NEW LEBANON, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Nestled behind the New Lebanon Library along Route 20 in Columbia County lies something you may not have known even existed. An old, wooden structure that’s been abandoned for decades, now hoping to be restored.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, passengers would fill New Lebanon’s train depot to catch a ride along the Corkscrew Railroad, “Even many people in town are barely aware that this train station was even here,” said Margaret Robertson, who’s helping with the restoration effort.
Those involved with the Corkscrew Rail Trail, which is an unpaved walking trail along the former rail line, is raising money in an effort to restore the site.
“We’ve seen buildings of great value that have been torn down or fallen down, so this is one of our oldest buildings and one of the last ones we can save,” said Joe Ogilvie, the President of the Corkscrew Rail Trail.
Funding will go towards the restoration efforts, as well as paying off years of back taxes. The group hopes to make the old depot a destination along the trail, while also using it as an opportunity to showcase New Lebanon’s rich history.
“The more we can create stories about local history, hopefully it will get children interested and generations to come, to continue telling the story about it. It’s very very important,” Robertson explained.
The depot’s history dates back to the mid-1800’s. The Bennington and Rutland Railroad added the corkscrew in an effort to get south to New York City while avoiding the Boston and Maine Railroad in Troy.
“You won’t give us good service, so we’re going to go around it. And they were connecting with what became the Harlem Division of the New York Central coming up in Chatham,” said Bill Badger, Membership Chair for the Rutland Railroad Historical Society.
The line began near the Bennington Museum, which has several artifacts showcasing its history. The route gained its “corkscrew” nickname by the curving through the mountains of Vermont and New York.
“They spilled soup in the dining car. It was just too windy, too curvy,” Badger explained.
Passenger service along the route ended in 1931, but other service, including milk deliveries remained until 1953.
Nearing the 70 year mark of the termination of the railroad, the group in New Lebanon hopes to celebrate by making headway on the depot’s restoration.
The Corkscrew Rail Trail has more information about ways you can donate to help with the restoration efforts.