The Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad is a heritage railroad that operates between Cooperstown Junction and Milford, New York. Significant portions of the line are either abandoned or out-of-service.
The Cooperstown & Susquehanna Valley Railroad (C&SV) was incorporated in 1865 with the goal of building a line between Cooperstown and the Albany & Susquehanna Rail Road in Colliersville. 1 Construction began in February 1868 2 3 and the first train operated over the C&SV on July 14, 1869. 4 While built to a broad gauge to be compatible with the Albany & Susquehanna, 5 it was converted to standard gauge on May 28, 1876. 6
The C&SV was extended from Cooperstown north to Richfield Springs in 1869, and south to Davenport in 1885. 7
The Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad (C&CV) was incorporated in 1888 to construct a line between Cooperstown Junction and Davenport, and six miles of grading between Cooperstown Junction and West Davenport was finished by the winter of 1889. 7 By early 1890, the track layers had reached Davenport Center and grading was starting east of Harpersfield.
On April 15, 1891, the C&CV leased the C&SV. 9
In June 1903, the Delaware & Hudson Railroad (D&H) purchased stock control of the C&CV to block any extension of the newly formed New York & Mohawk Valley Railroad.
The D&H sold the Cooperstown Junction to Cooperstown segment of the C&CV to the Delaware Otsego Corporation in 1970. 10 The sale was negotiated by the company after it was forced to sell two miles of its former New York Central Railroad line out of Oneonta as that land was being condemned for the construction of Interstate 88. Under Delaware Otsego, the C&CV brand was resurrected, and new maintenance facilities were built at Milford with Delaware Otsego moving into the former Cooperstown station. The C&CV was operated as a heritage railroad using an ex-Virginia Blue Ridge Railroad steam locomotive until 1974 and diesel locomotives for the remainder of the decade. Passenger excursions were occasionally held until the mid-1980s.
Freight trains declined on the C&CV throughout Delaware Otsego’s ownership, leading to the storage of St. Lawrence Railroad boxcars on the line. The last freight train operated over the C&CV in December 1987 with common carrier service discontinued on April 25, 1989. 8 Delaware Otsego petitioned to abandon the C&CV in November 1993 12 and was granted permission to abandon 16½ miles of their line on July 1995.
Delaware Otsego offered to sell the C&CV to the Leatherstocking Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society) in December 1993. 12 The Society undertook a fundraising campaign to purchase the line with the goal of operating passenger excursions.
The organization received $225,000 from the state Department of Transportation in May 1995 which was used as a 20% match for a $900,000 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) grant. 12 The money was used to purchase the C&CV in July 1997 and to renovate eight miles of track between Cooperstown and Milford in 1998-99. Two subsequent multi-modal grants allowed for the purchase of rolling stock and locomotives.
The first excursion train by the Society was operated between Cooperstown and Milford over the C&CV on June 6, 1999. 12 The remainder of the line, from Cooperstown to Cooperstown Junction, is still out-of-service.
The C&CV features two disused GG-1 electric locomotives. One is a circa 1942 Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) 4917, later reused as Amtrak 4934. Another on-site is a circa 1941 PRR 4909, then reused as Amtrak 4932. In a failed attempt to relocate the locomotive to Connecticut, it was partially repainted in 2001. PRR 4909 was acquired by the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan in April 2008 and had asbestos abated.
[su_spoiler title=”Sources” icon=”caret”]
- Corporate History of the Delaware and Hudson Company and Subsidiary Companies, Vol. II. The Delaware and Hudson Company. 1906. p. 159.
- “Final Payment on Cooperstown Railroad Made”. The Otsego Farmer. Cooperstown, NY. August 20, 1938. p. 5.
- “Railroads Come High When Built”. The Otsego Farmer. Cooperstown, NY. December 11, 1931. p. 4.
- Albany Evening Journal Albany, NY. July 14, 1869.
- The Daily Observer. Utica, NY. October 25, 1875.
- Morning Herald. Utica, NY. May 31, 1876. p. 2.
- Corporate History of the Delaware and Hudson Company and Subsidiary Companies, Vol. II. The Delaware and Hudson Company. 1906.
- Lewis, Edward A. “Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railway.” American Shortline Railway Guide, Waukesha, Kalmbach Publishing, 1996, p. 356.
- Shaughnessy, Jim. “Branching Out.” Delaware & Hudson, Syracuse University Press, 1997, p. 202.
- Winn, Jay. “Year 1971.” Grandfather, Oneonta & Me, 2016, p. 59.
- Dufresne, Marilyn E. Delaware and Hudson Railway, Charleston, Arcadia, 2010, n.p.
- “History of the LRHS.” Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society. 2016. Web.