Newsletter v8 No 1 2009

Page 1

RAILROAD TIES NEWSLETTER OF THE GALVESTON ISLAND RAILROAD MUSEUM AND TERMINAL February 2009

VOLUME 8 - ISSUE 1

HURRICANE IKE VISITED THE MUSEUM The Railroad Museum was humming along nicely, on track to have the best year in many years. Then came Hurricane Ike. If you followed Ike’s progress you know he originated out in the Atlantic, crossed the Dominican Republic, skirted Cuba then entered the Gulf of Mexico. Initially thought to be heading for South Texas, Ike made a right turn, but not enough of a right turn, and slammed into Galveston Island, with the eye passing right over the historical district. Landfall was 0210 on 10 September. Ike’s path closely matched that of the Great 1900 Galveston hurricane that came ashore 108 years and 2 days before Ike. Now remember Ike was a Category 2 storm. Hurricane Alicia that crossed the Island in 1983 was a minimal Category 3 storm and came ashore down the

coast at the Sea Isle development, putting downtown Galveston in the deadly right front quadrant of the storm. But there was relatively little wind damage or flood damage from Alicia compared with Ike. Although Ike was a Category 2 storm, its size (a diameter of 500 miles) generated the storm surge of a Category 4 storm. Most of the Island was flooded. At the Museum, Morris Gould, volunteers and staff battened down the Museum as best they could. Engine 1303 was moved to the highest rails in the yard. But the storm surge was greater than expected. Water was 5.5 feet deep in the Museum offices. Water was over 8 feet in the rail yards. Water covered the cab floor of engine 1303. There are no photos of the flood in the Museum - only photos of the aftermath.

THE AFTERMATH And some aftermath it was. By the time Morris was allowed on the Island mold had already taken hold in the buildings. The flood brought in mud, and in the mud were bacteria that generated hydrogen sulfide after the water receded. That, plus the mold that began growing on everything, made it hazardous to enter the buildings without respirators. Everything that could float did - ties and debris were left on the deck outside the Museum offices. Much of the paper archives in the Museum offices were soaked and had to be discarded, although some materials were designated to be restored (see below). The tank cars were floated off their trucks. The whale belly tank car floated out of the yard and came to rest on its side in the Shearn Moody parking lot.

Sandi Cobb pointing to the waterline (8’ 2”) on the Southern Pacific rail diesel car.

Debris left by the Museum office

Ties and debris littering the yard by the Silver Hours


Entrance to the Museum offices being aired out. Mud covered Garden of Steam

Mold growing on Sandi Cobb’s desk.

Ghosts of travelers past where Ike left them.

Plants around the fountain killed by salt water.

The Peoples’ Gallery after the water went down

Carl Hallows indicating the height of the flood (just over 7’) in the Theater Building

China cabinet in the People’s Gallery


Carl Hallows pointing to the height of the flood waters on the Anacapa The newsstand/gift shop was essentially destroyed and had to be dismantled.

Tank cars lifted off their trucks and floated before settling down askew (note the coyote tracks in mud) Debris littering the gift shop floor.

The trashed HO-scale model of the Port of Galveston.

The newly refurbished ATSF tank car off its truck and resting against the Texas Limited.

Display items set out to dry in the Museum yard.

The semaphore was twisted and bent by the wind


Debris left behind on the Silver Hours tablecloths.

The whale belly tank car on its side in the Shearn Moody Plaza parking lot.

Sinks in the Robert E. Lee with flood debris still on, and in, them.

The whale belly tank car trucks stayed where they were on Track 4.

Chairs where they came to rest in the vestibule of the Robert E. Lee after the water subsided.


As you can see, the Museum was not a pretty sight when Morris and the volunteers arrived to begin assessing damage. Most of the freight cars, with the exception of the tank cars being off their trucks, faired well and can be repaired. 1303 and the other diesel engines were flooded by water high enough that they are not repairable. Some of the passenger coaches may have to be scrapped. The Anacapa car, a prized possession, had the interior mahogany panels warped by the water. Preliminary damage assessment, however, has determined that the Anacapa fared well enough that it can be restored. Interior of the maintenance shop.

THE RECOVERY As soon as allowed, Morris, his staff, Victor Garcia, Sandi Cobb and Betty Morris, and volunteers, especially Carl and Sam Hallows, and our engineman, Ray Wells, went to work. Carl brought in a backhoe with a front scraper blade, cleaned mud off the surface of the parking lot, and piled it on the sidewalk by the front entrance to the Museum for the workers contracted by the City of Galveston to pick up.

Center in Houston. NASA was contacted, and shortly after the storm, Doug Hamilton and Terry Guess arrived at the Museum, packed up books in the library, and took them to NASA for treatment. Doug and Terry are shown below wearing masks to protect them from the mold in the office as they extract materials to be preserved.

Doug Hamilton and Terry Guess collecting books and artifacts for preservation Mound of mud scraped from the parking lot, and material that had to be discarded.

The items were taken outside in tubs and given an initial “bath” to get rid of some of the mud and bacteria. The containers were then loaded into a van and taken to the NASA facility in Houston where they were put in the vacuum chamber to be treated.

Pile of ruined and discarded items outside the Museum fence. Board Chair Dr. John Bertini learned that NASA had a vacuum chamber device that was used after Tropical Storm Allison (1990) to rescue books at the Medical

Doug and Terry “washing” the rescued materials.


Meanwhile, staff and volunteers tackled the chore of cleaning the china and silver collection, some of which had been on display, but much of which was in the archive collection. China expert, Dr. Tom Nichols took the china home to clean and inspect. Sandi Cobb, Betty Morris and Ray Wells spent a lot of time washing the silver.

Karen Bertini , who is real life is a nurse, gave all the volunteers and staff tetanus shots, provided by her and Dr. John Bertini.

Karen Bertini preparing a tetanus shot.

Dr. Tom Nichols with silver being removed for cleaning.

Sandi Cobb, Betty Morris & Ray Wells washing, drying & packing china, glassware & silver.

Silver being cleaned and set out to dry.

Karen Bertini washed the linen tablecloths and polished silverware. Michael Ward removed the model railroad cars and buildings and he and his son took them to NASA to clean .

Michael Ward and son carefully washing and restoring model trains in a room furnished by NASA.

Cleaned model railroad items stored at NASA.


John von Briesen walked the tracks to be sure they were in good shape and capable of supporting rail traffic. He also repaired the switch that was damaged when vandals tried to steal the switch stand mechanism last year, and replaced the switch ties.

The Galveston County Drainage District 1 generously donated the use of their Posi Track, trailer and truck to assist with the cleanup. Volunteers Joseph Maytum and Jason Rose loaded crossties and other debris scattered about the tracks, concourses, and yards onto the forks of the Posi Track. The Drainage District's Manager and Museum's volunteer extraordinaire, Carl Hallows, operated the Posi Track. The ties were reassembled in stacks out in the yard. Other debris was piled outside the Museum fence, to be picked up by the City. Clearing debris from the yard was one of the most time consuming aspects of the clean up.

John von Briesen working on the damaged switch. Joseph Maytum pressure washed the men’s room which was then used for a temporary storage room. Then he and Carl Hallows pressure washed the Missouri Pacific transfer caboose inside and out.

Jason Rose and Joseph Maytum load crossties that floated onto the concourse between Tracks 4 and 5 onto the Posi Track forks.

Using the Posi Track to clean ties out of the west entrance to the Museum.

Joseph Maytum washes, and Carl Hallows sweeps, Missouri Pacific caboose 13895.

Former Executive Director, Ralph Stenzel, helped go through the Library books that had not gone under water and moved them, and some of the projector equipment, into the Silver Hours for storage. Ronnie Pereida and his brother in law, Fred Rodriguez volunteered to take the Fairmont motor car to restore it.


Mary Cerimele inside the NASA vacuum chamber Professional clean up crews were hired to do much of the grounds cleaning. Here they are washing down the area around Waco, Beaumont, Trinity and Sabine locomotive #1, outside the Museum offices.

NASA worker preparing an electrical connection inside the vacuum chamber.

Ronnie Pereida (checkered shirt) from Victoria and his brother-in-law Fred Rodriguez from Freeport, have volunteered to restore/repair the museum's Fairmont S-2 motorcar. Here they, and Victor Garcia, pose with the motorcar on a trailer.

Morris Gould holding a 100-year old Southern Pacific journal that was saved by the NASA vacuum chamber.

Ronnie Pereida and the motorcar ready to be taken off to be repaired. The most recent good news event occurred when Morris Gould and Board Member George Williamson went to NASA to retrieve the paper materials from the vacuum chamber. It appears that the items taken to the chamber survived the submersion with relatively little, if any, damage.

George Williamson and Morris Gould (center) surrounded by the NASA vacuum chamber staff.


For the time being, until the office building has walls, power and the other amenities of civilization restored, the Museum offices are in the Silver Hours car. The library is in a baggage car, and some of the saved files are in the Northern Pacific box car.

Library books being stored in the baggage car

Sandi Cobb mounting and cataloguing photographs in the Silver Hours.

Ghosts of Travelers Past being stored in one of the cars.

File drawers being stored in the Northern Pacific box car

THE FUTURE There is no question that the Museum took a major hit from Hurricane Ike, as did all of Galveston. But Galvestonians have made a habit of acting like a phoenix - rising from the ashes to create a new entity. For those of you not familiar with the 1900 storm, Galvestonians rallied and recreated a heavily damaged town and got the famous seawall built to protect the city from the battering waves of future storms. The seawall did its job, but the flooding occurred from the bay side of the Island. As described above, insurance monies have been received that covered the cost of the commercial clean

up crews. As this is being written, members of the Federal Emergency Management Administration are making plans to visit the Museum to assess damage and determine what funding can be forthcoming. So, to our valued and loyal supporters, despair not. The Museum WILL be back. The dedicated staff and absolutely wonderful volunteers will make sure of that. Be sure to frequently check the Museum’s web site: www.galvestonrrmuseum.com/ for updates on progress being made to bring the Museum back to its former glory.


To our valued members and supporters It has been four months since Hurricane Ike made landfall and impacted all of us. We at the Museum hope that your routines have resumed normalcy given the trying conditions many of us have experienced. I am sure that you have questions regarding the future of the Museum. I am pleased to inform you that during the Board of Directors’ first recovery meeting to create a plan of action, Chairman of the Board, Dr. John Bertini, announced that we will rebuild. The Museum contacted advisory Board Member, Doug Matthews. Long time members may recall that Doug is a past Chairman of the Board and has always on board for the prosperity of the Museum. He is now using his expertise to assist us in the fund-raising process for the Museum’s recovery. We have had a kick-off meeting with FEMA. Nine members from FEMA attended this meeting to inform the Museum staff of the various aspects and procedures necessary to participate in this program. We have been assigned FEMA representatives to work with us through the course of this process. Our first step of action is to document and complete a detailed list of damages and losses to the Museum’s buildings and rolling stock. This will be a lengthy endeavor. Our first walk through of the Museum with the FEMA representatives occurred on 22 January. They were shocked and dismayed at the damage that the Museum sustained. The first assessments included the West Ticket Office and administrative office building, and also the theatre building which housed our model train displays, railroad dining collections and exhibits. Everything in these buildings that was ruined by mold and water damage will be replaced. The FEMA personnel then toured several of the rare, irreplaceable rail cars that we have selected to restore. I was apprehensive because of the high cost of restoration. As I explained some of the options available for us, restoration vs. replacement, the FEMA historical representative for our recovery explained to me that the historical aspects weigh heavily in the decision of funding for restoration. As you know, the Museum has quite a collection of “one of a kind” cars, including a car (the Anacapa) that Presidents of the United States have occupied. Some of the losses that the Museum incurred are the O- and HO-scale train layouts. These will be replaced when we rebuild. However, most archives, including pictures, scrapbooks, mementos and memorabilia from personal collections were ruined and are irreplaceable. As the words of our devastation spread, I received phone calls from concerned families inquiring whether or not their valued donations to the Museum survived. In most cases, I was extremely sorry to have to inform them that their gift was lost due to flood and mold damages. I can relate to these feelings, as I lost some of my Father’s memories as well. My condolences go out to you. On the plus side, following this disaster we have received numerous phone calls from individuals, families and Museums that have offered to donate personal items for displays and exhibits. In this newsletter, there are many photographs of our members and volunteers performing the difficult task of restoring the Museum’s grounds to some state of order. The pictures do not give justice to the environment that these members and volunteers endured during their efforts. My profuse thanks goes out to each and every one of you for the thousand plus volunteer hours, generous donations and renewed memberships that we have received since Hurricane Ike’s landfall.. Your involvement with the Museum has positive impacts for the Museum in many different ways. During the meetings and conversations that I have had with the various granting agencies, they have acknowledged how fortunate the Museum is to have such a dedicated base of members and volunteers. Your commitment also has a direct impact on our status within the community. On 15, September, I was able to visit the Island and I videotaped some of the damages that had occurred at the Museum and Scholes Field caused by Ike’s wrath. Our plan is to transfer this video to DVD and make a copy available as a thank you to you for your continued support and membership in the Museum. I am looking forward to visiting with you upon our reopening and will keep you informed on the Museum’s progress through future newsletters as well as on our web site.

Morris S. Gould Executive Director Galveston Railroad Museum


The Galveston Railroad Museum could not have accomplished the many things that have been done without the kind and generous help of all of those listed below, be they donors, volunteers, staff, or all of the above. We truly thank each one. The Museum thanks the following for their kind and generous donations. Doug Albrecht, La Marque, TX Chris Bertini, Galveston, TX Dr. John Bertini, Houston, TX BORN Rail Products, Indianapolis, IN Ken Douglas, Houston, TX The Garden Inn, Galveston, TX Gulf Coast Chapter, Lone Star Division, Houston, TX Don & Carol Harper, New Wilmington, PA The Helmle Shaw Foundation, Houston, TX Houston Area G Gaugers, Katy, TX David and Annette Ingram, Bristow, VA Carol Jones, Houston, TX

Mid-Continent Railway Museum, N. Freedom, WI NASA, Houston, TX Roy Penman, Valparaiso, FL Kathleen Person, Temple, TX Jim Stephenson, Houston, TX Lorena Stevens, Houston, TX Denise Taller, Dickinson, TX Robert Wagner, Houston, TX Col. Clifford Way, Dallas, TX Henry Wheeler, Houston, TX Neil & Gloria Wildeboor, Nashville, TN George Williamson, Galveston, TX

The Museum thanks the following for their volunteer efforts. Jo Arena, League City, TX Jason Barnett, Galena Park, TX Karen Bertini, Houston, TX James Campbell, Houston, TX Dr. Stephen Duncan, Galveston, TX Vance & Janell Gabryszwski, Houston, TX Gloria Gould, La Marque, TX Terry Guess, Houston, TX Carl Haglund, Galveston, TX Sam & Carl Hallows, Santa Fe, TX Dr. Doug Hamilton, Seabrook, TX Sharon Hernadez, La Marque, TX

Joseph Maytum, Houston, TX Frank Mohler, Houston, TX Dr. Tom Nichols, Houston, TX Ronnie Pereida, Freeport, TX Fred Rodrigues, Freeport, TX Jason Rose, Spring, TX Ralph Stenzel, Santa Fe, TX Jon Von Briesen, Houston, TX Jim Stephenson, Houston, TX Michael Ward, Seabrook, TX Ray Wells, Santa Fe, TX

The Museum thanks the following staff members for their continuous and loyal dedication. Morris S. Gould, Executive Director Sandi Cobb, Marketing Director, Events Coordinator Betty Morris, Gift Shop Manager


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

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