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Arthur W Schnabel, Editor ~ Mark Granville, Asst. Editor     Volume 8, Number 12  December 2000
 Published Monthly by the CONNECTICUT EASTERN CHAPTER of the N.R.H.S., Inc

Fall Foliage Excursion

 The Fall excursion to Brattleboro, VT was enjoyed by 830 participants.  The Sunday trip was blessed with snow during the stop in Brattleboro.  We thank Chris Torkelson and the Transit Alliance who presented the museum with a check for $1,037, half of the net profits.  We also sold $800 of food and $400 of calendars and whistles.

Train Show

 The Fall train show was a success with attendance approximating that of last Fall’s show. Thanks again to Duke York and the Cider Press String Band for keeping the attendees entertained with authentic railroad music.  The door prize, a roundhouse paver brick donated by the Chapter, was won by Andrew Jordan.  Receipts were  $4280 and expenses were $3,062, giving us a net income of approximately $1200. The Spring show is planned for April 22.


 Approximately 35 members plus guests attended the annual banquet at Windham Hospital.  It was the general consensus of the members that the food, served buffet style, was excellent.  Unfortunately, the Hospital was apparently expecting a bunch of seniors who didn’t eat too much instead of a group of hungry “railroad” workers. They ran out of food!  After a short wait, more food was brought in for those left out.After dinner, we enjoyed seeing Jack Swanberg’s slides of the early New Haven railroad and selected other topics.  The evening concluded with Joe Cerreto’s annual review of museum activities.

What’s New at the Museum?

 The Operator’s Shanty has received a new roof and the walls have been rebuilt.

The rail bed towards the section house has been graded and ballast put down.  Ties and rails have been laid approximately 65 feet.

 Trenches have been dug for the electrical lines to the Section House and Chaplin Station. Conduits have been placed in most of the trenches. 

 About 1500 usable ties recently arrived at the museum from the State DOT.

A truckload of fill, donated by Windham Sand & Stone, was delivered to the West end of the site near the switch.  Unfortunately, their truck punctured a tire while going over a tree stump.

Equipment Update

 Art Hall recently received copies of equipment maintenance cards that provide new information about some of our equipment.

 Caboose 4029 – This caboose was built in December 1907 with a wood frame.  It was rebuilt with a steel frame in 1923.

 Outside braced wooden boxcar #43022 – This boxcar was built by the Pullman Standard Company.

Central Vermont RS-11 and Other Models

Via Bridge Line Historical Society Bulletin

 Atlas HO has released a new batch of RS-11 locomotives including one with the Central Vermont green with yellow wet noodle lettering.

 Life-Like will soon be introducing a B&M RDC-2 in HO scale.  While we have an RDC-1, the overall design is similar.

 Atlas is producing an EMD GP38 in HO scale with the blue and yellow-gold livery of the New England Central.





Committees for Coming Year

 It is now time to sign up for various committees for the year 2001.  You can sign up at the Section House, at the December 17 meeting, or by contacting any of the officers. For most committees, no special experience is needed.

 Committee chairmen will be appointed by the executive committee or selected by the committee members. Committee chairmen should be able to attend monthly business and membership meetings in order to keep the officers and members informed of the current status of the committee’s activities.  In some cases, technical abilities would be a distinct advantage.

 A brief description of the various committees is summarized below:

 Acquisitions – responsible for searching out new equipment, buildings, or items that would help portray the railroad story to visitors and arrange for transportation to the museum.

 Archives and Library – responsible for maintaining our historical records and library including making the library books available to the membership.

 Audit – responsible for reviewing the records of our Treasurer annually to verify their accuracy.

 Entertainment – responsible for obtaining programs for our monthly meetings.

 Fund Raising and Grant Writing – responsible for preparing grant applications and other programs designed to raise funds for the museum.

 Maintenance of Way – responsible for laying new track where needed and keeping existing track in good repair.

 Mechanical – responsible for designing programs to insure that all equipment is kept mechanically sound and operating properly.

 Membership Services – responsible for directing a program designed to obtain and welcome new members, assist members with questions or problems, and provide services for the good and welfare of the membership.

 Museum Operations and Activities – responsible for developing a program to welcome visitors to the museum, provide tour guides, and develop special programs and activities to attract visitors.

Museum Planning – responsible for planning the design and layout of the museum, including buildings, electrical systems, etc.

Versailles Operator’s Shanty

By Robert A. LaMay

 Approximately eighty years ago, a small six by seven foot wooden structure was located along the New York, New Haven, & Hartford Railroad in the Village of Versailles, a short distance from the Village of Baltic, located within the Town of Sprague, Connecticut.The actual location of the structure was a few hundred feet east of where the Versailles railroad station once stood.  It was also during this same period that railroads relied heavily on the telegraph as the main source of communications.  It was these nimble fingered telegraphers that formed the mainstay for this form of communication. The Versailles Operator’s Shanty’s primary function was the communications of messages via the telegraph operators.  Today one can still see some of the chestnut poles that once had telegraph wire strung on them.  They can be seen along the right-of-way between Versailles and Plainfield.The telephone continued to make in-roads into the field of the telegraph.  As such, the use of telegraphy continued its steady decline until the telephone took over as the railroads main source of communications.  As the result of this change the Versailles Operator’s Shanty took on a new responsibility and a new name, that of a Block Operator Shanty.  These individuals were responsible for all activities within their block.  Versailles was strategically located at the intersection of a split block.  The block territory to the west was Versailles to Willimantic and to the east the block was Versailles to Plainfield. Mr. Edward Meyers went to work for the New York, New Haven, & Hartford Railroad as a brakeman on April 1, 1940.  He worked for the railroad until his death in 1968.  During the late 1950s’ the railroad didn’t need the shanty anymore and was preparing to get rid of it.  Mr. Meyers felt it would make a good addition to his yard at his home in Franklin, Connecticut.  He made arrangements with the railroad to take it off their hands.  So, with his brother, Elmer Meyers, they had the shanty moved to Franklin sometime during 1960. The care and maintenance for this structure became the responsibility of Mr. Meyer’s wife, Elizabeth, after Edward’s passing in 1968.  The structure was located along the edge of the yard at the Meyer’s residence, where it sat for the next forty years.  Sometime early in the year 2000, the Connecticut Eastern Railroad

Connecticut Business Appeal

 Letters were sent out to approximately 400 area businesses, telling them about the museum and the roundhouse and telling them about our program to pay the roundhouse loan.  As of November 30, the following businesses and/or individuals have contributed $1,920 to the museum:

 Village Restaurant, Mansfield Center

Potter’s Oil Service, North Windham

Landon’s Tire, Willimantic

Scott’s Cyclery, Inc, Willimantic

New England Design, Inc, Mansfield Ctr

Paul A Heller, Atty at Law, Willimantic

Karl F Acimovic, PE & LS, Consulting Engineer, Coventry

Peter D Jones, MD, Willimantic

Elm Package Store, Willimantic

Potter Funeral Home, Willimantic

Temporaries of New England, Willimantic

Sarazin General Contractors, Columbia

Rogers Corporation, South Windham

Hoffman Motors, North Windham

Bemis Construction, Columbia

Miller Bros Moving & Storage, So Windham

Subway Development Corp of NE, Storrs

The Chronicle Printing Co, Willimantic

The J P Mustard Agency, Willimantic

D & W Development, Willimantic

Kendall Builders, Lebanon

Columbia Car Care Center, Columbia

 When you patronize these businesses, tell them that you appreciate their thoughtfulness in helping the museum.

Sale of Paver Blocks

 We plan to construct the floor of our new roundhouse with paving blocks.  You can have one or more engraved with your choice of words for only $50 each. As of November 30, 27 paver blocks have been sold for a total of $1350.

 Are you having a problem trying to decide what to have on the paver block?  Consider a donation to the museum, either at a larger or smaller amount.



Calendar of Upcoming Events

 Dec     17 - Monthly meeting, program by Bob Carlson

Jan        7      - Business meeting

           21      - Monthly meeting

Feb    3-4      - Amherst Railway Society train show

           11      - Business meeting

           18      - Monthly meeting

December Speaker

 Member Bob Carlson will present a program on railroading at our December meeting.

Thanks Bruce

 Bruce Marcus, a member from Manchester, presented a check for $5,400 to President Joe Cerreto at our annual banquet to be used towards the purchase of a bearing for the turntable.  This gives us a good start towards getting the turntable installed and usable. The bearing will be ordered shortly.  Thanks again Bruce.

Dues for 2001

 Dues notices for 2001 were mailed on December 4.  Please send in your renewal promptly.  If you did not receive a dues notice, please contact Howard Bidwell at (860)742-9235. 

 More CERM Pics by Bob LaMay

 Bob LaMay continues to get pictures of our museum in the national magazines.  These include:

 Railpace - Sept 2000:

- Chaplin Station being moved 

Waybill, Mystic Valley Railway Society - Sept 2000:

- Chaplin Station, moving to new location.

- Construction of roundhouse.

Railpace - Nov 2000:

- Columbia Junction Roundhouse

Waybill, Mystic Valley Railway Society - Dec 2000

- Versailles Operators Shanty

The Thomas Story

Via “Gondola Gazette - Collis P Huntington Chapter NRHS

 We see Thomas the Tank Engine at rail museums, on TV, and now even in the movies.  Did you ever wonder where Thomas came from?British writer, director, and producer Britt Allcroft was researching a documentary on steam engines in 1979 when she ran across a set of books titled “The Railway Series”, published by Vicar Wilber Awdry in the 1940’s.  She bought the rights for approximately $100,000 and mortgaged her house to bring the stories to TV.  After many rejections, she produced the TV series  “Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends” independently and the show landed on British TV in the early 1980’s. Now Thomas is on TV in 120 countries and has more than 2000 licensed products producing sales of $600,000,000 each year. 

Vanishing Triangles

Via Railroad History No 182

 An article by Jack Swanberg in “Railroad History” discusses the triangular catenary erected by the New Haven Railroad between 1905 and 1907 from Woodlawn Junction to Stamford. All that remains today is a 7-mile section between the Connecticut State Line and Stamford. There has been talk of replacing this wire with new constant tension wire, similar to that between Pelham and the Connecticut Line.

Committees for Coming Year (Continued)

  Newsletter – responsible for writing, editing, printing, and mailing the Ghost Train Journal.

 Property Management – responsible for maintaining records of museum property and keeping that property in good condition.

 Public Relations – responsible for promoting the museum to the public and attracting visitors to the museum.

 Rail Operations – responsible for designing programs to provide safe operation of railroad equipment in order to provide for the safety of the workers and visitors to the museum.

 Restoration and Buildings – responsible for the restoration and maintenance of buildings and equipment.

 Roundhouse Dedication – a new committee to plan and organize a program for the dedication of our new roundhouse.

 Sales Department and Calendar – responsible for purchasing items for resale at the museum, at train shows, or at other events.  Also responsible for planning, printing and selling the annual museum calendar. 

Train Show – responsible for planning our train shows, securing vendors, and operating each train show.

  The museum can only operate with the assistance of its members.  Please sign up for any committee for which you have an interest.  We will provide training if necessary.

 The committees are responsible for the administrative functions of planning and organizing so the volunteers, including committee members, will know what needs to be done.  You do not need to be a member of a committee to do the work the committee plans and organizes.

(Versailles Shanty Continued)

Museum was approached by Mr. Dennis Meyers, the grandson of the Edward and Elizabeth Meyers.  They wanted to donate the shanty to the museum.

 Museum members made a couple of trips to Franklin during August and September to prepare the structure for the eventual move to Willimantic.  Finally on the eve of September 13, 2000 the Versailles Operator’s Shanty arrived at the museum.  It is currently undergoing a complete structural rebuilding. When completed, the Versailles Operator’s Shanty will once again be an important example of the railroad heritage of the 1920’s.  This will make our museum a place where people can gather and relive the golden age of railroading as it was at the turn of the century.

Quick Thinking

From A Treasury of Railroad Folklore 

 James J Hill, founder of the Great Northern Railway, was an extremely thrifty man.  While making an inspection of the railroad, he found a new track spike lying on the ground.  When he approached the foreman with the spike in his hand, the foreman suspected what was going to happen. He thought quickly and said “Thank goodness you found that spike, Mr Hill, I’ve had three men looking for it for nearly a week.”

SNET Community Connections 

 The Chapter received a check for $78.02 during the last quarter from SNET for participating in the Community Connections program.  To date we have received a total of $1,319.54.

 If you are under the SNET All Distance plan, you can aid the Chapter by signing up today.  Forms are available in the Section House or you can call directly at 1-800-635-7638. The Chapter receives 5% of the long distance telephone bill of participants, even non-members.

Spring Excursion?

 Veronica Trudeau is discussing a possible field trip on the Providence and Worcester Railroad from Plainfield to Groton, then up to Gardner, MA and return to Plainfield.  The tentative date is May 5.  Watch for further information.


Via Trains Magazine

 A proposal has been made to re-electrify the 24-mile line between Danbury and South Norwalk. The old wires were removed in 1960.


The museum has received the donation of a book titled “The Faith Jennings Collection”, consisting of photos of Norwich, including many railroad photos.

Treasurer’s Summary – November

By Jeff Laverty

 Income for November totaled $7,360.20 primarily from train show receipts, train excursion ticket proceeds, sale of pavers, receipts from business appeal letters, banquet tickets, and calendar and other sales.  Expenses amounted to $5,633.47 and consisted primarily of train show expenses, the final contractor payments for the roundhouse, ballast and conduit expenses, and interest expense on the roundhouse loan.  As of November 30, cash on hand totaled $25,010.24.

Welcome to the Chapter!

 We welcome the following new members who were voted into the chapter at the November 19 meeting: 

John & Laura Aniello, Farmington, CT

Richard Symonds, Jr., Tolland, CT

Alfred Burnham, East Hartford, CT

A. M. (Sue) Calkins, Willimantic, CT


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Copyright ©2000 Connecticut Eastern Chapter, National Railway Historical Society October  2000.