Ancestors of Copake Iron Works Founder Build the Only Operating Railroad in New York State Parks
Friends of Taconic State Park and Volunteers Support Family-Friendly Attraction
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) is calling “all aboard” at Taconic State Park, welcoming the first and only full-scale railroad in our parks. Supported by Friends of Taconic State Park (FTSP) and Pomeroy Family Railroad, this attraction will showcase the historic Copake Iron Works in Taconic State Park.
“We are excited to add this new track at Taconic to our miles and miles of trails in the New York State Park system,” OPRHP Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said. “This train is a throwback to the railroad used in the 1800s during the Industrial Revolution. We thank the William G. Pomeroy Foundation and the Friends of Taconic State Park for choo-choo-choosing to roll this project through to completion.”
Built and run entirely by volunteers, the Pomeroy Family Railroad at Taconic State Park will run on a 950-foot loop. The engine will pull two retrofitted ore carts carrying children and adults of all ages. The train replicates the narrow-gauge railroad that transported iron ore from the nearby mine to the blast furnace at the Copake Iron Works during the 19th century.
The railroad is expected to attract many visitors and educate them about the area’s rich industrial heritage. Located on Route 344 in Copake Falls, Taconic State Park has more than 7,000 acres. The Harlem Valley Rail Trail passes through the park, which also has campgrounds and cabins. In 2016, Copake Iron Works was designated a National Heritage Area.
New York State Assemblymember Didi Barrett said, “Beautiful Taconic State Park is a gem of my Assembly District and a tremendous asset to the region. The opening of the Pomeroy Family Railroad is an exciting new addition to this storied part of the park. This historic railroad, which will include a replica of the train that navigated the Copake Iron Works more than 100 years ago, serves as a reminder of our region’s industrial roots, and is a fitting tribute to the legacy of Lemuel Pomeroy and his family. I want to congratulate Friends of Taconic State Park and the William G. Pomeroy Foundation on this long-anticipated launch and thank NYSOPRHP for their support of this innovative initiative.”
New York State Senator Michele Hinchey said Senator Michelle Hinchey said, “The Pomeroy Family Railroad at Copake Iron Works in Taconic State Park shows what can be achieved when a group of community-minded volunteers comes together to create a unique all-ages recreational attraction that both honors and educates on our region’s important industrial heritage. I thank the William G. Pomeroy Foundation and Friends of Taconic State Park for their incredible work in stewarding this visionary project and making the visitor experience at Taconic State Park truly unforgettable with increased economic benefits for our small towns and Main Streets.”
Copake Town Supervisor Jeanne Mettler said, "Copake has not seen a train pass through since 1972, so we are very excited to see the arrival of the Pomeroy Family Railroad in Copake Falls. This has been a labor of love on the part of Edgar Masters, and we applaud him for his efforts. We know that the railroad will be a great tourist attraction for the town, and residents and visitors alike will delight in this newest addition to the Copake Iron Works.”
President of the Friends of Taconic State Park Board of Directors Jim Macklin said, “I am grateful to Commissioner Kulleseid for his support of this project which will do so much to raise awareness of New York’s important industrial heritage. I also note with gratitude the invaluable volunteer hours and dollars contributed to this project by hundreds of supporters. Volunteers built this railroad, and the expense was borne entirely by private donors so we can reach this important day.”
William G. Pomeroy, Founder and Trustee of the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, said, “Providing funding for the Pomeroy Family Railroad is an extension of my lifelong interest in trains. I’ve played with them since I was a boy, so it is truly special for me to be involved in this project. My ancestor, Lemuel Pomeroy, founded the Iron Works in 1845 and trains were critical to its success. I can’t wait for visitors to ride the railroad and take a step back in time with my family.”
Chair of the Taconic Region Commission Edgar Masters said, “Friends groups play an extremely important role in promoting and supporting New York State parks and historic sites in the Taconic Region. The Copake Iron Works Railroad Project, imagined, planned and carried out by Friends of Taconic State Park, exemplifies the importance of such partnerships.”
Chris Rickard, Manager, Taconic State Park, said, “Taconic State Park is one of many jewels in the crown of New York State parks and historic sites. The Pomeroy Family Railroad at the Copake Iron Works makes our already special place unique among those jewels. It will do much to enhance the visitor experience in Taconic State Park.”
The Pomeroy Family Railroad is the only full-scale railroad operating in all of New York State’s 180 parks. FTSP built this entirely with private funding to enhance the historic Copake Iron Works and its Visitor Center, Museum and Blast Furnace. The completion of the project was made possible by a significant contribution from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. The railroad was built by volunteers including Logan Carroll, Edgar Masters and Jim Conklin, all Copake residents.
Pomeroy family ancestor Lemuel Pomeroy founded the Copake Iron Works in 1845. Lemuel and family members are buried in the nearby cemetery of the Church of St. John in the Wilderness in Copake Falls. In addition to the railroad, several individual components, including the engine and passenger cars, are named for family members. Interpretative signage recently installed at the site will inform visitors of the important Pomeroy family history.
FTSP came up with the idea as a priority project in 2010. After years of planning and permits, construction began in September 2021. The train will be open to the public on weekends and holiday Mondays from mid-June until late October.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by more than 79 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit www.parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518.474.0456. Also, connect on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Friends of Taconic State Park was established in 2008 to support cultural, recreational and educational activities within the park with the preservation of the Copake Iron Works National Heritage Area Site its priority. The group has implemented a 20-year plan to create a pre-eminent site of historic iron-making and a national destination for tourists in Copake Falls. The Copake Iron Works Visitor Center features a video documentary chronicling the history of the site and an extensively interpreted trail from the Copake Iron Works to the Bash Bish Falls, for which trail maps are available. To learn more about Friends of Taconic State Park, visit www.FriendsofTSP.org or email email@example.com.