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Milton Training Days

125 Year Old Station is Rescued, Will Be Rehabilitated, and Reused by Vivian Yess Wadlin

trainFollow the mile markers along the CSX tracks north along the Hudson River and at marker #68 you will see the Milton Train Station looking much as it did 125 years ago–except the train doesn’t stop now. No wagons line up to disgorge the bounty of Ulster County. There are no baggage handlers, no carts, no produce agents, no station agent, no boxes, no bales, and no travelers awaiting high adventure to the north or south. There are no steamships lined up at the dock. No passengers bedecked in their finest, no fish for sale, and no seamen’s’ shouts filtering in on the shore breeze.

Circa 1913 postcard. Milton Depot, Courtesy of G.M. Mastropaolo

Today, as I write this, sitting on the loading platform of the train station, there is quiet. But, every weekend in June and for the foreseeable future, you will encounter carpenters, plumbers, laborers, architects, engineers (no, not trainmen), craftspeople and painters. They are bringing the station, once abandoned, back to life. This lovely old station will be the heart of a riverside park serving the people of Milton and Marlboro, and the lucky outsiders who searched out a spot to enjoy one of the world’s most beautiful rivers or to watch the trains rush by.

plaqueTomorrow (figuratively speaking, of course), you will sit on this loading platform and listen to the whistle and rumble of the more than 27 trains a day traversing the CSX line. Perhaps when you do, you will recall the currants, raspberries, apples, pears, peaches, vegetables, wheat, milk, and hundreds of other products coming and going at this very spot. Products ordered from afar, leaving here to sustain the bank accounts of farming, manufacturing, and mining operations throughout the county. In other trains, thousands of products shipped from all over the world almost to the doorsteps of homes, businesses, and organizations large and small in Ulster County.

If you’re impressed with the sturdy little station, thank the Philadelphia architects, Wilson Brothers and Co., who designed it in 1883 for the New York, West Shore, and Buffalo Railway (NY, WS, & B). NY, WS, & B trains carried passengers and freight between Weehawkin, NJ and Buffalo and Chicago. With 400 miles of double track to lay, the company drilled through mountains. Considered engineering marvels, one of the three major tunnels is beneath the parade grounds of West Point.

In 1885, after a shipping price war, the line became a subsidiary of the powerful New York Central line of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Passenger service ended in 1952 but it was still a freight station until 1968 when it was further merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad to form Penn Central. Then, in the mid 1970s, it became part of the Conrail System with the current owner, CSX, taking over in 1998.

The station and surrounding property was purchased by the Royal Kedem Winery and used as a wine processing and tasting facilit for a number of years. Royal Kedem graciously donated the property to the Town of Marlborough, and The Friends of the Milton On Hudson Train Station became the Town’s partner in the station’s resurrection.

Postcard courtesy of G.M. Mastropaolo Postcard courtesy of G.M. Mastropaolo

After a conditions report by a historic preservation architect was completed, the Friends group had its marching orders. Hundreds of volunteer hours have been dedicated to the reports’ recommendations. Clean-up alone has taken almost 1000 hours of back-breaking labor, and by the time you read this, much of the actual restoration work will have commenced. Architect and project manager, Pat Quick, is riding herd on this eager group to assure that the work brings the station look as close to authenticity as possible given the modern requirements of handicap access, and fire and building codes. Architect and boardmember, Peter Hoffman, has donated the architectural renderings that infuse volunteers with enthusiasm to make “it look just like that.”

New York State and Federal Historical Designation have been achieved. Though these make fundraising a little easier, there is still money to be raised and work to be done. For instance, the standing seam metal roof will cost about $40,000, a sprinkler system $20,000, architecturally correct windows and doors, about $60,000…

Looking south at the Milton Train Station, 1910. Postcard from the collection of G. Mastorpaolo. Looking south at the Milton Train Station, 1910. Postcard from the collection of G. Mastorpaolo.

Looking south from the Milton Train Station, May 08. Photo by JJWadlin. Looking south from the Milton Train Station, May 08. Photo by JJWadlin.

The Friends see in the station and the surrounding park a future venue for bringing the town’s residents together–having art shows, public meetings, picnics, musical events, dances, lectures, historical displays, and as a showcase for the town.

The Friends’ announcements for work days states, “A National Treasure is being rehabilitated right in your own backyard!! Open House and tour every 1st & 3rd Sunday of the month from 2 to 3 pm. But of course, you can also come with your hammer, work gloves, safety glasses, snack, water, and sense of wonder and accomplishment, by gosh, and help.

Call to volunteer: Glenn Clarke, 845-795-5498, or email TrainStationFriends@yahoo.com. To donate, send your tax-decuctible contribution to Friends of the Milton On Hudson Train Station, 25 Watson Avenue, Milton, NY 12542.

Whoo whoo… we need you!

The 1823 Milton Train Station, May 2008, its 125th year. Photos by John J. Wadlin. The 1823 Milton Train Station, May 2008, its 125th year. Photos by John J. Wadlin.
The 1823 Milton Train Station, May 2008, its 125th year. Photos by John J. Wadlin.

Postcard courtesy of G.M. Mastroapolo: Unknown date but certainly prior to 1952 when passenger service ended at the station. Freight shipping contiued in to the late 1960s. Postcard courtesy of G.M. Mastroapolo: Unknown date but certainly prior to 1952 when passenger service ended at the station. F