A Brief History of the Danbury Railway Museum

Page Four

A railway museum would not be complete without a locomotive, and therein lies quite a tale. On December 27, 1995, the museum paid $35,000 to the Green Mountain Railway of Vermont for the Alco model RS-1 we see here. The locomotive left Bellows Falls, Vermont, on January 8, 1996, for what should have been a four day trip in local freights of the New England Central and the Providence and Worcester Railroads. About this time mother nature finished dumping two feet of snow on southern Connecticut. Because the diesel engine had to be left running in the cold weather, the railroads required the museum to provide a rider on the engine at all times. The engine reached New Haven, shown in this picture, on time. However, before Metro-North would allow the locomotive on its tracks, it wanted to do a safety inspection. Recall that this was the storm that disrupted Metro-North service for several days. They were too busy to do the inspection.

So our locomotive sat in New Haven for a week with a series of volunteers taking turns baby-sitting it 24 hours a day.

Metro-North finally got around to doing the inspection, and on January 19th, 11 days after leaving Bellows Falls, our locomotive finally arrived.

Alcos are famous for the amount of smoke they produce. Railfans consider them honorary steam engines as a result.

The first weekend, the Danbury Fire Department was called to the yard three times by concerned neighbors.

The other thing a railway museum must have is a caboose. We were lucky enough to find a genuine New Haven caboose at the Berkshire Scenic Railway in Lenox, Massachusetts, and bought it for $4,000. Here it is being delivered on the rear of a Housatonic Railroad freight in March of 1996.

And here it is what it looks like today, restored to the livery it wore when delivered to the New Haven railroad in May, 1944.

Cranes were important pieces of railroad work equipment. These two Burro cranes sat unused for years under the I-95 overpass in South Norwalk. Built for the New York Central in 1946, they were donated to us in October, 1995. We are in the process of restoring one of them to working condition.

In the spring of 1996, Conrail donated a boxcar that was desperately needed for tool storage.

We have raised some money by renting space in our yard. These three cars are being converted to a rail-theme restaurant, to be located nearby.

Finally, all this came together and we were ready to invite the public. The weekend of April 20-21, 1996, was to be our grand opening. Area railroads cooperated by displaying their equipment in our yard along with our own.

There were kiddie train rides in the yard.

Rare mileage excursions attracted railfans from all over the northeast. Here our train approaches Hopewell Junction, New York, on the Maybrook line, which hasn't seen scheduled passenger service in almost 70 years.

The Saturday night photo session was another weekend highlight.

Recreating scenes from days gone by was part of the fun. Here a conductor helps a passenger off the train at her station, while another passenger can be seen through the window waiting patiently for the train to move on. In the background, a caboose on a night freight displays its marker lights.

That's just fantasy. But in reality over 5,000 people visited the Danbury Railway Museum that weekend.

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