Thanks to the donated labor of volunteers, the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad has resumed operation between Milford Depot and the Cooperstown Dreams Park.
Bruce Hodges of Oneonta, the president of the nonprofit organization that runs the train, said it began running again last Saturday.
“We had spent the last six grueling weeks in the hot, sunny weather doing the repairs,” Hodges said. “We spent quite a few vacation days to get caught up on the track work.”
Still to be completed, he said, is track work needed between the Dreams Park stop on Route 28 and the village of Cooperstown. He said he hopes that work can be completed by next spring in order to shuttle riders all the way to the village.
Hodges announced in July that the train run was being suspended following an inspection of the track by the Federal Railroad Administration.
“It was really the conclusion of both sides that we should probably just shut down so we could get caught up on our track repairs,” he said Wednesday.
He said the fact the railroad remains limited to going only as far north as the Dreams Park “is fine for what we need to do for the rest of the season.” Special events, such as a haunted Halloween train ride and train robbery re-enactments, will continue. Using vintage cars and locomotives, the railroad, built in 1869, gives riders a chance to experience what train travel had been like through the Upper Susquehanna River Valley in the 19th century.
During the winter of 2010-2011, Hodges said, one section of track just north of Milford “just dropped down and shifted over about three feet.”
“That took all of our money we had for repairs,” he said. “These things always seem to happen in the middle of nowhere. We had to buy a lot of stone to fill that in. That really put us behind the eight ball and that kept us from keeping up with the usual repairs we do.”
On its web site, the Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society, the organization that runs the railroad, thanks Wade Barney of Barney & Sons Well Drilling for donating the use of his skid steer, and a neighbor, Larry Curry, for providing his dump truck to facilitate the track repairs.
Three weeks ago, an Albany-based blues group, Folding Sky, headlined a benefit event for the railroad at the Milford Depot.
The historical society has sought to preserve much of the region’s important railroad artifacts, including a four-wheel caboose that in 1883 served as the meeting place for eight Oneonta railroad workers who organized the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, the nation’s first union for railway workers.