June 2009 President’s Report

By Ira Pollack


            In this month’s newsletter I’ll tell you much is going on both in the yard and in the building.

            News from our railyard is that the radiator shutter assembly has been finished and installed on the SW8 and the locomotive is back in service. Work is continuing on the pump house back in the eastern part of the yard. John Ivansco and crew have been busily restoring the doors and windows of the structure. Eventually this will be incorporated into our Railyard Local tour. Work is also moving along on the NYC wooden caboose. Gerry and his crew are getting ready to install the cupola and new roof. There has been much work behind the scenes this year within the carpenter shop fabricating the new cupola basically from scratch. Our woodworking crew has rebuilt these parts using the originals as patterns. Very impressive!

            Maintenance work also continues with the trackage. With the expertise of Bob Andrews, we have gotten the compressor running, and I have begun tamping the many rail joints to bring them back up to grade. The Ford backhoe experienced major mechanical failure this past month, but now we have expended monies to repair this vital piece of equipment by sending it out to a professional mechanic. Much of our yard work cannot happen without this machine.

            In the building, Wade Roese and the Tuesday night crew have been making great progress with the model layouts, adding something new every week. Wade has figured out a way to bend Plexiglas into a curve, and has displayed some of our models in the area above the 0-gauge layout. This display has also turned into quite an attraction for the Museum.

            As we experience our 15 year anniversary, I will talk about some our early history. Last month I left you with the early days of occupying the station. I had mentioned the “Muffin Lady”. Originally the Museum was to share the station with a muffin and coffee shop. Where was this going to go? What would the ovens for the muffins do to our archives? How would this additional business conflict with staffing our Museum? Many questions were raised as to the validity of this idea of a muffin shop within our confines. Fortunately, it never materialized. The original idea was to use what is now our gift shop space for the muffin shop, and in fact the Gift Shop room wasn’t written into our lease of the building. I had to petition the city to revamp our lease agreement several years ago to amend this room into our contract.

            The Museum was now in its new building, and work had been done reconfiguring the yard for our use as a Museum. A runaround track was built, and new fencing was installed by the state and city. The next obvious step was to begin acquiring equipment to occupy the yard. Through a leasing agreement involving the state DOT, the Housatonic Railroad, and the Museum, we received five passenger cars and a New Haven gondola. Part of the stipulation of receiving these cars was to immediately repaint them. I approached the Board of Directors at the time with a plan to paint the cars green with gold Danbury Railway Museum lettering above the windows. I believed at the time that as we rolled along Interstate Route 84, it would be good advertising and publicity for the Museum. I also thought that running rights on Track 2 were mere weeks away. Boy was I wrong! We ended up painting the cars, and contracting with a sign company using vinyl letters for both the DRM and Reading lettering for the cars – an amicable compromise!

            Many things were going on in these early days of the Museum. We also were in the process of purchasing our first locomotive – the RS1. The engine purchased from the Green Mountain Railroad was on its way south and getting closer to Danbury day by day. We sent volunteers to babysit the locomotive as it headed south through some less that desirable areas. Some of our members actually slept in the cab those several evenings of transit.

            There was a strong spirit and a momentum with many different things going on at the same time. We suddenly had this before us, and things happened very quickly. We were of the mind to collect everything that we could just to fill this vast empty railyard that was part of the Museum. Some of these were gems, some certainly were not. We did make mistakes in our infancy. Some of these pieces should never have come to the Museum but it was part of our learning curve.

            In the next issue I will talk about some of these ventures, or should I say follies. This was our history, good or bad. This is what happened; this is how we grew.

            See you next month.