I will mention at the onset that my wife and I love to ride excursion trains (and I imagine anyone reading this blog does too) but our favorite aspect isn't a vintage steam locomotive or nicely restored coaches or even the scenery. The best part of any trip is the opportunity to ride in an open-air car, usually a gondola or an old converted coach. Getting the rush of the fresh air, seeing and hearing the noises of the train and scenery going by you, and the ability to walk about and stretch make it the best car on the train. The CACV had just such a car, a gondola with a frame for what I would guess would be a tarp roof in the fall. We spent a lot of the time there.
So, when we got to the first photo opportunity spot I asked the crew if my wife could join me, and they agreed. As a result, she got her first cab ride. I don't think she appreciated the nuances of an old Alco bumping around or the noise and grime from a working piece of machinery, but we both got a kick when the engine literally shut off on its own twice during the trip! They thought we had done something, but we had only been sitting there looking out of the windows. Crazy old Alco engines! Despite the set backs, I really got a thrill with the cab ride and now appreciate even more the hard work that railroad crews put in for hours in a cab.
The railroad ran through some pretty scenery, and every now and then we would see water from a parallel stream. Despite being in the summer, the grass and trees weren't dead from the heat and many of the pictures I took show a bucolic side of New York State that I miss living near Albany. Someday, hopefully we can retire and move back out into the country. When we got to photo spots, I sometimes got out to take pictures and sometimes I just ducked in the cab so I wouldn't be visible and ruin everyone else's pictures. I imagine that if you squint enough in some you can still see me. Oh well.
The next couple of photos show the train arriving in the Village of Cooperstown. The old train station in the Village itself has some boxcars and a passenger car on display, and it is still used as the headquarters for the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway Corporation, but it has no physical track or corporate business connections with the CACV. A road separates the northern most end of track for the CACV and the isolated railroad equipment at the old station. The CACV built a runaround track just south of this area where its tourist trains can turn around before their return trip to Milford, the departure area for trains and about the half-way point of the railroad (the southern half really isn't used much).
The rare mileage portion of this trip came in the fact that we ventured north about a half-mile from the passing siding. I don't know when Glen Avenue, the road separating the active railroad from the station, had been paved over and cut the track in two, but it had been many years. From what I understand, someone had examined the track up to Glen Avenue before to make sure it was safe for travel but the clearances would be tight. We started off by heading along track that ran parallel to a Price Chopper parking lot. I am sure that many of the shoppers were very confused to find a train along that stretch of track.
And then we slowly, very slowly, ventured north to the end of the track. The pictures here tell the story...
Since this time, the AH&TS hasn't sponsored another trip, and I haven't been back to the CACV either. From what I understand, the "blue beast" (my nickname) for the engine I rode in has been repainted into the black, white and red Canadian National scheme #8223. Here is a great online picture of her now. There are also several other Alco switch engines on the property with various owners. Were it not for the pandemic I would have probably have ridden it again this year. Perhaps in 2021 I will get a chance to return.