Salamanca Rail Museum cars vandalism leaves $9K in damages

Four train cars at the Salamanca Rail Museum were vandalized Jan. 19, resulting in about $9,000 in damage.

LITTLE VALLEY — Cattaraugus County lawmakers agreed to approve calling for a contract with the Salamanca Rail Museum for $10,000 for a video surveillance system to protect from future vandalism.

Salamanca Republican Laurie Hunt sponsored the resolution in light of recent vandalism at the Rail Museum.

Salamanca police reported Jan. 20 that a vandalization of four rail museum cars caused about $9,000 in damages. Police believe the damage happened sometime in the few days before reported.

Museum director Jaré Cardinal said she noticed something amiss when she went to check on the building and grounds Jan. 19. The museum is closed during the winter months except for private tour requests.

“It looked like one of the windows was missing on the red caboose, but it gets blown out once in a while by the wind,” she said at the time. “I went to check and it wasn’t just that window. Glass was everywhere.”

Cardinal said their mannequin dressed as a conductor in one of the cars was also missing, but there were gummy bears left behind. Three out of the four damaged railcars sit in an area surrounded by a barbed-wire fence.

“We did some research, and to replace everything that needs replacing, to clean up and because they’re exposed to the weather and there’s possible floor damage, it’s going to cost about $12,000,” Cardinal said.

While police investigated the vandalism, rail museum officials took steps to secure the cars and avoid further damage caused by winter weather. Cardinal said they managed to secure one caboose with covering over the windows thanks to Sixt Lumber and Al Robison Construction & Residential Electric donating supplies and labor to help.

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A fundraiser at the Salamanca American Legion on March 19 raised about $4,500 toward the rail car restorations. Officials said with this last push, the museum reached its goal and they will begin fixing the damage when the weather is better.

Another resolution was approved calling for donating $10,000 to Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation (C.A.M.P.) to help the group get the building on the National Register of Historic Places.

Legislators Don Benson, R-Allegany, and Andrew Burr, R-Gowanda, sponsored the resolution to help C.A.M.P., which purchased the former county museum and Board of Elections buildings on Court Street from the county several years ago.

The county’s grant will help C.A.M.P. prepare an application for funding from the New York State Historic Preservation Department to seek designation by the National Register of Historic Places.

Three legislators voted against the resolution: Marsh, Kip Morrow, R-Portville, and Joseph Snyder, R-Ischua.

After a public hearing at which no one spoke, legislators also approved a local law creating the Department of Assigned Counsel with a full-time director and secretary.

Another resolution created a position of social worker in the Public Defender’s Office.

Legislators also voted to oppose Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal to override local zoning laws to meet the state’s initiative to build 800,000 homes across the state over the next 10 years.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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