This HO diorama of the Oneida Castle station built by John Foote was inspired
by the author's research into the station's history. The diorama depicts the station
in its glory years around 1920.
Railroad stations that served two railroads where they cross were not uncommon. One that served two rail lines on two different levels was. That's what makes the Oneida Castle, N. Y., station, the subject of Harold Russell's drawings, something special.
Oneida Castle history
The city of Oneida Castle was named for the last great home or "castle" of the Oneida Indian tribe. About the only thing that resembled a castle in the town was the station erected by the New York, West Shore & Buffalo Ry. in the early 1880s when it built its railroad to compete with the developing New York Central & Hudson River's "Water Level Route."
Running in a general east-west direction, the West Shore line crossed over the New York, Ontario & Western Ry. Northern Division's main line just south of Oneida, N. Y. Shortly after the NYC&HR purchased the West Shore's line, effectively eliminating the competition, the line was downgraded to secondary status with only two daily passenger trains and local freight traffic.
Around the turn of the century, the NYC&HR management saw interurban railroads as a threat to its passenger business in upstate New York. To counter this threat it formed the New York State Rys. through acquisitions and consolidations. In 1907 the newly formed company began third-rail electric passenger and express service between Utica, Oneida, and Syracuse, N. Y., using a portion of the old West Shore double-track main line.
New passing tracks were laid in several places to permit the faster electric trains to overtake slower steam-powered freights still using the right-of-way. Electric cars switched from third rail to overhead wire for power while running within the limits of municipalities. The interurbans branched off and reentered the West Shore main at Oneida Castle after street running in the city of Oneida.
The crossing at Oneida Castle served as a connection to the NYO&W, primarily for the summer passengers patronizing Sylvan Beach, a resort community to the northwest on Oneida Lake. Traffic peaked at the station on July 4, 1917, when approximately 6,000 people made connections between the two railroads. After that, patronage declined in favor of the family auto, and the station was closed in 1931.
The station site is occupied today by a bottled gas dealer. The steel girder bridge for one track of the West Shore is still in place, now as part of the Conrail System, and Oneida Creek flows as swiftly as ever below next to the former NYO&W right-of-way.
Since the Oneida Castle station served two railroads on two levels it had some unusual features. These included a free-standing baggage elevator and an operator's office on the second floor of the ornate tower at the northern-most corner of the building.
The interior of the station was mostly a large waiting room with a restaurant in the southeast corner. A baggage room occupied the west end of the main structure.
Passenger comfort and safety were definitely major concerns so the station was surrounded by wooden sidewalks and plenty of handrails, a necessity during winter in central New York. A picket fence between the two West Shore tracks kept patrons from crossing over the tracks and accidentally stepping on the third rail. Even with this concern for safety patrons could easily stumble into the baggage elevator's opening on the upper level.
The station's construction was pretty much straightforward with a smattering of different architectural styles as was common during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Wood was used for everything on the station except the ornate brick chimneys.
Modeling Oneida Castle station
I wanted a model of the site in its entirety, not just the station but its attendant staircases, the elevator, and the portion of the deck girder bridge that spanned the NYO&W track below.
John Foote, a retired friend, collaborated with me and is responsible for the diorama's construction. The structure is built from Northeastern scale lumber on cardboard walls. Campbell roof shingles cover the roof. White Styrofoam "bead board" was used for the base.If you build your own station you can use styrene instead of wood and cardboard, but the wood shingles are still best left to traditional materials.
I've enjoyed digging up the information on the Oneida Castle station, and I also enjoy my HO scale diorama. Every time I look at it I'm reminded of the fun I had collecting the data. I guess you could say I enjoy the Oneida Castle station on at least two levels.
Note: Due to the large file sizes needed to print these drawings at exact scale, we can no longer provide this feature. If you would like copies at exact scale to use for modeling purposes only you can contact us and we will send them to you via e-mail only.
Side 1 Side 2 Side 3 Side 4
Side 5 Side 6 Side 7a Side 7b
Actual scale is 1:160 (N scale)
Drawn for MODEL RAILROADER Magazine by
HAROLD W. RUSSELL
Printouts of these drawings may be made as an aid to personal
or commercial modelmaking or tool designing, but
copies of the drawings may not be distributed to others
©1994 Model Railroader Magazine. Used by permission
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