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Arthur W Schnabel, Editor ~ Mark Granville, Asst. Editor     Volume 9, Number 7  July 2001
 Published Monthly by the CONNECTICUT EASTERN CHAPTER of the N.R.H.S., Inc

A Grand and Glorious Day

Who could have envisioned the great celebration that took place on June 10th when a small group of people began the Connecticut Eastern Chapter, NRHS and the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum in 1991?

Last year when the June 10th date was selected, there were many questions about selecting that date.  Will the museum be ready by then?  How many people will attend, 50 or 5000?  What will the weather be like?

While a few of our goals were not fully achieved, the members worked many long and hard hours to get things ready.  Paid attendance was 669 people plus our guests and children who paid no fee.  The weather couldn’t have been better and everyone had a good time.

Ticket sales, Roundhouse Soda sales, gift shop sales, new memberships, sales of paver blocks, and additions to the SNET Community Connections Program resulted in several thousand more dollars available for museum projects.

Are we all done?  Definitely not!!!  During the upcoming months, we have work to complete on the roundhouse and turntable, as well as track work, track work, track work.  Hopefully, we can again begin restoring our equipment, some of which needs a lot of work.  So come on down to the museum and we will find something for you to do.  Even if you are unable to do construction or restoration type work, you may free up one of our volunteer guides to go back to the track or restoration projects.  Thanks for your continuing assistance to the museum.

What’s New at the Museum

Track work:

Track has been laid from the West end of the wye to the Section House and is partly spiked.


The doors have been installed and track has been spiked in place on pit 6.  151 paver blocks have been installed on the floor by pit 6.

Chaplin Station:

Repairs have been made and the building has been repainted.

Freight House:

Museum souvenirs and clothing are now available in the office area.

Operator’s Shanty:

The Operator’s Shanty has received its final coat of paint and is now in use as our ticket booth.

What’s Happening?

Ray Axelrod promoted our museum on the TRAK Yale-Harvard boat race observation train and sold $122 of museum souvenirs.

SNET Community Connections

The Chapter received a check for $78.58 during the last quarter from SNET for participating in the Community Connections program.  To date we have received a total of $1,471.87.

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 1-800-635-7638.  The Chapter receives 5% of the long distance telephone bill of participants, even non-members.

Recent Donations

Web Site:

The Willimantic Chronicle has donated free advertising for our train show and Grand Opening.  They are also sponsoring our web site, which will cover the cost of the monthly fees.

Operating Manuals:

Francis Saunders has donated various equipment maintenance manuals that should be useful in repairing and restoring our equipment.

2-4-2 Comes to Connecticut

Three-foot gauge Hawaii Railway 2-4-2  No. 5 has been acquired by the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association of Kent, CT.  It was built by Baldwin in 1925 and was restored for Railfair 1999.  It will be operated on the Association’s grounds.  Browse their web site at for further information.

Columbia Junction Turntable

According to interviews with local residents, the original 60’ Armstrong turntable bridge and hardware was removed at the beginning of World War II and scrapped.  A replacement 60’ turntable bridge and hardware was located and is currently on the museum grounds awaiting installation.  The turntable came from the Boston & Albany Railroad’s facility at Dudley, Massachusetts.

The late Nelson Blount, at the time, owned Steamtown located in Vermont and the Edaville Railroad located at South Carver, Massachusetts.  He purchased the turntable and had it shipped to South Carver.  His untimely death ended any future plans for the turntable use.  A special fund drive took place to help with the purchase and shipment to Willimantic, Connecticut.

With the donation of funds by a member to purchase a bearing, we have the materials needed to complete the installation of the turntable.  We hope to finish this project by the end of this year.









Calendar of Upcoming Events

July    1   - business meeting

          4   - Boom Box Parade, museum open

        15   - membership meeting

        16   - Mansfield Senior Center tour

Aug    5   - business meeting

          9   - Canterbury Senior Center tour

        19   - membership meeting

Museum Staff Needed

The museum is now open to the public from 10 AM to 4 PM every Saturday and Sunday.  The first two weekends have been very promising.  A small but steady flow of people has kept the museum occupied from opening to closing.  We even had visitors the Sunday it rained!

Staffing the museum has not been a problem on Saturdays because it is our regular work day, but we have been short on staff both Sundays.  The museum cannot be successful unless we can maintain regular hours.  Please consider working on a Sunday.  You can sign-up in advance on the duty roster posted in the Section House or you can call Mark Granville at 860-456-3956.

4th of July Picnic?

The museum will participate in the Independence Day boom box parade in Willimantic.  Those interested in marching or riding should meet at the museum at 10 AM.  We will have the museum open in the afternoon.  Anyone want to bring a picnic lunch?  At least one grill will be available.

The Museum Makes the News

The Short Line –December 2000:

Story about the railbus.

Railpace - May 2001:

Picture of the Operator’s Shanty with other buildings in the background.

Greenboard – Railroad Enthusiasts – Hartford Div:

Two page article about the museum.

Along the Line – RMNE, V 33 No 4:

Museum origins began with RMNE.

Railpace – June 2001:

Picture of Alco S4 with New England Central Northbound in the background.

The Waybill – Mystic Valley Rwy Soc – June 2001:

Picture of Operator’s Shanty

Willimantic Chronicle – June 7, 2001:

Story about museum and pictures.

Channel 3 News – June 7, 2001:

Dan Kane report.

Journal Inquirer – June 9, 2001:

Pictures & story about the museum.

Willimantic Chronicle Album – June 9, 2001:

Pictures and story about museum, its plans, and volunteers.

Hartford Courant – June 11, 2001:

Plans for museum and work of volunteers.

Columbia Junction Roundhouse (continued)

The reconstruction of the roundhouse began during the fall of 1999.  Phase one was completed in August 2000.  Comparing this to the original 1892 construction here are some of the differences: The overall roof height was increased less than a foot to allow our locomotives to clear the tops of the doorways. A brick paver floor replaces a dirt floor. Steel support columns along with steel support beams hold up the wooden rafters, plywood sheathing, and fiberglass roof shingles.Concrete block walls with a brick veneer and a layer of insulation in between.  The endwalls measure 18” thick, backwalls are 14” thick, and front supports are 16” thick. Twenty-one aluminum clad wooden double hung windows with removable 9 over 9 mullion bar with double pane glass. The original foundation and footings were used in the reconstruction.  The foundation granite capstones had to be reset in a new mortar bed.  Rebar was drilled 3’ into the brownstone foundation. Entrance door keystones were numbered 1-6.  Of the original six keystones, 1, 2, 3, and 4 were found during the excavation.  Due to the thickness of the original keystones, they wouldn’t fit with the new steel beams in the wall over the doors.  Thinner keystones were cast to match the originals.

Treasurer’s Summary – May

Income for May totaled $1,516.69 and came primarily from P & W ticket sales, individual contributions, and the sale of roundhouse pavers.

Expenses amounted to $11,338.79 and consisted primarily of track ballast and sub-ballast fill, paver inscriptions, and train show expenses.  Other costs included: railroad tools, roundhouse doors, purchase of sales items, and restoration of buildings.

As of May 31, cash on hand totaled $20,901.28.

Welcome to the Chapter!

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

 Geoffrey & Elaine Alson, Stafford

Robert & Kathleen Burke, Columbia

Duane & Cindy McDuffee, Stafford

David Morse, Storrs

Dennis Wolter, Preston




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