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Night Shoot at the Sterling Museum

Bruce Mowbray poses with Bob Frey on the museum’s New York Central caboose 19216. The tower was originally located at Sterling, N.Y., at the crossing of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Auburn Branch and the “Hojak” division of the New York Central.

Night Shoot at the Sterling Museum

December 2023by Adam Kuczynski/photos by the author

Bob Frey and Patricia Shortslef of the Sterling Historical Society of Sterling, N.Y., contacted this author to conduct a night photography session featuring their magnificent railroad restorations. The museum is located in Cayuga County near Lake Ontario, northwest of Syracuse. It is where the Lehigh Valley Railroad’s Auburn Branch crossed the New York Central Ontario (“Hojack”) Branch. I had the privilege of photographing two very important pieces of history, the fully restored wooden NYC tower, the last of its kind, and wooden New York Central Caboose 19216, which was built in March 1917. The caboose was owned by Joe and Loretta Ukleya, who donated it to the museum in loving memory of their daughter, Marcia.

The caboose had suffered an internal fire that took the carbody down to its frame. Leigh Shortslef and many volunteers began rebuilding the caboose a few years ago, and it was completed recently. The restoration is top-to-bottom as-delivered, and it was an honor to photograph.

New York Central Caboose

ABOVE: Bob Frey, Bill Dexter and Leigh Shortslef pose on the platform of NYC 19216. 

The wooden tower which stood for many decades in the area of Sterling, is fully restored as well, and is outfitted with two “armstrong” switch levers and many exhibits describing the history of the tower. It guarded the Lehigh Valley’s Auburn Branch that extended north as far as the Fair Haven Coal Docks, a few miles to the north on Lake Ontario…

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This article was posted on: November 17, 2023