Newsletter v6 No 2 2007

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October 2007

THE PATRONESS OF THE RAILROAD MUSEUM A TRIBUTE TO MRS. MARY MOODY NORTHEN This issue of the newsletter is dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Mary Moody Northen. Without Mrs. Northen’s vision and determination, there would be no Museum to visit. The Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad (GCSF) was founded by Galveston businessmen in 1873 to provide a means of getting goods out of Galveston by rail without having to pass through Houston - - Houston had the nasty habit of embargoing goods because of the threat of “epidemics” in Galveston. In 1885, soon after it began operating, the GCSF became a subsidiary of the Atcheson, Topeka & Santa Fe (ATSF, or simply the Santa Fe) Railway, although it continued to operate as a separate entity until 1965. What is now the Shearn Moody Plaza building in which the Railroad Museum ticket office and Peoples’ Gallery reside, was constructed by the CGSF to serve as its corporate headquarters. Construction was in two phases, the first in 1912, followed by a multi-story addition in 1932. It was known as the Santa Fe building because of the close corporate connection of the two railroads. The arrival and departure tracks and the waiting area were collectively known as Union Station because in addition to ATSF passenger trains, passenger trains of the Missouri Pacific, Southern Pacific and Rock Island railroads also operated out of the station. In 1965 the ATSF formally purchased the GCSF Railroad. The ATSF consolidated its offices in Temple, Texas, and closed the GCSF offices in the Santa Fe building, in 1965. The last regularly scheduled passenger train departed Galveston on 11 April 1967, ending almost 100 years of continuous passenger service on and off the Island.

Mrs. Mary Moody Northen formal portrait (hanging in lobby of the Northen Student Center, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Pelican Island campus).

profits on and off the Island for many years. Under her leadership, the Moody Foundation purchased the Santa Fe building and associated properties - the freight offices, Railway Express office and the arrival and departure tracks. Soon after, Following the closure, the building and grounds sat vacant the Center for Transportation and Commerce, AKA the for years and were in danger of being demolished. Galveston Railroad Museum, was founded. Fortunately Mrs. Northen liked trains. Until her death, Mrs. Northen was chairperson of the Moody Foundation, a With the enthusiastic support of Mrs. Northen (she married philanthropic organization that has supported many non- E. C. Northen, but had no children), and generous ($5.5 million)



October 2007

support from The Moody Foundation, the Museum acquired engines, rolling stock, and railroadiana from around the country, forming the nucleus of what has become the largest collection of railroad artifacts in the southwestern United States.

his death, including control of the Moody Foundation that had been formed primarily to sustain projects concerned with environmental matters, historical preservation, and higher education. The Railroad Museum naturally fell in to the historical preservation category.

The Moody Foundation was formed by Mrs. Northen’s parents, W. L. Moody and Libbie Shearn Moody. Mr. Moody made a fortune primarily in banking and insurance, but he expanded into other ventures. At the time of his death in 1954, he owned about 50 corporations, including American National Insurance Company (headquartered in Galveston), hotels, ranches and banks. Much of the profits from the corporations went into forming the Foundation

Mrs. Northen was honorary chairperson of the Museum’s board of directors until her death. Just outside the Museum offices, sitting on a simulated turntable, is Waco, Beaumont, Trinity & Sabine engine #1. #1 is nicknamed the “Mary and Elizabeth, Too” in honor of Mrs. Northen, as that was what she called herself as a little girl. Mrs. Northen came to the Museum fairly frequently and delighted in being taken for rides on the passenger cars.

Mrs. Northen’s father groomed her to take over the business interests of the Moody family, which she did upon

So, as you enjoy the Museum, remember Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Moody Northen. Without her, there would be no Museum.

MEET MRS. BETTY MORRIS KEEPER OF THE FRONT GATE AT THE MUSEUM Betty Morris could sell refrigerators to Eskimos, she is that good a salesperson. Betty is in charge of the front entrance to the Museum, operates the gift shop that originally was the newsstand when the Peoples’ Gallery was Union Station, and determines what items the Museum needs to stock for the shop. Betty invariably greets visitors to the Museum with a big smile. And she will happily sell you Tshirts, toy trains, railroad china and glassware, and other interesting little trinkets.

to visit the Museum, sell you a ticket to ride the train, and will endeavor to relieve you of much cash as she can by selling you railroad items you never knew you needed. The Museum is truly blessed to have Betty as a valued member of the staff.

Betty was born in Brenham, Texas and graduated from Yegua High School near Lake Somerville. She started in retail sales right out of high school and now has 35 years in the business, working at stores such as Palais Royal, Woolco, The Fair, and the J. C. Penney Catalog Center where she was a supervisor. She also substitute taught for a short time in the Galveston School District. In August, she celebrated her 5th year working at the Museum, a job she says she likes much more than any of her previous positions. She has parlayed her considerable retailing knowledge into attractive displays of merchandise and increased sales at the gift shop. Betty has been married to George Morris for 35 years and has been living in Galveston for over 40 years. She has one daughter and two grandkids. So if you come into the Museum off the Strand, chances are it will be Ms. Betty who will greet you, sell you a ticket


Betty Morris at her post behind the gift shop counter.



Restoration activities continue at your Museum, although they were somewhat curtailed by the summer heat. Volunteer Pat Duffin began the laborious process of lettering and numbering the ATSF tank car. Prior to beginning, the car was moved from track 2 to track 3 so it was close to Pat’s access to the yard.

ATSF tank car 100221 being switched onto track 3.

As reported a year ago, the Kansas City Southern gondola was under restoration. By July 2007, the entire car was cleaned, treated with rust converter, primed and painted, inside and out. The before and after photos of the left side of the car demonstrate the amazing contrast after the application of a little paint.

The left side of the KCS gondola in January 2005.

His process is to apply painter’s tape over the area to be stenciled, apply a stencil, cut away the tape to create the letters and numbers, and then carefully paint in the letter or number. Finally, he strips away the tape and touches up any place where paint is peeled off. Pat started in April, but was run off by the heat and humidity and will continue his work in the fall.

The left side of the KCS gondola in February 2005.

ATSF tank car 100221 as she appeared in May 2007.

The outside was the easy part. Removing paint from the interior of an open metal car in Galveston in summer is brutal. I had some help on this car. The Museum has been making good use of community service “volunteers’ and two of them spent a Saturday working in the car in 2005. They managed to get most of one side cleaned off. Strangely, there were no volunteers among the next group of community service “volunteers.” Guess the word got out about working in the gondola.



Community service “volunteers” removing paint from the gondola interior, July 2005.

October 2007 Last year we reported that the fountain, that had sat idle for at least 10 years, had been refurbished by my wife, Carol, and me, and that Morris Gould had gotten the water pump working again. We also reported on the early stages of landscaping. I’m pleased to report that the fountain area has become a welcoming sight for visitors approaching the rear of the Museum from the parking lot. Natal plums were planted around the lower basin last summer and these have grown up to almost the height of the basin. Flagstones were installed and on either side of the flagstones were planted blue daze and prostrate rosemary. Plants that did not survive the winter /summer were replaced in July 2007.

The walls were done first, and then the floor was tackled. The floor was badly pitted in many places and these pits were filled with Bondo before the final coats of paint were applied. The gon floor was finally cleaned and primed in September 2006. It was painted in July 2007.

The fountain and grounds in July 2007. Funding for restoration of the fountain and landscaping was provided by a very nice gift to the Museum by the faculty and staff of the Marine Biology Department of Texas A&M University at Galveston upon my retirement from the Department in August 2006. The Museum is grateful to the Department members for their generosity. In addition, Executive Director Morris Gould installed a flag pole at the west end of the fountain. All in all, a very nice area to greet the Museum’s guests. DID YOU KNOW….

Floor of KCS gondola with walls painted and floor primed, July 2007. 4

That before the air brake system used to stop a train was invented, the railroads employed a lot of brakemen whose job it was to ride atop the cars and turn the brake wheels to apply the brakes if the train was going downgrade and to loosen the brakes once the track leveled out or began to go upgrade. Each brakeman was responsible for several cars, so they had to jump from car roof to car roof, often in foul weather. A lot of men were killed in the line of duty.

VOLUME 6 - ISSUE 2 When the Museum opened in 1983, one of the standout features of the Garden of Steam was a white gazebo set atop a concrete pad. Time, termites and the weather conspired to render the original gazebo a hazard to life and limb, and it had to be demolished. We are pleased to report, however, that it has been replaced by a brand new structure. Museum visitors who are tired of walking can relax on one of the benches and listen to railroad music being piped in from nearby CD players.

October 2007 The refreshment stand facing the Garden of Steam has been refurbished and should be reopened as “the Whistlestop Cafe” by the time you read this newsletter. Local restauranteurs Curtis and Sharon Gillins, owners and operators of Le Bon Cafe on 29th and Church in Galveston, and their partners, Angela and Terry Hatter, have taken over operation of the stand and made all the improvements.

Interior view of “The Whistlestop”.

Front of newly constructed gazebo.

And finally, the last of the long list of improvements to your Museum is the installation of new glass doors to the gift shop display shelves. Betty Morris is beside herself with happiness!

Gift shop front counter with glass door display cases behind. Side of newly constructed gazebo. 5


October 2007



Each summer, Texas A&M University at Galveston hosts 2-week camps for kids. Most of the camps deal with aspects of marine biology or marine science, but there are also some specialty classes. One of these is photography. And as long as the class has been taught, the instructor has brought his students to the Railroad Museum so they could feast their eyes and their lenses on the extraordinarily wide variety of shapes, sizes, angles and curves present in the rolling stock collection.

The Museum hosted its second annual spring train show in May 2007. The show, again ramrodded by board member Steve Barkley, featured model railroads in several scales, rides in the caboose or engine cab, cars open to the public that normally remain closed, and clinics. By all accounts the show was a success and several of the vendors have already asked to return next year.

Photography camp class posing in front of the Warbonnet painting in the Garden of Steam. KROGER CARDS CONTINUE TO GENERATE INCOME FOR RESTORATION Keep using those Kroger cards, folks. The Museum is now receiving upwards of $100 per quarter from the Kroger Corporation. These funds are being used in the rail car maintenance program. $400 per year may not sound like much, but it will purchase a lot of paint and other supplies.



October 2007

A BUSY SEPTEMBER SATURDAY AT THE MUSEUM Saturday, the 22nd of September saw a lot of hustle and bustle at the Museum. Marketing Director Sandi Schneider booked a gathering of about 300 Cub and Boy Scouts, some of whom worked on their Railroading Merit Badge, and their troop leaders/chaperones, plus two birthday parties. Sandi reported that there were so many trying to get in the Museum that a line formed out the front door. Ray Wells and his crew of conductors gave rides to 291 people on the caboose and in the cab during the day. To top off a very good day for the Museum, a large group rented the People’s Gallery for the evening. A good time seemed to be had by all.

VOLUNTEERS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME The lifeblood of any non-profit organization is the volunteers who give of their time and money simply because they love what the organization stands for. There are many great volunteer positions available for YOU at the Galveston Railroad. Larry Highley is chair of the volunteer committee and he would like to hear from you. He can be contacted through the Museum’s e-mail: or by phone at 409-765-5700. Give a call and leave your name and a contact number. Get involved. Check out the types of volunteer services needed on our website: to see which one(s) interest you.


Galveston Island Railroad Museum & Terminal 123 Rosenberg Galveston, TX 77550



October 2007 Galveston Island offers everything in a resort destination - beautiful accommodations, entertainment, shopping and 32 miles of Gulf Coast beaches. Galveston’s festivals, special events and attractions are enjoyable for Islanders and tourists alike. One bit of advice - don’t wait until you have out-of-town visitors to tour the island’s many attractions. Be sure to visit the Museum during your stay.

For additional information, visit the Galveston Island Visitors Center at 25th Street and Seawall Boulevard or Galveston Island Railroad Museum & Terminal 123 Rosenberg Galveston, TX 77550