CHESTER — Alex Prizgintas of Central Valley is making strides throughout the area as an advocate for local history.
On July 12, 15-year-old Alex was a guest speaker for the Chester Historical Society at the former Erie Railroad station in Chester. He presented a 45-minute talk, complete with a powerpoint presentation, on the little-known Harriman Incline Railroad. This was built to carry building supplies up to the site of the E.H. Harriman mansion located in Central Valley. As one drives east on Route 17 toward the New York State Thruway, the slight cut in the woods outlining where this incline railroad once existed is still visible.
Coming upOn July 26, The Ontario and Western Railroad Society (OandWRHS) is hosting its yearly Middletown Railroad Day event in the Middletown Senior Center. Alex has been asked to loan items from his collection for that day to display some of the rich history of the Ontario and Western Railroad which once brought travelers and goods throughout the region. Alex will also be presenting his Harriman Incline Talk lecture at the show. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 570-807-3588
Last month, Alex met with Myron Gittell, who is producing a summer retrospective on one of Sullivan County’s most notable Borscht Belt hotels — The Concord. Alex has been collecting items from the Borscht Belt for some time and even administers a Facebook page dedicated to Borscht Belt memorabilia. He is well-versed with the hotels of Sullivan County and was eager to meet Gittell and loan one special panel on the Concord. "The Concord Remembered" show is running through the summer at the Sullivan County Museum, 265 Main St. in Hurleyville.
On Aug. 16, Alex will be displaying his collection of Orange County Milk Bottles at the 28th annual Mid-Hudson Valley Bottle Show at the Poughkeepsie Elks Lodge at 29 Overrocker Road. With more than 100 bottles in his personal collection, Alex is quite knowledgeable about Orange County’s deep connection to the dairy industry. The region was once highly regarded for its milk which was shipped by rail to New York City. The milk/rail connection was first established in Chester where the Chester Historical Society currently is housed in the restored Erie Railroad Station.
Alex will also be reprising his Harriman Incline presentation on Oct. 2 in Middletown for the OandWRHS Society at 7 p.m. in the Middletown Mulberry House Senior Center, located on 62-70 West Main St.