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Marking a piece of Oneida history

Almost four years in the making, the New York Central Railroad Station marker was dedicated today with a ribbon cutting and a "thank you" was given to contributing parties. Remembering her fond memories of the once active railway was Helen Helt of Oneida.

In 2005 Helt decided to begin researching the long lost railway to see how she could restore a part of Oneida's history. The railroad path crossed through Oneida as it stretched from Buffalo to New York City, providing travel for residents across the state, but also several presidents who made campaign stops in Oneida.

{Q}"A lot of people have happy memories here," Helt said.{Q}

Helt said she asked the Oneida Housing Authority Board if she could proceed with her plan to find out more about the railroad's origin and by what means she could make the history known to fellow community members. She said she remembered her family members using the railroad to visit one another.

On more than one occasion, Helt said she had to "leap from the train car," because in those days the train never came to a complete stop.

The New York Central Railroad Station hosted its first day of service Jan. 18, 1903 and ran until October 1962. The railroad marker was then demolished in 1973.

After approval to place the marker at 226 Farrier Ave. where the Oneida Tower is located, planning began as well as the artistic side of painting a historical picture. Local artists Edward McGraw donated two drawings of the railroad that are now permanently placed on plaques at the dedicated site. Hurry Photo framed the original drawings and they are now hung outside Oneida housing Executive Director Bob Walter's office.

In honor of the established historical marker, Sen. Dave Valesky attended to help cut the ribbon and share in what he called "an opportunity to redefine and recreate the area, especially during an economic downturn."

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