MYSTIC VALLEY RAILWAY SOCIETY

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*November 1, 2017*







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   Letter from the Editor

The Waybill is for you the members and our friends to enjoy. If there is something you would like to see in the Waybill then please contact us by email at contactus@mysticvalleyrs.org or by mail.

We are always looking for stories to include, as we have many members who are no longer able to go on any trips and they get great enjoyment out of reading about them.

So if you have ever wanted to be a Newspaper reporter now is your chance…


Group Sales Policy: 10 or more tickets purchased in ADVANCE by the SAME PERSON will be entitled to a 10% DISCOUNT subject to availability.

BLOCK SPACE may be arranged on any non-restricted event with Ticket Coordinator or Tour Director (when assigned) at least 50 days prior to departure. For further information, please contact the Mystic Valley Railway Society, 617-361-4445 or e-mail at contactus@mysticvalleyrs.org.

 


 From the President

by Theresa E. Rylko

Thank you all for helping keep the MVRS on track by spreading the word. Please consider being active on the various committees. Trip Team needs your help to keep the trips rolling. The Waybill needs to have your input to get the word out.
If you have any comments for Membero- Gram (maybe a favorite picture of yourself enjoying one of the trips, or a couple of sentences about a favorite trip) please send them in. Keep in touch with fellow travelers. We will not publish telephone numbers or addresses in this column.
If there are any suggestions of how we might improve your enjoyment of the Waybill, please let us know. This is your publication.
If you want to receive a small stack of Waybills to pass out in your favorite spots, please let me know and I will mail them out to you. As you travel along you might see an area which others might enjoy. Feel free to send some literature to the Trip Team to review for future visits..

 


From the Vice President

by Jeff Costello 

 


Happy summer!

The past few weeks have given Mystic Valley Railway Society members much joy and appreciation of what New England has to offer during the lazy, hazy days of summer. From Lincoln NH to Martha’s Vineyard, the experiences and the friends we have met make our trips rewarding. If you know of a place we could visit or a restaurant we could enjoy please let us know. We need your input for the Trip Team to put together interesting, educational trips.
For the fall season, Trip Team has planned some old favorites and some new yet-to-be-tried trips. If you would like to join us at MVRS in any capacity – Trip Team, volunteering, or writing articles for the Waybill – let us know. Upcoming soon will be the Amherst Railway Society’s Railroad Hobby Show. If you wish to donate any train-related items such as railroad books, hats, badges, stuffed animals or train sets, we will accept them to sell there in January at the Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds.

 


From the Membership Chairman

by Nancy Jeanne Martin

 

I am the new chairman of the Membership Committee. This is not a typo – the proper word is chairman. There is no such word as chairperson. I have been an actual member for the last 38 years. My husband, son and I joined in 1979.
I hope you have renewed your membership. The easiest way is to become a life member, as have about 200 others. I did this myself, meaning it is no longer necessary to remember to send in my money each year. I gave a life membership as a gift to my grandson, when he was about 10, because he too loves trains and the calendar. My husband died in 1993 and my son and family live in PA, so I continue alone.
I hope I will see you on a trip soon. I have been working many trips along with Tracey Rylko and other board members. I think my favorite one was Clark’s Trading Post as I love trains and animals such as the bears. If you have any questions feel free to call the club at 617-361-4445. There are lots of trains this fall.
Have a wonderful autumn.

  



From the Waybill Editor

by Roma Hertel

 

On the Friday before Memorial Day, after an intense business trip, we escaped Los Angeles on the Southwest Chief. After checking our bags in at Union Station, we stepped into the courtyard garden. This oasis of calm suddenly engulfed us in stunning nature and architecture. Back inside the fabulous Grand Waiting Room, we travelled to Scandinavia courtesy of “Nordic: A Photographic Essay of Landscapes, Food and People”. We resisted the temptation of the glamorous formal restaurant knowing that, soon after our train departed, the call for dinner would sound.
Once aboard, after walking along to the dining car, we shared a table with interesting conversationalists. One, a resident of Flagstaff AZ, commutes by train every other week for a few days of business in Los Angeles, but works from the quiet of home the rest of the time. Convenient overnight travel in each direction makes this feasible and enjoyable. The other was homeward bound, returning to Illinois after a regular couple-of-times-a-year trip to visit family on the West Coast. As the train climbed east into the dusk, it carried a band of travelers united in the leisurely company of others.
We woke to sunrise over the arid high-altitude sage brush of Arizona, and the new day brought fresh opportunities to meet fellow passengers. While the train underwent mechanical inspection at Albuquerque, there was even enough time for a quick visit to the farmers’ market. Then we detrained in Lamy NM, met by the friends hosting us for the next few days. In less than 24 hours we had experienced cities but also gazed across vast open landscapes to far horizons. We glimpsed different ways of life through art, through talking with chance acquaintances, and through reconnecting with far-flung friends.
Long-distance train travel made all this possible. Admittedly Amtrak is not the fastest way to travel 991 miles but, as a day of cultural enrichment and discovery, this will be difficult to beat. Pacing the departure lounge of an airport then being confined in one plane seat just does not compare. Humans are social animals whose life is enriched by stretching the mind and senses, by moving beyond the normal sphere, by interaction with others, by testing ourselves. Maybe most days are more mundane than this, but each only comes once. We should aspire to grasp every precious opportunity to relish and sample experience. Amtrak is not perfect, but the continuance of long-distance train travel adds value to this enormous, diverse country. Striving for improved service and coverage is a worthy endeavor.




Hobo Railroad Turkey Train 2016

by Gerard Sevigny  



On Saturday September 20, 2016, I took a tour bus ride with the Mystic Valley Railway Society. This time it was off to Lincoln, New Hampshire for the Hobo Railroad Turkey Train.
After a bus ride of more than one hour, we arrived at the bus stop where we parked by a restaurant. At 64 Railroad Street in Lincoln, we saw the beautiful colors of many different kinds of trains. We went to the railroad gift shop and then we went outside. We waited for another train to arrive. We saw different kinds of passenger cars.
We boarded another train, an old-fashioned cranberry sofa seat car. This car was for our tour people. We were lucky because we each had seats. Each table already had water bottles, a tray of paper, spoons, forks, and a cranberry bowl. Beautifully colored plastic leaves were hung from the ceiling of each car.
Two crew staff brought a cart with food for us. One of them cut huge slices of turkey and another lady put several other foods on each plate. I was too busy to eat, looking at the view through the woods. I could see the lake. The staff poured lemonade in each cup.
As we made our way through the NH Lakes’ Region, we passed Lake Winnipesaukee, Meredith, and Weirs Beach. We enjoyed seeing a lot of different cottage houses and big houses. They were close to the train track, directly in our view. The houses behind them were by the lake, and many of them had porches and decks. A female train staffer told me that the taxes on these houses are $11-15,000 a year.
Our tour brought us through a beautiful, colorful place. We could see green mountains, a lot of boats, and geese. I saw many geese along the shore of Weirs Beach, looking for food. On the shore, I saw a boat garage that served as the lowest level for a four-story condo or apartment building. I was surprised that in place of a basement they had boat parking! The people who live there, travel and enter this place and then climb the stairs up to their home. It was the first time I saw this kind of arrangement.
I saw old sign “Bangor and Aroostook Railroad Serving Northern” on the exterior of an old Pullman car on another track. It had beautiful luxury lamps next to the windows. It made me disappointed because I wished it ran service to most of the areas far away in Maine. It made me remember. More than three years ago John, who works as conductor, had showed me on his laptop computer how a long time ago the far area had the most passenger trains.
We enjoyed looking out at the beautiful views as we rode 17 miles round-trip. We were lucky to be there on a warm, sunny day. We had a nice time on this day.



A Day on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

by Dirk Hertel



The Tuesday after Memorial Day 2017 we arrived at the railroad yard in Chama NM. A steam locomotive was shunting a pair of wooden cabooses along sidings filled with what I – with my keen interest in pre-WW1 American railroads – found a mouthwatering display of ancient but beautifully-preserved wooden boxcars, cattle cars, gondolas, flat cars and tankers. Here and there the bright yellow of billboard refrigerator cars drew my attention away from their oxidebrown and black neighbors. My first impression was how well cared-for everything looked. Our friends who live near Santa Fe had brought us to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TS) for the 10am departure to Antonito CO. The train of bright red wooden passenger cars was already waiting in front of the yellow clapboard depot housing the ticket office and gift shop. We bought a topographic map of the line and the “Ticket to Toltec – A Mile by Mile Guide” by Doris B. Osterwald. These turned out to be good investments, enabling us to follow the train’s progress through the varied and challenging mountainous terrain. We had seats in the parlor car at the rear of the train, so as to have access to the private observation platform. Soon the conductor called “All aboard”, and we were on our way to Antonito CO, 64 miles away.
The C&TS is one of only two surviving railroads from a once-vast network of 3ft narrow-gauge steam operating in New Mexico and Colorado. The other is the Durango & Silverton, formerly connected to Chama. Built in the early 1880s through extremely difficult mountainous terrain, the C&TS connected mines, logging operations, farmers and ranchers to their markets. Narrowgauge was not only much cheaper, but could operate around sharper curves than standard gauge (4 ft 8 ½ in). Although this made for easier passage through the mountains, it did restrict traveling speed. The last of these narrow-gauge railroads operated into the 1960s when the automobile road network had become developed enough for trucks, buses and private cars to pull the rug from under them. In 1970 a group of dedicated volunteers was formed, later incorporated as the Friends of the C&TS Railroad, to save not only the rail line but also a large roster of historic steam locomotives, freight- and passenger cars, plus line-side structures, which together create the ambience of an authentic historic railroad. The same year the states of Colorado and New Mexico purchased the line between Chama and Antonito, and hired an operator to run tourist trains on a non-profit basis. However, as this arrangement only provided for the upkeep of the tourist train, valuable historic equipment and buildings soon fell into disrepair. The Friends developed the long-term goal of promoting the C&TS as a living railroad museum. This involved spending countless hours restoring locomotives, cars, track, and buildings, recovering equipment previously sold to other railroads or scrap, and, above all, raising funds. In 2000 the states fired the operator for breach of contract and, when no new operator could be found, the Friends voted to take over operations. Volunteers became professional railroaders. The results are impressive. The line is in excellent condition, the equipment immaculate, and the train crew makes the experience most enjoyable. Our parlor car attendant kept us supplied with refreshments while sharing her knowledge about the line and its surrounding geology, plant life, and railroad operation in general.
The 64-mile eastbound journey begins with a steep climb up the Chama Valley through forests and alpine meadows, on grades of up to of 4%, across the 100 ft high Lobato trestle then loops around steep cliffs up to the high point at Cumbres Pass, over 10,000 ft above sea level. Here winter was not far away, evidenced by the remains of deep snowdrifts. Our long descent to Antonito started through the Tanglefoot Curve, where the engineer blew off steam to the delight of photographers, before continuing down a gentler 1.4% slope through the still-wintry Cumbres and Los Pinos Valleys. The conductor joined us on the observation platform to perform brake duties. He told us that his work is seasonal, and every year he must apply afresh for his position. After crossing the 137 ft-high Cascade Trestle we pulled into Osier CO for a lunch buffet. While waiting for the westbound arrival from Antonito, we got talking to the fireman about a piece of glossy black coal we had found near the track. He explained that this coal is mined in Colorado, and its glossy appearance shows that it is fresh. It turns out that exposure to air, sunlight and rain causes coal to ‘weather’. Oxidation not only makes it appear dull and gray but also reduces its quality, which is of critical importance when powering a train over a 10,000 ft pass on 4% grades. During this interesting conversation the westbound train steamed in and we could continue eastbound along the precipitous edge of Toltec Gorge. Two tunnels give a glimpse into the difficulties of building a railroad through this terrain: while Rock Tunnel cuts through extremely hard pre- Cambrian rock, Mud Tunnel goes through deposits of soft volcanic ash and mud which erosion has formed into strange spires along the nearby Phantom Curve. After passing the Sublette Section House I noticed the landscape changing into gentler mesas and foothills, covered with ponderosa pine and sagebrush. The Whiplash Curves and Lava Loop take the line down into the semi-arid sagebrush plains surrounding Antonito, the terminus. From here a motorcoach took us back to Chama.
The narrow-gauge railroad once continued south along the edge of the Rio Grande canyon (and I was excited to later trace its route on Google Earth). It eventually reached the canyon floor at Embudo NM, where an old water tower marks the site of the station, before continuing to Santa Fe. This memorable journey not only gave me a window into the past of railroading but also demonstrated what dedicated volunteers can achieve.




BOARD OF DIRECTORS

April 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018

 


President - Theresa E. Rylko (Tracey)
Vice President - Jeffrey Costello (Jeff)
Treasurer - Judy Berson-Hoyt
Recording Secretary - Nancy Roney
Directors:
Lillian Garvey
Eleanor Manning
William Manning
Nancy Martin
Joseph McDonough
Marcia Pennington

Positions They Fill:
Roma Hertel - Button Maker
Dr. Dirk Hertel - Photography/Calendar
Billy Manning - Mailing Chairperson
Nancy Jeanne Martin - Membership Chairperson
Sally Avjian & Ellie Manning-
Trip Team (Planning Trips and Social Event Co-Chairs)
Roma Hertel – Waybill Editor
Dan Ouellette - Web Master/Computer
Joe McDonough & Jeff Costello – Trade Show Coordinators
Jeff Costello – Communications Radios/Defibrillators
Marcia Pennington & Jeff Costello – Boutique
Mary & Jay Verner – Waybill Mailing Coordinators
Albert W. Avjian - Treasurer, Emeritus
Sally M. Avjian - Recording Secretary, Emeritus

 

You will see many of these volunteers as tour leaders on your trips.

It takes a team effort to have a successful volunteer organization. Please share your talents as a volunteer with MVRS and be

rewarded by seeing your work in action.  Call 617-361-4445 and a volunteer form will be sent to you.

 

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Previous Waybills: Summer 2017    Spring 2017    Fall 2016   Summer 2016    Spring 2016    

Winter 2015   Summer 2015     Spring 2015     

Winter 2014     Fall 2014

 

 

 

 

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Revised: June, 2017