For the love of the rails

time table
mighty crane
Going somewhere.
Jordan spreader
Young engineers
On its way

By Wanda Callagy

In August each year there is a group of folks who get together to share their talents and knowledge of working on the railroad.

The Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad offers not only this experience which is as hands on as one could want, from fixing tracks or engine workIMG_7870 IMG_7877 to simply enjoying the ride.

In 1997 the Leatherstocking Railway Historic Society as an organization was incorporated as a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) tax exempt educational corporation by the New York State Department of Education and became an affiliate of the National Railway Historical Society on May 7, 1983, being designated the Leatherstocking Chapter.  IMG_7897  IMG_7810 And, history to explore.  One of the objectives of the organization was not only to create a local railroad museum, but the acquisition and operation of the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad built in 1869.  A sixteen mile long tourist railroad brings visitors from Milford to Cooperstown, Home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bruce Hodges, president of the organization since 1985 explained that it is the love by the volunteers  of the rails and the love of the history  who make this happen.  The train’s schedule includes everything from seeing the fall colors to having time with Santa.

“We have families who come year after year for some of our special trains, and one group travels from Boston, he added.  They now have grown with the tradition and bring their family.”

Ticket sales and volunteers keep this all alive, Hodges said.  ” The Railfan Day that we have the first weekend of August every year is a draw. Many bring their equipment in, such as the velocipede or pump cars for rides.  The day each year grows in more people visiting, more success, ” he said.

“We have a guest engineer program, and we are always looking for volunteers of many railroad disciplines such as brakemen or track work..something for everyone here.

The Cooperstown Blues Express is popular in the summer months, and is run a bit separately due to the liabilities of that equipment and maintaining a liquor license.  Weekly blues bands liven up the woodsy tour with music and dancing.   The Easter Bunny Express and the Train Robberies are busy trips, also,” Hodges  added.

For more information on the Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society, or to get the 2015 operating schedule, visit their website at or reach the main office by telephone @607-432-2429.

“We always have time for questions, and we look forward to seeing new families.  Every day here we add a new page to the history of all this,” he says.  It is quite a legacy.”

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