The Central New York Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society commemorates the past, present and future of our railroad heritage. The importance of the railroads to the growth and expansion of the United States is a compelling story. It was this interest in preserving what had passed and what lay ahead that in 1935 inspired a group of historians to form the National Railway Historical Society. What is now the Central New York Chapter traces its roots to 1940.
The Central New York Chapter, NRHS, is a historical and educational group dedicated to enhancing enjoyment, knowledge, and involvement with railroads in and around Central New York. The Chapter was incorporated in the State of New York on September 19, 1966, as a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. As such, contributions to the Chapter are tax deductible. Current Chapter membership is around 160. It is one of more than 170 chapters of the National Railway Historical Society. In addition to meetings, the Chapter is involved in equipment and locomotive restoration, museum restoration programs, photography sessions, seminars, railroading theme shows, model train displays, railfan excursions, and maintenance of a Chapter library and archives.
Railroads were first introduced in New York State with construction of the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad in 1826. This mechanized travel arrived less than 10 years after construction of the Erie Canal began in 1817. Railroads would forever change the face of travel in the 19th Century just as the automobile and NYS Thruway changed travel in the 20th Century. While the Erie Canal spearheaded westward development in the state and nation, it was the railroads that brought the biggest shift of people and goods westward in the years that followed. Other early New York State railroads, including the Syracuse and Auburn Railroad built in 1837, broadened the impact of rail transport on the region.
The collection provides pictorial information showing locomotives and rolling stock of railroads that once served New York State and adjacent states and provinces. Historians will find images of communities served by railroads through the years, giving context to how those communities and their structures changed over time, as well as images of locomotives and rolling stock.
Phillip Winchester was a division engineer for the New York Central Railroad based in Syracuse. His job required inspections and design work for the NYC throughout Central New York State. This often meant photographing new construction, repairs, rolling stock, locomotives, and derailments as documentation in his territory. These photographs provide a historic view of 1930s and 1940s railroading on the NYC that included a new station and grade elimination in Syracuse. Winchester's negatives were donated to the Central New York Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, which maintains the collection.
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