In 1963, just six years after the O&W’s demise, the ONTARIO & WESTERN CHAPTER of the National Railway Historical Society was chartered, and another six years later the O&W TECHNICAL & HISTORICAL SOCIETY was founded. Their common interest brought them together in 1979 as the ONTARIO & WESTERN RAILWAY HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc., a tax exempt non-profit 501(c)(3) organization devoted to preserving the history of the New York, Ontario & Western Railway.
O&W Society activities appeal to the modern Railfan as well as the serious O&W historian
Monthly Meetings – Each month , except in July, August (Summer) and November (Convention). We meet in Middletown, New York at the Middletown Senior Center, 62-70 West Main Street. A brief business session is followed by an evening of general rail entertainment such as movies or slides.
Annual Convention – Our convention each November features various presentations, displays of O&W models and artifacts, raffles, door prizes, and a much more.
Historical Trips – We run bus excursions to see and photograph the remaining vestiges of the “Old Woman” and other forsaken railroads. Each trip covers a portion of the railroad using a detailed guidebook and is narrated by a knowledgeable Society member.
The Ontario & Western Railway Historical Society is perpetuating the O&W’s memory in many ways
Members give slide shows, PowerPoint presentations and lectures about the O&W at various locations.
We have erected historical markers at significant locations along the line.
We have restored an O&W 1926 Fairmont track car for the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
In 1982 we commemorated the 25th anniversary of the road’s demise with a year-long program of historical and social events.
In 1984 we established an O&W museum in a restored caboose at Roscoe, NY, which has grown to be the Roscoe O&W Railway Museum.
In 1988 we observed our Society’s 25th anniversary by bringing a genuine O&W locomotive to Middletown for photos in front of the O&W station.
In 2002, we had our first “Railroad Day” in Paterson NJ, at the former Rodgers Locomotive Works Erecting Shop, which is now home to the Paterson Museum. Since then we have held these events in Mamakating, Mountaindale, and now, each year at Middletown, NY.
In 2013 we set up an innovative and popular eight-day special exhibit, “Railroads of Middletown” to celebrate both our 50th anniversary, and the 125th anniversary of Middletown’s becoming a city.
We have published many highly regarded books including The O&W’s Scranton Division, The Wood Chemical industry in the Delaware Valley, and Railroading in the Stockbridge Valley, to name of a few.
Our accomplishments have earned us much favorable publicity,
including a front-page article in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.
Perhaps our greatest accomplishment is our Archives Storage and Research Facility, which we established in 1990 in Middletown to house our extensive collection of O&W memorabilia. Much of this material was formerly held by Cornell University and includes original O&W corporate records dating back to the 1860’s. Many other historical documents have been donated by generous individuals. Thousands of drawings, maps, diagrams, photos and documents are being catalogued and made available for research, plus many have been digitized as part of a major ongoing digitization project.
The Society is best known for the OBSERVER, named for the Ontario & Western’s company magazine. This annual book publication presents O&W stories, photos, plans and equipment diagrams. Recent issues have featured the O&W’s marine fleet, the unique “Flying Diesel Corps,” O&W center-cab steam locomotives, passenger trains and lineside structures, and a study of all the railroads in Middletown. The OBSERVER is known as one of the finest publications in the railroad historical community. In addition, we publish an annual illustrated O&W wall calendar, plus a newsletter, the Ontario Express, to keep members up to date on Society activities.
Join the O&WRHS ! See our membership page under “How to Help” for details.
Ontario & Western Railway Historical Society, Inc. The O&WRHS is a 501 (c)3 Non – Profit Historical Group.
Chartered on July 28, 1978 by the Board of Regents, State of New York, on behalf of the State Education Department.