This blog highlights some of my adventures with the focus on railroad history. Originally intended as a blog of my rail trail rides, it now also includes hikes, railroad trips and even stop-and-go car trips if they are railroad history related...

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Danbury Railroad Museum

Due to my numerous web postings on railroad history, I was contacted by the Danbury Railroad Museum for a tour and chat with a few of the active members.  The weather was still cool but sunny and my visit was excellent. What an amazing array of railroad cars, indoors exhibits and most importantly - congenial kindred spirits passionately dedicated to preserving an often forgotten (and misguided) era of our heritage.

The museum occupies the former Danbury Railroad Station as well as a good sized railroad yard brimming with a wide variety of rolling stock and engines.

Of course, historical maps detailing the regions railroad lines graced walls of the former station and I was enthralled!

My Tour Guides

My "tour guides" were: Pete (a retired engineer and avid storyteller), Phil (a multimedia specialist AND a knowledgeable mechanic for the many of the locomotives), John (an active tour guide at the museum) and  Bob Boothe who initially contacted and invited me on this tour (he is building the steam locomotive shown below).

As mentioned, behind the museum is a yard full of trains: passenger cars, diesel locomotives, cabooses, both a Sperry car and a Sperry bus, and to top it off: a glistening steam engine. I was overwhelmed - it was a gold mine!!!

Most of the cars and locomotives are open and visitors are encouraged to get inside and learn and explore. I was double lucky to have four super knowledgable guides to give an amazing in-depth, hands-on adventure through it all!

Budd Car

One of our first stops was a refurbished Budd Car repainted in the exact NH colors. Pete used to drive this and we saw the cab and heard stories on the folks he knew personally on his runs.

B&M Steam Locomotive

Next was Bob's "baby" an amazing Mogul B&M steam engine. He took me right inside the cab and explained the inner workings of this amazing machine. Back in the glory days of steam, the trains ran a lot faster and these steam engine could really fly!


The next stop were a couple of cabooses (did someone say "cabeese? :-) ) and it was really cool just to sit up top and see the view.  Bob graciously snapped of photo of me grinning.

GM Diesel

Next we ventured inside a big diesel and saw close up the engine and electrical system. We sat in the cab and listened to Pete tell his stories of exactly what is was like to drive this monster locally back in the day... He had a million fascinating vignettes from yesteryear. I--of course--had a million questions and the discourse was enlightening and entertaining for sure!

Yard Abundance

As mentioned, the yard was chock full of a wide array of trains. Most of it was well documented with signs, etc.
The crane was huge--but think about it--it's job was to pull up train cars after a wreck--that would have to be a big bruiser!!
Every car had a story to tell and to have the foursome chatting around me was a thrill.
 Sperry bus
 There is even a working forge on the grounds where blacksmithing occurs.

Mail Car

But I saved the best for last. This restored mail car was unbelievable. A long time before the "conquest" of car and planes, railroads provided speedy and efficient service delivering mail all across the country. Mail bags were simply placed on a hook and snapped up by the train whizzing by then sorted enroute within a mail car just like this.

I captured Bob explaining this in a short video. The bits about guns and a stray dog are great!

What's Next?

I will be assisting the organization with interactive presentations and my extensive digital experience. Stay tuned >> interactive history maps are "a comin'" :-)

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