The Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society (LRHS), a 501(c)(3) educational corporation was created to preserve, protect and present the rich railroad heritage of Otsego County and the surrounding area of New York State. The company’s mission statement and goals are as follows:
Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society Mission Statement:
• To establish, maintain and operate a center for the historical preservation and exhibition of railroad equipment and memorabilia.
• To acquire, index and make available literature and other related publications and periodicals pertinent to railroads and their history.
• To record and preserve the recollections and memories of the local craftsmen
and workers of the railroad.
• To collect and acquire by purchase, gift, loan or otherwise, artifacts of railroad history and to preserve and exhibit same in such a manner as to be accessible to the public.
• To bring forth the origin and life of the railroad worker.
• To stimulate, promote and excite interest in the modern railway industry.
• To promote the writing and arts pertaining to local railroad history.
• To establish a living museum by operating passenger service on the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad.
• To create and set up exhibits of the crafts and activities of the railway industry, past and present.
• To record the impact of the railroads on the community development in the Central Leatherstocking and the northwestern Catskill Regions of New York State, with primary emphasis on Otsego, Delaware, Schoharie and Chenango Counties.
Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society Goals:
• Acquire a site and facility for the museum to house exhibits, a library and office space for the Society.
• Acquire, preserve and restore railway equipment.
• Design exhibits, displays and operating models for the museum.
• Prepare and present exhibits of art, photographs and audiovisual programs on local railroading, past and present.
• Hold meetings to further educate Society members and the public on railroad history.
• Collect and publish information on the restoration, conservation, documentation and proper care of railroad artifacts.
• Develop and implement a collection plan for library materials and museum artifacts.
• Establish a railroad passenger operation between Cooperstown and Cooperstown Junction over the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad.
• Acquire locomotive and car shop facilities by purchase, lease or new construction at Milford, NY.
• Acquire, erect and preserve railroad buildings and structures.
• Continued preservation of the Little Red Caboose, founding home of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, in Oneonta’s Neahwa Park.
Since its creation in 1982 LRHS has achieved or made considerable progress towards these mission statements and goals. Several properties have been purchased and renovated. The Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad was acquired and renovated for use as a tourist railroad. Many pieces of rail equipment have been acquired for use on the train operations and for static display. Thousands of artifacts have been donated or purchased for the museum’s archives.
The Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad, a 16-mile shortline, is an ideal location for a tourist passenger operation due to its proximity to the Cooperstown, one of Upstate New York’s most popular tourist destinations. With over 150,000 people a year visiting Cooperstown’s National Baseball Hall of Fame the market for such an operation is in place. In addition, the railroad runs through the Cooperstown Dream Park Youth Baseball Camp, providing another substantial source of passengers. The railroad and museum sites are easily accessible from Interstate 88 by way of NYS Route 28.