The Alco Museum is coming back — not to its old home on Maxon Road Extension in Schenectady but to the Walter Elwood Museum of the Mohawk Valley in Amsterdam.
Officials from the Alco Historical and Technical Society, which operated the museum in Schenectady throughout the summer of 2012, announced Friday that their group and the Elwood Museum have signed a memorandum of understanding that will allow the Alco Museum to set up shop in an exhibit room of the Elwood Museum at 100 Church St. in Amsterdam.
“I’m ecstatic at the possibilities this means for us,” said Matt Giardano, president of the Alco Historical and Technical Society. “It’s great to be partnering with a good, established museum like the Elwood, and they have been wonderful and very accommodating to us. We’re very much looking forward to this.”
Alco stands for the American Locomotive Company, and it is the mission of the Alco Historical and Technical Society to preserve and share the history of Alco, including its forerunner, the Schenectady Locomotive Works. A museum was opened in June 2012 on Maxon Road Extension in Schenectady, at the original site of the locomotive works. After a busy summer, the museum closed in October and failed to reopen in 2013 due to financial problems.
The Elwood Museum also recently moved after having its previous home, Guy Park Manor, damaged by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. Just two months ago, the Elwood reopened at its new site, and it is hosting an open house today from 1 to 4 p.m.
“We really feel that we complement each other’s mission,” said Elwood Museum Executive Director Ann Peconie. “The train ran right through here, and there were many people from Amsterdam who worked at Alco, so I think there’s a real connection between us.”
Admission to the Elwood Museum is $3 for adults. That admission fee will include the Alco exhibit room, which should be open in a couple of months.
“My tentative goal is late January or sometime in February,” said Giardino. “We’ll see how that goes, and our artifacts will basically be on loan to them. We will have information set up in our exhibit space telling people how they can donate money to our group.”
Along with the exhibit room, Alco is renting office and storage space from the Elwood Museum.
“I really think you’re going to see more of these kind of partnerships down the road,” said Peconie. “We’re not merging, we’re just working together to minimize costs and share expenses.”
According to Dave Gould, who serves as the volunteer curator and historian for the Alco group, most of the interpretive panels and exhibit cases on display at the Maxon Road Extension site will be relocated to the Elwood Museum.
“We’re going to be able to revamp just about everything except the large engine block, the cab and our parade vehicle,” said Gould. “We did get a grant for a new exhibit that we are currently working on, ‘From Collaboration to Competition: The Early Railroads of New York State and the Erie Canal,’ and we hope to have that ready sometime early next year.”
Gould also said the group now has the title to a steam locomotive built in Schenectady and currently located in New Hope, Pa.
“It originally belonged to the Great Northeast Railroad Foundation, but they have merged with us,” said Gould. “One of our big projects will be coming up with the money to restore the engine and move it up here. Right now, that’s a long-term goal, but hopefully we’ll eventually be in a position to do that.”