Group Hopes To Save 1906 Depot

Salem
Threatened: Depot, Salem, N.Y.

Credit: Stephen J. Hussar

Fans of a century-old railroad depot in Salem, N.Y., are pinning their hopes on funding from the state of New York to repair the broken-down building.

The Salem Depot, constructed in 1906, stands on the foundation of a former depot built in 1852. The current building is much larger than its predecessor, and part of the foundation rests on stone piers, which have suffered significant water damage in recent years. In addition, the roof is in serious need of repair, and the interior has not been maintained since the last station agent left in 1973.

"Although it's a modest depot—in the Delaware & Hudson Railway style, almost a cookie-cutter example—it was our depot, a very important depot," says Al Cormier, a local historian. "Many old-timers can remember getting their first car there."

The Northeastern New York Railroad Preservation Group Inc., which was deeded 36 miles of railroad and two depots in 1994, received a $150,000 matching grant in 1998 for repairs. Unfortunately the grant expired in 2007, and the group only used $7,300 of the allocated funds. The group must now collect extensive documentation if it wants to extend the grant.

The original depot was used during the Civil War as a mustering station for the 123rd regiment of the New York state volunteers. Roughly 1,000 men boarded the train there and left for Washington, D.C., to fight in 1862. In 1934, the passenger service ceased, and a year later the depot was sold to the Knights of Columbus as a meeting area. In 1946, the Delaware and Hudson railway bought back the depot and converted it for moving freight.

"There are very few depots that are intact and are available for public use," says Bruce Ferguson, chairman of the Preservation Group. "It's a historic middle of the line depot between Eagle Bridge New York, and Castleton, Vermont. We need to save it, that's for sure."

 

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