A train station’s next life

Callicoon station to open for tours on April 17

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 4/14/21

CALLICOON, NY — Four years ago, the railway could have taken the station apart, or carted away history’s remnants.  

But they didn’t, and anyone interested now has a …

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A train station’s next life

Callicoon station to open for tours on April 17

Posted

CALLICOON, NY — Four years ago, the railway could have taken the station apart, or carted away history’s remnants.  

But they didn’t, and anyone interested now has a chance to see what’s been happening in the hamlet’s late-19th-century station. 

Socially distant, scheduled tours will be held beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 17. Not only is this a chance for everyone to see what’s been going on in the old train station, but it’s an opportunity to offer feedback and ideas. What would people like the building to be? 

Change has been in the works since 2017, when the Central NY Railroad stopped using the facility as an office/storage space. There were major boosts when they signed a long-term lease with the Callicoon Business Association (CBA) and $450,000 in funding was secured. That funding includes state money via the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway (UDSB). 

The CBA’s all-volunteer Depot Committee has been working to turn the building into an office and visitor center for the UDSB. But there’s plenty of space in the 3,000 square foot building. They’re open to suggestions. “We want to listen to the community,” and see what they want, said John Erik Karkula, Depot Committee co-chair.

“It has taken several years to get funding in place and secure an agreement with the railroad,” said Depot Committee Co-Chair and Callicoon Business Association Board Member Nicole Vallance. “Now we get to hear the community’s ideas on how to best proceed with this adaptive re-use of the space. We are very excited.” 

Renovations and repairs have been ongoing for a while now. As far as that work is concerned, “We’re letting the building speak for itself,” said Karkula. 

That’s clear as you look at the work they’ve completed.

A tour starts in the waiting room, where a bench and luggage hint at early-20th-century passengers who’ve just stepped out for a minute. Other vintage items are here and there; it’s not a museum, just a suggestion of the building’s past. 

Doors lead to the ticketmaster’s office, to what may have been a foreman’s office, to the 1940s-era restrooms. 

The waiting room and the office are the only parts that have been restored so far, but there are plans for the whole building, and the restrooms will be made ADA-compliant.

But style-wise, “All we did was reveal what was hidden,” said Karkula. 

They uncovered several feet of extra space over the old dropped ceiling, for instance. 

Removing the previous ceiling wasn’t the only work done, of course. A wall split the old waiting room in half; that was eliminated. There are plans to renovate another wall that separates the waiting room from a later addition that was maybe a foreman’s office, Karkula said. It holds a now-covered window looking out onto the tracks. Did the foreman watch the trains from there? 

The radiator, which dates to 1890, is still there in the middle of the waiting room, and the railroad swears it works, Karkula said.

He wonders if there was originally a cupola on top of the station, channeling heat out of the building in the summer. 

The ticket master’s office will serve the UDSB as the same (although they presumably won’t use the heavy iron Underwood typewriter currently on the desk). There’s room to showcase the work of local artisans. 

On the other side of the office is a series of rooms that stored luggage and freight, with a vintage scale along one wall and a place to weigh your massive amount of stuff, should you have some. 

Nowadays, the freight area could serve as an information center, which is one possibility. Or a market? You can access the restrooms from there. You can contemplate the original minty green wainscoting. 

And, “We’re not replacing the windows,” Karkula says. “People have asked.” 

The Depot Committee is collecting memories of the station, he said. The workers are passing away, and with them, recollections of a whole way of life here are lost. The Erie was a major part of the local economy, a source of jobs year-round. 

The Erie, the station itself, the bones of the building and the spaces inside it, are all keys to Callicoon’s past. So, “This will be a community” place,” Karkula said, “to showcase the river and the towns and the history.” 

Tours can be scheduled on the Callicoon Depot website at www.callicoondepot.org, via Facebook Messenger @UDSBCallicoonDepot, or by calling the project hotline at 845/428-9212. Each tour is approximately 20 minutes and there will be time to ask questions and share ideas.

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