By Rob Potter
LIBERTY February 6, 2001 - Scores of county Boy Scouts had the opportunity to visit a few of the stations of the famed O&W Railway this past Saturday.
Actually, the approximately 75 Scouts and adult leaders journeyed to six O&W stops and never left the boundaries of Walnut Mountain Park in Liberty.
But unlike passengers during the railroads heyday that might have been reunited with friends and family members at the station, the Scouts found challenges at each station they encountered. Pulling sleds packed with mess kits, blankets, food and other supplies, the Scouts tested their skills at each stop in the Nav-A-Len Districts annual Klondike Derby.
The theme is the O&W Railroad and the significance it had in the county, said Klondike Derby Chairman John Gain. The Scouts are learning about how the railroad brought tourists and supplies to the Catskills and how people depended on the railroad.
While the Scouts enhanced their knowledge of the O&W and even displayed train numbers on their sled engines, the main focus of the day was putting their scout skills and talents to the test. As it does each winter, the Klondike Derby challenged scouts with an all-day outdoor trek.
On Saturday, the seven troop patrols traversed the hills and meadows of Walnut Mountain Park and visited six O&W stations. At Fishs Eddy, they simulated an ice rescue, while at Highview they had to display their first aid skills, and at Luzon they had to build a fire. Other stations included Summitville (snow snake), Test Field Flats (compass) and Youngs Gap (lashing and knots).
Art Olson, soon to become the Scoutmaster of Troop 95 Liberty, was in charge of the Youngs Gap station. He explained that at that stop along the trail the patrols had to securely lash an empty barrel and two cardboard boxes to a wood pallet. The pallet represented the O&W train, while the barrel and boxes represented bags of cargo that needed to be tightly fastened for the trip down the tracks.
They need to use the different knots they have been taught to be able to do that, Olson said. The patrols have accomplished the task and worked well together. Teamwork and leadership are just as if not more important as lashing everything together.
Despite a stiff breeze in the cold, crisp air and several inches of snow beneath their feet, the Scouts and leaders seemed to be enjoying themselves.
When asked what event he liked best, Chris Krasinski of Troop 102 Glen Speys Flying Eagles patrol didnt hesitate to answer.
The lashing, the 16-year-old Star Scout replied. Because were using skills that were really good at.
Indeed, Troop 102 received an excellent score at Youngs Gap and was one of three patrols to earn a 1st Group standing at the end of the day. (1st Group patrols earned a Klondike Derby ribbon for Merit and Honor, while 2nd Group patrols received a ribbon extolling Merit and 3rd Group patrols were given an Award ribbon.) Joining Troop 102 in the 1st Group were patrols from Troop 106 Jeffersonville and Troop 96 Liberty.
Second Group members were Troop 105 Livingston Manor and Troop 101 Rock Hill. Third Group achievers included Troop 92 Wurtsboro and Troop 95 Liberty.
Troop 102 member Matthew Terpening said his favorite stop along the trail was the snow snake event at Summitville. Terpening, 12, added that he was enjoying his first Klondike Derby not only for the opportunity to pick up some new skills but for another reason as well.
I can finally get away from our new puppy, Terpening said of his familys latest addition. He woke me up at 2:30 this morning.