. In one issue, there is an article about the “Castleton Cutoff.” Apparently, the New York Central Railroad had a traffic jam in Albany. Trains from Central, the Boston and Albany, the D&H, and the Boston and Maine all converged in one area and delays and confusion were a big problem. In 1924, they solved this problem with construction of the Castleton Cutoff, which cost $25 million and took 2½ years to complete. The article describes the decade long struggle to accomplish this feat.

Another publication in the New York State Room is “The Leatherstocking Journal” published by the Leatherstocking Railway Museum. Each issue includes news and updates, as well as interesting articles about the history of the railroad in our area. In one issue of the “The Leatherstocking Journal,” Jim Loudon writes about the American Caboose comparing it to America’s first mobile home. The crews of the train ate, slept and found shelter in their train’s caboose. According to this article, the first caboose appeared around the 1840s but they didn’t become known as cabooses until 1885. Some words used to describe a caboose were: Go-kart, Hack, Buffy, Brain-box, Bazoo Wagon, Palace Parlor, Monkey Cage, Den, Treasure Chest, and Glory Wagon.

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