Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Restoration of the Lollipop Farm Train A Long Island Icon Running Again at the Gardiner Farm

This is the iconic Lollipop Farm Train that operated in the 1950s and 1960s in Syosset, Long Island.  It is now fully restored and operational on the Gardiner Farm, which is part of the Greenlawn-Centerport Historical Association.
 In June of 2012, SPLIA, the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, gave the train to GCHA.  It had been in storage for over ten years in their storage barn behind the Lloyd Manor House, in Lloyd Harbor.  The first blog picturing the removal of the train from SPLIA's barn to the Gardiner barn can be seen by clicking on the above line.
 We hand carried the train cars to a trailer out of the SPLIA barn.

 Then we delivered it to the Gardiner barn.
The train cars were stored and then individually restored.
This year, GCHA contracted with Formac Welding of Huntington Station to construct new tracks.  Volunteers created the track bed and laid the wooden railroad ties.  There are 447 feet of new and better tracks.
Six ducklings were born this Summer.  They follow their parents around  the farm all day.
Here Tony Guarnaschelli and Nick Zummo, work on the trucks.
 The gasoline engine, battery, and fuel tank.

 Restored train cars are unloaded from the trailer,
 so that they could be placed on the trucks and attached.

 Master Nick makes adjustments.
 Tony fills up the gasoline tank.
 Nick gets the first ride around the farm.
The train with one passenger car.
Nick was able to find two other passenger cars in Elmira, New York, and volunteers picked them up and freshened the paint.  Originally the Lollipop  Farm Train was painted pink.
 One of the trustees donated this authentic miniature wooden water tower.
Of course the ducklings, which are really getting big fast, looked on.

The train with one car to be attached.  We have the engine and four passenger cars.  The train will be running at the 34th annual GCHA Pickle Festival,  Saturday September 21, 2013.  The children of Long Island will again be delighted with the ride!

This is the history of the Lollipop Farm Train to the best of our knowledge.

Lollipop Farm, on the corner of Jackson Avenue and Jericho Turnpike, in Syosset closed in 1967 and the Lollipop Farm Train was put into storage.  Over the next 45 years it changed hands many times until the Greenlawn-Centerport Historical Association (GCHA) decided to take on the huge task of restoring in to it's former glory and acquired it from the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities (SPLIA).  Many members of the GCHA, some of which have vast experience in restoring old vehicles, have worked endlessly prepping, painting, welding, preparing and laying track to get the Lollipop Train ready for it's debut run on September 21st at the 34th Annual Pickle Festival.
According to Eva Sweeny Mancuso, Lollipop Farm, with it's petting zoo and train,  was one of Syosset's main attractions for many years. It was developed by her parents, Harry and Alice Sweeny and opened in June, 1950.   She went on to say "My dad was the Assistant General Director of the Bronx (Park) Zoo in the 40's and he designed their Children's Zoo. Mrs. Sweeny authored several children's books about the farm, which were illustrated by Kathleen Elgin.  A Greenlawn merchant, found two of these books and donated them to the GCHA recently.  Lollipop Farm closed in 1967, after finding homes for all of the animals. Mr. and Mrs. Sweeny retired to Pennsylvania where he devoted much time to landscape painting.
When Lollipop Farm closed the train transferred into private hands. After many years it was donated it to East Woods School in Oyster Bay Cove, where it was sold at a school fundraiser.  During that time, the train began to show it's age and one of the train cars was rusted beyond repair.  It was again sold in 1994 to the Warren Kraft family who donated it to SPLIA in 2003.
SPLIA's original intention was to display the train cars at one of their exhibits.  The trains were stored for almost 10 years in one of SPLIA's barns in Lloyd Harbor until one of our members, Tony Guarnaschelli, asked Warren Kraft what happened to it.  After several meetings, SPLIA agreed to pass ownership over the the GCHA so it could be restored.  Our members picked up the train cars, trucks, and tracks from the Lloyd Manor House and delivered them to the John Gardiner Barn in June 2012.   To see the move visit: http://wwwjarvishouse.blogspot.com/2012/06/lollipop-farm-kiddie-train-moved-to.html 
The Greenlawn Centerport Historic Association volunteers spent countless hours restoring this miniature railroad for children to enjoy. With our members whose expertise ranges from vintage car restorers, master mechanics, grunt workers, public relations and pure determination we have succeeded in having the train up and running on schedule.  New tracks were made through a generous discount from Formac Welding of Huntington Station.  Two additional matching trains were located in Elmira and purchased to bring the train back to it's original size.  Members donated a scaled wooden water tank and metal windmill to add to our landscaping around the train.  It is situated around our gardens and apple orchard and with proceeds from ticket sales we hope to complete landscaping reminiscent of by-gone days in keeping with what it would have looked like in the 1950's.  It will never be the Lollipop Farm, but we do have chickens, kittens and our resident ducks have recently become proud parents.  
The Greenlawn Centerport Historical Association is reaching out to the community, trying to collect old photographs, movies and memorabilia to display along with the train.  There are pictures of the train that shows it painted pink and other photographs that depict it to be the red and yellow that it is presently.  Dated photographs will help us determine how the train changed over the years.

  Come visit us at our Pickle Festival on Saturday, September 21, 2013 and enjoy a ride on the Lollipop Train along with everything else the Festival has to offer.  Besides the train,  the Historical Association's Annual Pickle Festival features a Corn Maze, Hayrides, Face Painting, homemade pickles, jams, farm-grown vegetables, baked goods, food and family activities.  The operating hours  are 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, with the rain date being Sunday, September 22nd.  Most activities are free.  The entrance fee is $5.00 for adults, children under 12 are free. The GCHA is a non-profit membership organization with a mission to research, collect, and record and preserve the history of the communities of Greenlawn and Centerport, Long Island, New York.  Join us all at the John Gardiner Farm, 900 Park Avenue, Huntington.