Coming fresh from a visit to Vermont, I ventured on the back roads around upstate New York. The country was far too beautiful to pass up with rolling, overcast skies for as far as the eye can see. Autumn colors were plentiful. Rounding the corner, I look over, and out of the corner of my eye, I sighted derelict locomotives. I did a quick turnabout in the car and hurried back. This was too photogenic to pass up.
Two of the locomotives were GG-1 electrics, built by General Electric and the Pennsylvania Railroad’s (PRR) famed Altoona Works. The PRR 4917 dated to 1942 while the PRR 4909 dated to 1941, and both were later used for initial Amtrak runs. The locomotives were then purchased by the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Heritage Railroad (C&CV).
The C&CV was incorporated in 1865 as the Cooperstown & Susquehanna Valley Railroad Company which desired a line between Cooperstown to Colliersville. Construction began in early 1868 and the C&SV opened in July 1869, with extensions later built to Richfield Springs and Davenport. The Delaware and Hudson Railroad (D&H) purchased stock control of the C&SV’s successor, the C&CV, in June 1903, which allowed the D&H to block any extension of the New York & Mohawk Valley Railroad.
D&H sold the Cooperstown Junction to Cooperstown segment to the Delaware Otsego Corporation in 1970 who then resurrected the C&CV brand as a heritage railroad. Freight usage along the route dropped over the years and the last through freight train operated in December 1987 with common carrier service ending in April 1989. Delaware Otsego petitioned to abandon 16½ miles of the C&CV in November 1993 and it was granted in July 1995.
The Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society offered to acquire the remainder of the C&CV from Delaware Otsego in December 1993, with the goal of running excursion trains over the route. The non-profit undertook a fundraising campaign to buy the railroad and in May 1995, the Society received $225,000 from the state Department of Transportation which was matched with a $900,000 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) grant. The Society purchased the C&CV from Delaware Otsego in July 1997 and eight miles of track between Cooperstown and Milford was renovated in 1998 and 1999. Two multi-modal grants from the state allowed for the acquisition of rolling stock and locomotives.
The first revenue passenger train by the historical society operated over the rechristened C&CV on June 6, 1999. Portions of the C&CV still remain out of service due to track conditions.