The Story of Roscoe's Trout Weathervane
by Wilmer E. Sipple, Town Historian
The story of Roscoe's special weathervane had its beginning when the last spike was driven at Whirling Eddy near Horton, to complete the New York & Oswego Midland Railroad, later to be known as the New York Ontario & Western Railway. Roscoe was fist named Westfield Flats but when the station was built, the name was soon changed to Rockland because of the confusion for telegraphers with the town of Westfield in western New York. In 1895, the new station was built on the site of the freight station which is now the site of the Roscoe Caboose.
The architect for the new Roscoe Station was Bradford Lee who had a precariously perched summer cabin on the upper Beaverkill where he frequently secluded himself while designing one of his lucrative commissions. Roscoe, located near the junction of the world famous Beaverkill and Willowemoc rivers, was already known for its fine trout fishing and so it was most fitting that the station should have the unique trout weathervane. This was presented to the railroad by J. S. Underhill , for installation on the canopy of Roscoe station in April 1896. After abandonment of the railroad in March 1957, many local people felt that the weathervane belonged to Roscoe and should remain here.
For people living within view of the trout weathervane it served as a weatherman. The weathervane was easily viewed along Stewart Avenue and as a soda jerk at my father's pharmacy I often witnessed customers asking for a weather report. If not too busy , Dad would take the person by the arm and lead him down the street to view the weathervane. He would explain if it pointed toward the city or SE, rain or snow could be expected; away from the city or NW meant clear or clearing weather. Thus the importance of this weather instrument was well established with the older Roscoe People.
Shortly after the demise off the O&W the weathervane mysteriously disappeared from the station canopy. Later it was learned that Carl Campbell and Ray Pomeroy had a discussion about what to do to save the weathervane. Carl finally told Ray that he would reward anyone who would climb up and remove it. Sometime later Ray Pomeroy, owner of the Roscoe House, was serving two college boys at the bar and he told them of the offer. They took him up on it and after dark,with the help of Ray's ladder, they removed it. Ray gave it to Carl Campbell who actually hid it in the woods on his Methyl farm. Later it was moved to a safer place and after the new highway was completed the Roscoe-Rockland Garden club was given a small area for a park, with plans for a flagpole, and the weathervane soon re-appeared and was placed on top of the flag pole.
Prior to removal of the railroad by the wrecking crew, Bill Bailey foreman for the New York State Highway Department, moved the train order signal located near the Roscoe Station to his Riverside Drive property. After his death and sale of the property , the new owner felt that it should be preserved in Roscoe. In the fall of 1983 , John Kish , secretary for the O&W Society learned that the signal could be purchased for $100 . The Ontario & Western Railway Historical Society purchased the signal and planned to install it near its original site near Roscoe Station. In 1983, the O&W train order signal joined the weathervane and both are now listed on the historic marker. The dedication of the O&W train order signal took place next to the Roscoe-Rocklnad Garden Club's Palett Park on saturday, June 25th at 11 am. Members of the O&WRHS delegation were Dr. Raymand Wood, President, Charlie Breiner, John Chryn and Bill Scott. As Rockland Town Historian,
I welcomed over 80 guests to the ceremony and our Supervisor, Lee Seigel was presented with the signals bill of sale. A speech by Society President, Dr. Wood on the importance of the railway to the Roscoe area, was followed by the unveiling of the Roscoe Station Historic Marker. As we left the ceremony I turned to Ray and said, "the signal now needs something like a "caboose" and thus was planted the seed for the O&W Museum in Roscoe. A reception at the Roscoe Free Library included an O&W slide show to complete a memorable event.
In the fall of 1995, gale force winds broke the bearing shaft and it was necessary to remove the weathervane for repairs. After careful examination we were advised to retire it to the museum for display and have a new copper weathervane made to mount on the flagpole. Paul Ryder who is a very talented metal craftsman has shaped the new trout weathervane. He also crafted the special O&W weathervane mounted on the roof of the Station building and has mounted a locomotive bell which is on display in the museum. Some small items also on display are an anvil made out of O&W rail and a golden spike.
Roscoe Museum Page