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Jeffrey Ricard, Editor  Volume 6, Number 7, July 1998 

Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum to Receive State Funding

                                By Jeff Ricard 

On June 26th, the state Bonding Commission took up the matter of approving $400,000.00 for the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum, thanks to the efforts of Senator Donald Williams and our own grant writing committee.  Work began almost two years ago when Senator Williams first came to the museum site, took a tour and began to see the vision that we had for creating the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum. 

The grant writing committee consisting of Jeff Ricard, Joe Cerreto, Art Hall and Bill Robinson, worked many late nights gathering data and 
writing proposals and letters as the Senator made requests for information, sometimes on very short notice.  But as it has been said of Senator Williams, once he grabs on to an idea and firmly believes in the cause, he never lets go!  And that's just what he did for us. 

President Joe Cerreto made an announcement on July 3rd, at the museum to publicly thank Senator Williams for all his tireless efforts in obtaining this funding. Joe said in his presentation, "It was once mentioned to me, that in order to get this museum off the ground, we would have to find a millionaire or a politician that was interested in railroads.  Well, we were lucky to find Don." 

Also on hand was the NRHS regional Vice President William Wood, who thanked Don for his efforts and thanked all members for their 
participation.  William mentioned that some chapters choose to preserve a railroad artifact or two, some chapters choose to restore a piece of 
rolling stock, but the Connecticut Eastern Chapter choose to do both and create a museum for all to enjoy.  William went on to say that the 
National Railway Historical Society was proud of our accomplishments and that he was personally proud of us for what we have attained in such a short period of time. 

Senator Williams mentioned that this group has acquired property, railroad buildings, rolling stock, locomotives and track, with more on 
the way.  All with volunteer labor and next to nothing for funding, imagine what could be done with the proper resources.  Now with the 
major funding in place the museum will begin the process of developing a major attraction in Windham.  This includes resources for reconstruction of the 1892 brick roundhouse,  turntable installation in restored brownstone turntable pit, construction of a restoration building, utilities and security system and site improvements.

Museum to Receive Grant Funding

The grant writing committee has also been working around the clock for other sources of funding too, and has come out on top once again with $750.00 from the Eastern Connecticut Community Foundation.  This grant is to be used towards restoration of the Groton Freight House and to establish displays in the building.   
 

WELCOME NEW MEMBERS

Please welcome the following new members to our chapter: Charlotte and George Patros.  They were voted in at the June meeting.  Glad to have 
you aboard! 
 

Calling all members!

 Volunteers are desperately needed on Saturday mornings at the museum site.  There is much to be done and we need all the hands we can get.  
Currently we have people working on the freight house installing the roof sheathing, some members are working on the railbus, track work is progressing but this is very labor intensive and bodies are needed.  Also we have received all the necessary permits to add fill to the rear of the site where the museum will actually be located.  This means that several trees will need to be removed, requiring people with chainsaws and brush cutters.  All these projects are on going but we need your help!  Please consider stopping down at the site on Saturday morning, even just for a short time and lend a hand.  Place a call to any officer if you need additional information. 

LOST KEYS !

A set of keys was lost at the museum site near the Section House or near the 8600 coaches, if found please call Dick Sobielo - Thanks!! 
 

Help Wanted !

The chapter is looking for a person that would be willing to help get the word out about our museum to the Connecticut  tourist publications, if interested, please contact one of the officers. 
 
 
 

DANBURY BY EXAMPLE

By Robert A. LaMay 

I was invited to attend the Danbury Railway Museum's Open House and Trains Show held on May 16 and 17, 1998. I arrived just before the 
museum was to have opened for the public. I spent the entire day there and was able to observe their operation pretty close. The example Danbury has set we can apply to the CERM (Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum). 

The DRM has taken over the entire yard from Conrail when they left town. The yard has since been fenced in, with gates at strategic locations. 
The old New Haven railroad station was used by Metro-North up until a few years ago. It was closed for a while and was finally restored and 
now houses the many displays of the DRM. 

A special train arrived from New York City, which brought 500 plus patrons to the museum. The special train made a trip to Brewster, NY and back. Patrons had the option of visiting the museum or the stores in downtown Danbury. A similar event could take place here. A train could 
bring patrons to Willimantic to visit our museum and other sites in town. A short trip to Eagleville could be made or even further to Stafford Springs. 

During the open house there were train rides which took patrons from the west end of the yard to the east end. Not too long of a ride. However, at the eastern end the old New Haven turntable was reinstalled. When the train reached the east end, patrons could leave the train and take a 
spin on the turntable. They would than board the train for the return  trip. This whole thing lasted about 45 minutes. 

Twice during the day the DRM operated a "Photo Special". During one of the morning trips the locomotive would uncouple it s cars near the 
turntable. Then it would proceed back into the yard and couple up to a 4 car freight train. The train would move back and fourth making switching moves until it was on the desired track. After backing a final time it would than accelerate with lots of "Alco" smoke and airhorns blaring, 
pass a viewing crowd. The Alco was than uncoupled from its freight train and put on the turntable for a spin. Once completed  the Alco would take the freight train back into the yard. Than it would come back couple up to the passenger train and take all the happy patrons back to the station. The afternoon would follow the same program except  that the afternoon would be a mixed train. A passenger car was added to the freight consist. 

As I watched all the activities I kept thinking, we at the Connecticut Eastern could also run a similar operation. Even before the turntable was in place, trains could be running. The turntable would add the impetus needed to complete the whole trip program. I realize there are a lot of "IF" items to be completed before trains run for the public. I questioned various individuals about suggested charges. 

Special events such as open house -  Suggested donation:  $3.00 admission (Included train ride),  $2.00 ride in caboose,   $5.00 ride in cab of a 
locomotive. 

On non-special events: 
$1.00 admission to museum. Trains operate first weekend of each month. 

While the settings are quite different - the purpose is the same. Bring visitors to our museum and give them a serious reason why they should 
return and tell others to do the same. 



On the light side ....... 

>From the NRHS news, acutal excerpts from classified sections of city newspapers. 

Girl wanted to assist magician in cutting-off-head illusion.  Blue Cross and Salary. 

Dinner special - Turkey $2.35; Chicken of Beef $2.25; Children $2.00 

For Sale: antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers. 

Now is your chance to have your ears pierced and get an extra pair to take home, too. 



The next Scheduled meeting of the Connecticut Eastern Chapter, National Railway Historical Societywill be at the Willimantic Fire/Police complexon Sunday September 20th at 7:00 pm. 

Please note: The monthly business meeting will be held at thesame location on the first Sunday of the month.  All members are welcome to attend. 
 
 
 
 

Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum & 
Connecticut Eastern Chapter 
National Railway Historical Society, Inc. 
P.O. Box 665 
Willimantic, CT  06226 
 
 


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Copyright ©1997 Connecticut Eastern Chapter, National Railway Historical Society July 6, 1998.