John J. Burger, who put together this collection of New York State railroad material, worked for many years as chief pharmacist at St. Luke’s Memorial Hospital Center, Utica, N.Y. His personal obsession in life was digging out the stories behind New York State’s railroads and documenting their histories. Burger’s intrigue with railroads was first established at his grandfather’s cottage at Canadarago Lake, Otsego County, N.Y., where, as a six-year-old boy, he used to sit by the tracks waiting for the daily freight to go by on the Southern New York Electric Railway. One day in 1941, when a wrecking crew came by tearing up the Oneonta-Mohawk line, he knew that the time he spent watching the freight cars was over. In high school, he began hunting through the library for background information on the railway. This search became a lifelong endeavor as he gathered newspaper articles, postcards, photographs, letters, and other primary sources, not only on the Southern New York Electric Railway, but on other New York State railroads. He compiled this exhaustive collection, including the many scrapbooks of photographs, for over 21 years. In 2012, after retiring, Burger donated the collection to the New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Scope of Collection
Included in this digital gallery is a selection of photo albums compiled by Burger, as well as his unpublished manuscript "The Leatherstocking Trolley".