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December 13, 2013

Museum to feature refurbished railroad car

By Cheryl Petersen Contributing writer
The Daily Star

---- — The Christmas Stroll on Saturday at the village of Franklin has an added attraction for railroad enthusiasts. The doors to the Franklin Railroad & Community Museum will be open from 1 to 6 p.m. 

“Inside the modern facility is displayed the refurbished train car No. 30, also referred to as the Warwick,” said Franklin Mayor John Campbell.

The Warwick was built in 1889 by Jackson and Sharp for the New York Ontario Western Rail Road, the first Class One railroad to be abandoned in the United States, in 1957. The Warwick was utilized for private and business use.

The Warwick was purchased in 2002 by Franklin resident Walter Rich, former president and director of the New York Susquehanna and Western Railway. 

“Walter Rich was an avid railroad collector and he organized the Franklin Railroad and Community Museum before his death in 2007,” said Campbell.

In 2007, the Warwick was transported to Franklin at 536 Main St., and a museum was built around the car. “Walter Rich designed the museum to protect the train car,” said  Campbell.

The Warwick was once attributed to being the carriage for President Cleveland during his honeymoon, but that was disproved years later.

In 1909, the Warwick was retrofitted. The observation room was extended six feet, and the wood frame was replaced with a cast steel frame, to reduce its chances of catching fire.

After the Rail Road went defunct, the Warwick sat in Buffalo for a few years until it was taken to Attica and used as a static display at the Arcade and Attica Railroad Museum.

Car No. 30 sat outside, making it vulnerable to water damage and disrepair. Many dining items were stolen from the car at the Arcade.

After Walter Rich purchased the Warwick, he called upon Bill Rigby, owner/operator of W. M. J. Rigby Company in Cooperstown and a specialist in authentic hardware, to restore the train car with the intent to retain authenticity.

Rigby and some workers stripped three layers of deteriorated roofing off the Warwick before repairing the roof boards. The roof was re-canvassed and tacked on with more than 5,400 tacks.

A solid bronze rail on an open railing, weighing 354 pounds, was straightened and made useful. The outside of the Warwick was painted its original color.

The Franklin Railroad & Community Museum also contains a curated research room and library.

They are replete with old maps, train schedules, books and relics. In the middle of the library’s open room is the large table containing chairs used by the Delaware and Hudson Railroad board of directors headquartered in Albany. Behind the table, next to the wall, is a self-standing clock that for many years told the time at the Unadilla Valley Railroad headquarters in New Berlin.

Visitors to the Franklin Stroll will also tour nine homes decorated for the holiday season. Maps are available at the Fire House after 12:45 p.m. for a donation.

A press release said the Stroll, hosted by the Franklin Improvement Society, includes other activities such as Grandma’s Pantry, Holiday Market, a jewelry and craft sale, garden slide show, dinner with live music, cocoa, coffee house ... and Santa.

A rehearsed reading of the classic tale, “The Snow Queen” with a holiday reception will be held at the Franklin Stage Company Production from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Shops on Main Street will be open. Two dinner options will be served, said the press release. Activities are located in the local churches and businesses.