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Answered by ESRM Curator, Tom Comito

The month of June in our 2020 Calendar features perhaps the most well-known of Ulster & Delaware photos. Taken in 1899, it shows 2-6-0 #16 at the head of a train of boxcars bound for far away Mexico City. They were loaded with furniture manufactured by the Schwartzwaelder Factory in Chichester.

We tend to focus on the veteran engineer with his arm resting on 16’s cylinder, the two brakemen atop the first car, and the familiar profile of Phoenicia’s mountain backdrop.

But ESRM Life Member John Prestopino draws our attention to something else. An object just to the right of #16. It is a turntable bridge. 1899 is the year of standard gauging, so this must be a new one being delivered, but to where?

My guess is either the Phoenicia or Kaaterskill stations. Page 194 of Ham/Bucenec’s Light Rail and Short Ties Through the Notch gives us an excellent view of Kaaterskill and page 85 of The Old Up and Down by the same authors, gives us two glimpses of Phoenicia – enough to match the angle of the girder in the June calendar photo.

The subject of turntables in the Catskills is one that could be worthy of a small book. Between Phoenicia and Bloomville, including the Mountain Top and Delaware & Northern, there were no less than nine. They all may not have been in service at the same time and photographic documentation seems to be lacking for Hunter, Big Indian and Margaretville. So is a photo of the D&N turntable at Andes, but the remnants of it still exist just a short walk down the rail trail from the restored Andes Station. There hasn’t been an engine turned on it since 1922!

We’re Gearing Up for May 16, 2020 Celebration

2020 marks the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the
Empire State Railway Museum. We are trying to gather as
much information as possible to preserve the history of our
early years before the oral history is no longer possible and
the early records are lost. The task of going through all the
paperwork that we have stored in our archives is monumental and, so far, much of it pertains to the Phoenicia years starting around 1983 when the ESRM relocated to Phoenicia and settled into the historic Phoenicia Railway Station.

 

Board Members are making it their business to collect the facts, and nothing but the facts, to make a presentation after the
Annual Meeting on May 16, 2020 during our Founders Day
Celebration. Why not become a part of living history and tell
us what you know, donate your early memorabilia or just lend it
to us. Help us set the record straight. We will come talk to you or pick up items, of course within certain limits. Or perhaps we’ll hold a small get-together in Kingston to have a discussion. Even let us
know if you know of someone who has information.Contact us as soon as possible!

Pictured above is the Marquette & Huron Mountain No. 23 as shown in the Summer 2019 issue of Classic Trains magazine and photographed on Sept. 1, 1964 by Jerry Pinkepank. On the right is the same Engine 23, which is now owned by the Empire State Railway Museum.
The above aluminum casting of ESRM-owned #23’s number
plate was presented to the Museum by Director Earl Pardini
and hand-painted by member Carol Welch. It took six coats of gold to bring it to this perfected state. It will be on display in the Museum starting May 2020 along with its steam whistle and
headlight. #23 sits in our car barn awaiting restoration but is always in our hearts.