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Wooden Model of a the "Hudson" is Something All Railroad Buffs Will Want to See

old photo ALCO's Hudson Steam Locomotive


Charles Lester’s seven-foot wooden model of a steam locomotive called the Hudson is something all railroad buffs will want to see.

Made at his Niskayuna home between 1930-1934, Lester’s amazing piece of work will be on display Saturday from noon until 4 p.m. at the Schenectady County History Faire at Proctors. The actual Hudson was made by the American Locomotive Company in its Schenectady plant between 1923-1924.

While the Hudson roared through Schenectady streets for more than 20 years, the model has been a part of the ALCO Historical and Technical Society collection, housed in the Walter Elwood Museum in Amsterdam, for more than a decade. It had been in the ALCO Museum in Schenectady for a few years before heading west to Amsterdam. It was previously in the Niskayuna home of Charles Lester III, who inherited the model from his father, Charles Lester Jr.

It’s been fun researching the Lester model and the man who built it, but there’s one question I can’t answer. In 1938, at the 90th anniversary of the locomotive works being in Schenectady, a large celebration was held at the Van Curler Hotel. Part of the proceedings at the event was a model locomotive contest, and believe it or not, Charles Lester didn’t win!

So, who won and what did the first-place entry look like?

I can only answer the first half of that question. It was Schenectady’s Leslie Bowman who came away with the blue ribbon, creating some kind of object with his “model railroading kit” according to the Schenectady Gazette. We can’t say anything else about Bowman’s work, except that if it relegated Lester’s model to runner-up status it must have been really something.

Anyone out there who remembers Mr. Bowman please contact me at Or come on over on Saturday and say hello at the history faire.