The Napanoch Depot Restoration Project
by Jeff Rubin
I began researching the history of the O&W Napanoch Depot in the late spring of 1998, and spoke with Art Robb not long afterward. Art provided us with the Station blueprints, track map, and heating diagram, which we used to apply for listing the Station on the National Register of Historic Places. We were successful, and the Station was listed on the NYS Register 12/98 and the National Register 2/99. Art also collected a Napanoch Station folder of photos and documents, which he provided us Xerox copies of, as well as Xeroxes of relevant timetables.
We subsequently drew on the above-noted materials, along with other research I did, to apply for a TEA-21 Federal grant, which we were also successful in gaining approval for, as announced at the end of March 2000 by Lt. Governor Mary Donohue in a ceremony at the Station. The purpose of the TEA-21 grant is to use those funds to restore the Napanoch Depot, to the extent possible, consistent with the 1902 blueprints from the O&WRHS Archives, as a small museum (which is intended to eventually be open to the public on a scheduled basis). The museum is planned for interpreting some aspects of the history of the Station itself, its relationship to the D&H Canal, its relationship to the surrounding community, its relationship to the prison, its relationship to the E&K branch (in Ulster County), and conveying a bio of the primary station agent, James C. Atkins (who was the station agent at Napanoch for 50 years). Hopefully, there are a couple of O&WRHS members who would be interested to volunteer as informal "guides" to visitors when the Station is finally ready to open as a museum...perhaps for half a day on Saturday or Sunday on a weekly basis, maybe from May thru October or whatever schedule that could be worked out with those interested.
The blueprints, and photos we took of the actual Station, were also used - with consultation from John Forni - to enable one of our inmates to create the famous O-gauge scale model of the Station as it would have appeared in 1902. The model was one of the highlights of the 3/00 Kingston Model Railroad Club Show at the Kingston Armory, the NYS Department of Correctional Services "Corrections on Canvass" annual art show, and also was displayed at Ulster County Community College's Mid-Hudson Health & Safety Institute's annual Traffic & Safety Fair 5/00. The model's most recent appearance was at the Eastern New York Correctional Facility (ENYCF) Centennial Community Tour 8/26/00 - seen by about 850 visitors - and it will also be displayed at the ENYCF Centennial Banquet 9/23/00. Postcard views of E&K branch depots provided by Ken Shuker and scanned by Ron Vassallo, and a number of other scanned postcard views that I purchased and/or were donated by area postcard club members, were used together with photos of E&K depot sites in the present, by the same inmate who did the Station model, to create a "then and now" display panel that I designed, which was also shown during the 8/26/00 ENYCF Community Tour and will be at the 9/23/00 ENYCF Banquet. Lastly, we also purchased Station sign drawings which were used by a local signmaker/ artist to recreate the Napanoch Station sign to accurate historic specs: it was hung on the Station itself late this spring. This restoration project is being done by the ENYCF and is on the Napanoch Correctional Facility grounds.
If you have any questions or are interested in volunteering at the depot please contact Jeff at: JRUBIN9@hvc.rr.com
Editor's Note: On behalf of the O&WRHS I would like to express our thanks to Art Robb for the many tireless hours he spends in the archives tracking down maps, blueprints and other materials for projects like this or for others just looking for a map or a single photo. Thanks Art!
Napanoch Depot UpdateFollowing the enthusiatic response to the June 15th, 2007 Grand Opening (to mark the completion of major restoration work, as well as the 105th anniversary of the start of regular passenger service at Napanoch) and participation in Napanoch Day on June 16th, 2007, the Station/Museum is now open to the public on an ongoing basis!
"We are open the first Sunday of each month from 10 AM to 2 PM, and the 2nd Sunday of each month from 11 AM to 3 PM."
Displays tell the history of the Station, its relationship to the E & K Branch of the O & W, its relationship to the D & H Canal, its relationship to Eastern New York Correctional Facility, and its relationship to the surrounding community. ADMISSION IS FREE.
Directions: From the north, take Rt. 209 South to Napanoch to the only traffic light on Rt. 209 in Napanoch. Turn left onto Institution Road. Proceed to the bridge, and turn right at the blue & yellow historic marker immediately after the bridge. You will see the Station/Museum directly ahead. From the South, take Rt.209 North to Napanoch to the traffic light, turn right onto Institution Road, and follow the directions as above.
Parking is in the blacktopped lot nearest the Station/Museum.
Photos of the Eastern New York Correctional Facility are NOT permitted; photos of the Station/Museum are welcomed.
Photo Gallery of Napanoch Open House
Photos by Joe Bux