MORRISTOWN – Wayne A. Latham combined his love of history and trains to build a museum outside his home.
Located at 9264 State Highway 58, the newly constructed Morristown Depot and Caboose Museum is modeled after the original train depot, which once stood across from 209 Main Street.
Mr. Latham said he was inspired to build the depot when he noticed that the train tracks from the Black River Morristown Railroad, which ran 41.9 miles from Rivergate to Morristown, once stood across the street.
We need to preserve our history, Mr. Latham said on Monday. Its the perfect place, right across from where the train would have gone by.
The Black River Railroad stopped in Theresa, Redwood, Hammond and Brier Hill before it reached Morristown. Its final destination was Ogdensburg Depot, 10.8 miles west from the Morristown Depot.
Mr. Latham said with modern technology and vehicles, railroads became obsolete. The last train went by the Morristown Depot in 1961. In 1964, the depot was torn down, 88 years after its original construction in 1876.
Pieces of the old depot still remain. Mr. Latham used many of the old depots original floorboards and wall panels in his recreation. The 40-foot long model is half the length of the original depot, but still maintains its interior structure, according to Mr. Latham.
The depot is modeled to accommodate all kinds of industry: lumber, cattle trains, milk and butter, said Mr. Latham. Its designed the way that it had existed. For many years they shipped cattle to NYC and wooden barrels of sturgeon to New York City. The railroad helped small communities of the north country grow.
The museum features a ticket office and a myriad of displays including model trains, maps, railroad crossing signs, photos and New York Central memorabilia. Mr. Latham said he spent several years collecting the relics.
There are also displays for children to see and touch and railroad calendar art designed by artist Charles Chaplin.
Outside the museum, original brick from the Ogdensburg Train Depot surrounds a caboose. Mr. Latham purchased the 100 year-old caboose on the Canton-Potsdam Road, where it traveled from Michigan.
Tourists can climb aboard and tour the caboose. Built in 1912, the caboose features an old coal stove, New York Central dishware and operators lookout cabin.
Construction on the museum began in the fall of 2011 and will be completed Thursday. The museums debut openings are from 12 to 5 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Cost of admittance is free. Donations collected will be given to the Gateway Museum, 309 Main St.
Mr. Latham said the Gateway Museum, 309 Main St., will feature a lecture about the depot and railroad on Thursday at 7 p.m.
The lecture about the history of the railroad and the Freedom Train, an exhibit train which toured the United States in 1940s and 70s.
For more information about the Morristown Depot and Caboose Museum, contact 375-4063.