Newsletter v7 No 1 2008

Page 1

RAILROAD TIES NEWSLETTER OF THE GALVESTON ISLAND RAILROAD MUSEUM AND TERMINAL March 2008

VOLUME 7 - ISSUE 1

THE INNOVATIONS ROLL ON HOBO NIGHT AND SANTA’S TRAIN RIDE Take some 4 x 4s, some safety netting, a bunch of hay bales, add strings of lights, a 1908 vintage flat car, a 1949 vintage diesel engine, and what do you get? The ride of a lifetime. Marketing Director Sandi Schneider and Executive Director Morris Gould dreamed up a great October event at the Museum - a hayride on a flat car and dubbed it Hobo Night. The car was Denver and Rio Grande Western flat car #21158, constructed in 1908, and thus one of the oldest cars in the Museum’s inventory. This car has experienced a couple of important events in its history. First, in February 1931, it carried raw granite used to construct the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to Washington, D.C. Second, it was the first car to be renovated during the early resurgence of the Museum as a destination for locals and visitors to Galveston. In 2000, Philip Hyde, a Boy Scout from Friendswood, selected the restoration of DRGW 21185 as an Eagle Scout project. Philip recruited his buddies and scout leaders, and obtained the necessary funding. Their crew removed and discarded the old decking and not only re-decked the car, but also cleaned much of the rust off metal parts and primed those areas. A lot had to be done to make the car ready for Hobo Night. The car had not moved from its position on Track 1 alongside the Museum’s parking lot for at least 15 years, and the tracks it sat on were not in the best of shape. Carl Hallows gingerly towed the flat car out onto Track 3 with his pickup truck. Engine 1303 then shoved it onto Track 5. To make the car ready for riders, Larry Highley screwed down boards that had come loose and warped since the restoration. Then 4 x 4s were inserted in the 10 stake pockets arrayed along the each side of the car. A 2 x 4 railing was nailed to all of the vertical stakes. Safety netting was secured to the stakes all around the car. An air line was connected to the back end glad hand and an air horn was attached to the free end of the line - this to signal at the three grade crossings along the route when the train was backing up. And finally bales of hay which were donated by Santa Fe resident Danny Schaeter were placed along the sides and down the middle for seating.

th The Hobo Night event was held on October 13 . Sandi had solicited door prizes from local merchants (see below). Gabby the Clown was on hand to provide entertainment for the kids. Over 100 visitors came to the Museum to participate in the late afternoon and evening rides. Evidently the older “kids” in the crowd enjoyed the rides as much as the little kids. The event was so successful that the Museum staff plan to make it an annual event.

DRGW 21185 and SP 1303 ready for Hobo Night

Gabby the Clown provided entertainment for the kids


Riders began arriving about sunset and stood in lines awaiting the All Aboard call.

Happy riders ready to go

WE COULDN’T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU! The Museum thanks the following merchants and individuals for donating door prizes for Hobo Night. We urge everyone to patronize their businesses. The Admiralty Marine Model Gallery, 2221 Strand, Galveston, 77550. 409-766-1776. Gift certificate. Arlan’s Market, 2415 Avenue P, Galveston, 77550. 409-621-2100. Grocery gift certificate. Baskin Robbins 31, 4110 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, 77550. 409-763-2917. Free ice cream treats. Dash Beardsley, Ghost Tours of Galveston, 5401 Broadway, Suite 24, Galveston, 77554. 409-949-2027. 2 & ½ hour haunted historical walking tour passes. Benno’s on the Beach, 1200 Seawall Blvd., Galveston, 77550. 409-762-4621. Gift certificate. Chili’s Restaurant, 500 Seawall Blvd., Galveston, 77550. 409-621-2100. Gift certificate. Jackie Cole, Campeche Cove Animal Hospital, 3802 Cove View, Galveston., 77554. 409-740-0808. A Day and the Spa: 12 visits for bath & flea treatment. Ed Ferrin, Nature Photographer, 4627 Ursuline, Galveston, 77551. 409-750-8603. Hobos photograph. Galveston Railroad Museum, 123 Rosenberg, Galveston, 77550. 409-765-5700; Thomas the Train birthday party. Texas Limited glass & 2 free admissions & two Trian Ride parties. Sharon & Curt Gillins, Ya Bon Village Coffeehouse, 2929 Church Street, Galveston, 77550. 409-763-5680. 2 gift cards. Angela Hatter, Whistle Stop Café at the Railroad Museum, Galveston, 77550. 409-750-2497. Gift certificates. Kroger, 5730 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, 77551. 409-741-8580. Gift certificate. Melissa Marshall, Chico’s Paradise, 500 Seawall Blvd, Galveston, 77550. 409-750-8973. Gift certificate. Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum, 2002 Wharf, Galveston, 77550. 409-766-7827. 2 free admissions and souvenir mug. Alyn & Ben Pearlman, Papa Ben’s Train Place, 2506 South Blvd, Houston, 77098. 713-523-5600. Gift certificate. Steve Raddick, Mosquito Café, 628 14th Street, Galveston, 77550. 409-763-1010. Gift certificate. Radio Shack, 4714 Seawall Blvd., Galveston, 77551. 409-762-3186. Portable weather radio. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, 2225 Strand, Galveston, 77550. 409-762-4340. Gift basket. Rosenberg Library, 2310 Sealy, Galveston, 77550. Storytelling by Karen, 409-763-8854. Danny Schaeper, Algoa, 77511. 409-925-8146. Hay for the flat car hay rides. Star Drug Store, 510 Tremont, Galveston, 77550. 409-766-7719. Gift certificate.


Sid Steffens, Island Carriages, 2528 Post Office, Galveston, 77550. 409-765-6951. Victorian Excursion Carriage Ride. Raul Villarreal, McDonald’s Restaurant, Friendswood, 77549. 281-648-6280. Happy meal certificates. Calvin Wehrle, 3717 Avenue S ½, Galveston, 77550. 409-766-1986. Ghosts of Travelers Past exhibit photograph.

On Saturday, December 15th, the Museum held its first Santa’s Train Ride special event. To create a festive experience for the visitors, Museum staff and volunteers spent many hours prior to the event decorating the Museum grounds and Peoples’ Gallery with lights, ribbons, garlands, and all the trappings of Christmas. All the preparations created a festive atmosphere and contributed to everyone having a grand time.

Santa and his elves arriving on Track 5. After saluting the crowd with jovial Ho-Ho-Hos, Santa disembarked and took his seat in the People’s Gallery where he held court for the assembled throng who came to see him. The two elves escorted the kids, one by one, through a decorated arbor and put them on Santa’s lap.

Lights on the trees and the gazebo in the Garden of Steam.

Kids lined up to visit with Santa.

Peoples’ Gallery decorations. On the appointed day, kids of all ages lined up along Track 5 to witness Santa Claus arriving on the back porch of a caboose, accompanied by two elves dressed in green.


A young one tells Santa her wants and needs for Christmas. Added attractions included a crafts table. manned by volunteers, for the kids to make Christmas ornaments, reindeer antler crowns and other Christmassy items, and several children’s choirs who came to the Museum to entertain visitors.

Kids creating Christmas ornaments at the crafts table And, as is customary on Saturdays, engine cab and caboose rides were offered to the attendees. The consensus of the visitors was that the event was a great success and ought to be repeated in 2008.

DID YOU KNOW…… That a train has the right of way at each and every grade crossing. Just think of it as the Law of Gross Tonnage - if it is a lot bigger and heavier than you are, don’t try argue with it with using your vehicle.

That the conductor is the boss on a train. Everyone wants to be the engineer, but it is the conductor who tells the engineer when he can go and can stop the train by pulling on the emergency cord.


THE GOOD NEWS DEPARTMENT by Don Harper, Advisory Board Member Where to begin. Improvements to the rolling stock and to fixed-place items that had succumbed to time and weather at the Museum continue to accelerate. In October 2007, for a wedding and reception, Museum staff created a marvelous display by stringing the gazebo with lights. This display was recreated for Santa’s Train Ride In the last issue of this newsletter I reported that a new gazebo had been constructed to replace the original.

Sandi Schneider has actively marketed the Museum as a site for wedding receptions, birthday parties, and other events. The Southern dining car and the Burlington’s Silver Hours cars have been the sites of several events. Larry Highley repaired the lighting. Museum staff members cleaned and polished the cars to an immaculate condition, and have created an ambience reminiscent of when the cars were in active service on the railroad. The first event was an elaborate, catered banquet for the personnel of Contract Land Staff of Stafford, Texas. Guests were ushered into, and seated in, the dining car. The Silver Hours was used for serving food.

Garden of Steam gazebo all lit up. Also in the last issue I reported that the Whistle Stop Café had been cleaned and repainted on the inside and was being operated by Angela and Terry Hatter. To enhance the attractiveness of the Café, Victor Garcia, Museum jack-of-all-trades, repainted the exterior dark green and the trim gold. He has created an eyecatching structure that is sure to please visitors to the Museum.

Southern diner awaiting guests

Food serving area of the Silver Hours Since that first event, the cars have been used several times for wedding receptions, birthday parties and business meetings.

Victor Garcia painting the Whistle Stop Café.


Ghosts of Travelers Past Repairs One of the outstanding features of the depot is the collection of statues, called Ghosts of Travelers Past, in the waiting room. These statues were created by Ivan and Elliott Schwartz in New York. The brothers made molds of real people in various poses. Plaster casts were made from these molds, and the casts were dressed in 1930s period clothing. The clothing was then coated with plaster to create the “ghosts.” The statues were placed on display in the Peoples’ Gallery when the Museum opened in 1983. Like the gazebo, time and the hands of thousands of Museum visitors had taken their toll. Hands and fingers were missing. Plaster was gone off some of the clothing. The statues, though cleaned periodically, were a bit on the dirty side. Repairing statues

Repairing a statue Repairing a statue New Signals Along Track 5

Enter a group of volunteer art students from Mt. Carmel High School, Houston, led by their teacher, Ernest Davila, on 24 October 2007. They painstakingly cleaned and restored the statues to near their original condition.

In 2006, the George Bush Library in College Station created a railroad display that was open for about 6 months. When the display was being dismantled, the Museum, that had loaned its minitrain to the Library for the duration of the event, was asked if it wanted one of the railroad signals that had been placed outside the Library. Thus the Museum acquired a Southern Pacific two-target signal, along with the column and base. Signal enthusiasts, and volunteer’s Vance and Janell Gabryszwski took on as their project the installation of the signal along Track 5, near 28th Street. First, with the assistance of their family, they dug a hole, not an easy task with all the ballast in the area, for a concrete footer. Then they installed the base and column. Finally they wired the signals so they can hooked to a battery (for the time being - permanent wiring will come later) and will display red, green, or white signals.


Track Work

Digging a pit for the cement footer.

Another very valued volunteer, who recently appeared out of the blue, is John von Briesen. John resides in Baltimore, Maryland, but is the principal engineer for the light rail line along Richmond in Houston. He works weeks and alternates weekends at home and at the Museum. John knows track inside and out and has begun a systematic assessment of track condition in the Museum yard and along its lead. He started by tightening up all the loose rail joiner nuts. He discovered a broken rail near 29th Street that had to be repaired (see below), and has begun tie replacement where needed. In early March he replaced 4 ties on Track 5, two of which were so rotten they fell apart as they were being removed. He brings his own speeder to Galveston in a specially designed trailer, rolls it off onto Museum tracks, hooks it to a tool car, and transports tools and ties to wherever he is working.

Janell and Vance installing the signal base, with the assistance of their family. John von Briesen with his speeder and tool car

John von Briesen shoveling ballast back on the roadbed after installing four new ties. Operating signal light as seen from the cab of 1303


The broken rail discovered by John eventually resulted in a considerable amount of track and tie replacement at 28th and 29th Streets, where the Museum’s five yard tracks merge into the one lead track that parallels Harborside Drive. Employees of the Railworks company performed the work in February. Besides replacing the broken rail, much of the Track 3 lead between 28th and 29th was completely rebuilt, and new header ties were installed at the switch where Track 4 diverges from Track 5.

Tightening tie bar bolts joining replaced rail at 29th Street.

Broken rail just before the switch points at 29th Street.

Track 3 lead being replaced between 28th and 29th Streets.

Track gang hard at work at 29th Street.

Newly installed ties at the Track 4-Track 5 switch, 28th Street.


MUSEUM HONORS THE VOLUNTEER CORPS At year end, the Museum hosted a party to honor the dedication of the Museum’s volunteers. The volunteer corps has grown from very humble beginnings and now boasts, in addition to the Board members who are all volunteers, about 10 individuals who come to the Museum regularly to work on the equipment or help with the train rides or when the minitrain is run. In addition there are about 50 volunteers who can be called upon when special events occur, such as the Santa Train, or Artrain, or the annual train show, to assist with crowd control, with the

Engineer Ray Wells showing off his certificate of appreciation kid’s tables, to provide security for the events themselves, or to allow tours of cars that are not normally open to the public. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Museum volunteer corps, check out the last page of this newsletter for information. Believe it or not, volunteering at the Museum can be a very uplifting avocation. Several volunteers gathered at Yaga’s to celebrate some Christmas cheer.

The Museum Welcomes Aboard New Members The following individuals have helped in advancing the overall mission of the Museum by becoming members. Verladyne Arbaugh, Houston, TX O. M. Barlow, Pleasanton, CA Marylyn Broussard, Broaddus, TX Cassidy Bues, Galveston, TX Nathan Fiegel, Galveston, TX Larry & Gay Fly, Galveston, TX George Gould, LaMarque, TX Tamara Grantham, Galveston, TX Jack Hardy, Galveston, TX Billy Hebert, Humble TX David & Anette Ingram, League City, TX Robin Jass, Pearland, TX Kaylee Johnson, Dauphin, MB, Canada

Christopher Jones, Houston, TX Samme Lansdowne, Houston, TX Kenneth & Rita Lee, Houston, TX Tara Martini, Friendswood, TX Theresa McKenna, Bellaire, TX Mills Family Houston, TX Edward Nelson, Houston, TX Renten, Tom Conway, AZ Jerry Rice, Galveston, TX Erin Toberman, Galveston, TX John von Briesen, Houston, TX Mark Weiss, League City, TX


TRAIN SHOW IN MAY The Museum will host the 3rd annual Spring Train Show during the weekend of May 17 and 18 between the hours of 10 AM and 5 PM both days. Steve Barkley, event chair and member of the Board of Directors, has spent a lot of time preparing for the show, including rounding up vendors to display their wares, and model railroad clubs to set up scale layouts ranging from G to Z. Engine cab and caboose rides will be offered both days during the event. In addition, the Anacapa car, not normally open to the public, will be opened for tours.

The Museum has made every attempt to ensure a large turnout. In addition to placing advertisements in local newspapers, the Museum purchased a mailing list of 10,000 names who have attended train shows in the Houston area. The mailing list was purchased from the GATS and the show that was held at the Astro Arena last year. So mark the dates on your calendar and be sure not to miss a great event.

MEET STEVE LETBETTER, NEWEST MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS Steve is a native of San Saba, Texas. He earned a Batchelor of Arts in accounting from Texas A&M University in 1970, then began his professional career as a CPA, working at Haskins & Sells, a Houston-based accounting firm. He joined Houston Light & Power in 1974 as assistant secretary and assistant treasurer. He moved through the ranks, and held several management and executive positions between the 1970s and 1990s, finally being promoted to CEO. He resigned as chairman, president and chief executive officer from Reliant Energy in April 2003 At the time of his promotion to CEO, Houston Industries was completing a merger with NorAm Energy Corporation to become the third-largest gas and electric utility company combination in the world. He headed the merger and oversaw the operations of the three new divisions created within the company: HI Power Generation, HI Retail Energy Group, and HI Trading and Transportation Group. He continued to create new

divisions, such as HIPG Development in 1998, to increase and commercialize assets that could generate power and profits. During his tenure at Houston Light & Power and its parent company, Houston Industries, he helped the company improve from a local energy company to the international energy supplier and provider of energy services and marketing known as Reliant Energy. He was a leader in his company and was known for helping the company develop a strategy that contributed to its successful expansion. He also helped change the overall approach of the energy business. Steve and his wife Paula have made significant donations to the Lowry Mays College and Graduate School of Business at Texas A&M University, and received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the same institution. Steve and Paula have two sons and five grandchildren.

MUSEUM BENEFACTORS The Railroad Museum has many benefactors. Recent services have been provided at no charge to the Museum by the following: J & J Telecommunications of Galveston who provided repairs to the telephone system. Toby Thoresen of Village Hardware who provided a box of square nuts for the restoration of the stock car. Board Member, George Williamson and American National Insurance Company of Galveston who provided a new phone system and telephones Jim Stephenson of New Horizon Communications who installed the new telephone system in the Museum’s offices and gift shop.

DID YOU KNOW…….. That back in the old days, that a rail car could be moved by an engine that was not on the same track as the car? As you inspect older railcars at the Museum, you will note circular indentations on each corner of the car body. These indentations are called poling pockets. Before the practice was outlawed, crews would remove a wooden pole, usually carried under the tender body,

place one end in a car’s pocket, and one end in the engine’s pocket, and the engine would move the car along an adjacent track. Why was this practice banned, you ask….. because the poles occasionally snapped, injuring the crew member holding it to keep it in the pocket.


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 reached by email or telephone at the Museum: galvrrmuseum@sbcglobal.net or 409/765-5700. Leave your name and a contact number. Get involved. Check out the types of jobs listed below and see which ones interest you! Archives Volunteer: Assist with cataloguing and care of materials located in the Museum’s archives. Create new displays of artifacts. Some prior experience helpful. Times needed: weekdays and weekends. Docent: Conduct guided tours of the Museum grounds and watch over Museum displays. A one-day training session to familiarize the docent with railroad history and the Museum equipment and grounds is required prior to beginning tours. Times needed: weekdays and weekends. Education Volunteer: Assist Larry Highley in presenting educational material to merit badge classes, Pullman Parties, and school groups. Should enjoy interacting with children ages 4 through 17. A one-day training session to familiarize the volunteer with railroad history and the Museum grounds and equipment is required. Availability year around is a plus. Grounds Volunteer: Assist cutting grass, and planting, flowers, and picking up trash training is available if needed. fit your schedule.

the groundskeeper with watering and weeding and leaves. On the job Times needed: flexible to

Publicity Volunteer: Generate publicity notices for local newspapers and provide copy to same. Assist in keeping the Museum’s mailing list for special events and newsletter mailings up to date. Assist in preparing and mailing newsletters. Times needed: flexible to fit your schedule.

THE RAILROAD MUSEUM’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS Mr. Steve Barkley Dr. John Bertini Mr. Tommy Blackburn Mr. Ken Douglas Mr. Patrick Henry Mr. Steve Letbetter Mr. Doug Poole Mr. Bobby Theriot Mr. George Williamson

Model Railroad Volunteer: Assist Stephen Duncan keep the model railroad display in Theater 4 running by cleaning tracks, engine and railcar wheels, replacing worn out parts, and keeping structures on the layout clean. Also act as a docent and answer questions from visitors while working on the layout. On the job training available if needed. Times needed: flexible to fit your schedule. Rolling Stock Maintenance Volunteer: Assist in restoration, conservation and maintenance of rail cars and engines. Includes painting, woodworking, and upholstering, as well as metal, mechanical, and electrical work. Should have suitable work clothes and work shoes. Safety equipment can be provided. Times needed: weekends and weekdays. Way and Track Volunteer: Assist in railway track maintenance and in keeping the Museum yard and right of way clear of weeds and grass. Should enjoy heavy work. Should have suitable work clothes and work boots. Safety equipment can be provided. Times needed: weekends and weekdays. Conductor. Assist with passenger control during rides on Saturdays. Must be able to repeatedly climb on and off the engine or caboose. Special Events Volunteer: Assist the Museum staff during events such as the annual train show, or the Artrain visit that occurs on an infrequent basis. Volunteers need only to enjoy interacting with the public: Times needed: during special events.

THE RAILROAD MUSEUM’S ADVISORY BOARD Dr. Stephen Duncan Ms. Joyce Dundee Mr. Jim Earthman Dr. Don Harper Mr. J. W. Kelso Mr. Doug Matthews Mr. George Mitchell Dr. Tom Nichols Ms. Maureen Patton

Mr. Meyer Reiswing Mr. Phil Scheps Mr. Ralph Stenzel Mr. Jim Stephenson Mr. Toby Thoresen Mr. Ray Wells


Galveston Island Railroad Museum & Terminal 123 Rosenberg Galveston, TX 77550 409-765-5700 www.galvestonrrmuseum.com


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