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HDC News 2017

News Updates - 2017

January 2017
By Ron Dukarm

ARCHIVE COLLECTIONS - We continue to expand our archive collections and library. We now have over 6,000 square feet devoted to storing all the artifacts, books and photographs in our collection. Last month we were offered 4 skids of several thousand railroad movies from the Federal Railroad Administration in Pueblo, Colorado. These are from the 1970's and 1980's and will soon be arriving at the museum. We also received 4 boxes of hundreds of blue prints of PRR rail cars. The Erie Lackawanna Historical Society is more than doubling their space as their archive collection is expanding now that they have a permanent home at HDC. Soon they plan to staff their site so their collection will be accessible to the public. The Buffalo Irish Genealogy Society has over 30,000 RR employees entered into our data bases and is ready to add another 20,000. We have erected more shelving in the library and now have maxed out our space. We have had to take half the space from our confer-ence room to house new collections. We have received several grants for the library and are being considered for a major grant to allow interns to assist in archival activities.

BUILD IT - AND THEY WILL COME - This old adage is very true. In the past month we have been offered 5 historic rail cars - a burro crane, three flat cars and a PRR coal hopper. Archive collections constantly come in the doors. The Steel Plant Museum, the Erie Lackawanna Historical Society, the Buffalo Irish Genealogy Society and the Nickel Plate Society are all experiencing the same effect. All groups have asked for more space. In the case of rail cars, our ability to accept cars is limited more by funding than by space. Moving a car can run from $5,000 to $10,000. If you are interested in helping us save some of these historic cars and can fund these moves, please contact us.

CAMPUS ACTIVITIES - This past year we logged 6,441 hours of volunteer time devoted to the Heritage Discovery Center. This must be considered in light of the thousands of hours devoted to our other four sites at Williamsville Depot, Orchard Park Depot, our rail car excursions at the Medina Railroad Museum and our locomotive restoration activities in Hamburg, not to mention our two Train Shows. Many hours are devoted to maintaining our nine buildings, nearly 50,000 square feet of space and 20 acres of land at HDC. All this is done by volunteers. Now we are planning to install a new HVAC system in the Don Owens Center and are planning a major private sector investment in 10 acres of our property. The ELHS is planning a major investment in the Hospital Building. The new year looks to be a very busy one with major projects on the horizon.


February 2017
By Ron Dukarm

COMMUNITY OUTREACH - The Heritage Discovery Center continues to host local community events and has become the meeting place for all of our affiliate partners.
  • WNYRHS BOARD MEETING - 2/2/17 - The WNYRHS Board of Trustees held their monthly planning meeting and held their election of officers.
  • YACHT MEETING - 2/16/17 - HDC hosted the quarterly meeting of the China Light Yacht Club.
  • ELHS MEETING - 2/16/17 - The Erie Lackawanna Historical Society Archive Committee held their first organizing meeting.
  • OSC MEETING - 2/16/17 - Joe and Don met with Ontario Specialty Contracting concerning a potential land lease and sale.
DONATIONS - We have received the following donations of artifacts and supplies. Our sincere thanks to all our loyal supporters:
  • Federal Railroad Administration - donated thousands of railroad films from the Federal Railroad Administration test site in Pueblo, Colorado and will be a valuable addition to our archives. On 2/14/17, our Director of Collections, Stephen Kocsis helped unload the donation to the Society's library. The four pallets of movie film were delivered to the museum and unloaded to be placed in the Archive Storage Building. We also want to thank ABF Freight for the donation of the transportation of the nearly 4,000 pounds of movie film from Colorado to Buffalo.


  • Emil Walerko - donated 5 Walthers catalogs from various years, Howell Day "Red Ball" Cataloge, "The Brass Train Guide Book" by Dan Glasure, A 12 Volume set of - "The Next Station Will Be," "Horse Drawn Commercial Vehicles" by Dan Berkebile, "Railroad Currency" by John Muscalus, "Locomotive Quarterly" Vol II Number 1, "Erie Railroad, Rochester Division" by William Reed Gordon, "King Coal" by Stan Cohen, autographed by Stan, "Railroad Days" by Louis C. Langone and a reproduction of "The Erie Railways and its Branches" by Henry F. Walling. Thank You Emil!

WORK ACCOMPLISHED
  • HOUSEKEEPING - 2/16/17 - Barb and Tony did surface cleaning. Barb delivered items for the Train Show. Barb also had keys made up for the ELHS Archive Committee.

  • ARCHIVE BUILDING - 2/14/17 - Ron and Nestor picked up propane for our forklift. Marty got the forklift started. Steve operated forklift and took 4 pallets of Railroad films off the ABF tractor trailer. Nestor, Tony, Marty and Steve placed films in Archive Building.

  • LIBRARY - 2/14/17 - Pat, John and Bob worked on library projects.
    2/4/16 - Ed worked on Erie RR personnel records. Barb O. and Bob C. started painting Don's office.


  • March 2017
    By Joe Kocsis

             This year is shaping up to be very busy with several long-awaited projects planned to bring to completion over the summer. Late last year we received a RFP from a very respected local developer and we are in the process of finalizing the agreements with them. We hope to be able to formally announce our participation in this joint venture later this month. There is a tremendous amount of development occurring within a short distance of our museum site and now we will be able to become part of the renaissance of this neighborhood. The project on our parcel along the Buffalo River will include a restaurant and up to 150,000 square feet of new warehousing and light manufacturing buildings. Once the agreements are finalized, we will be able to make a formal announcement. The deal is expected to provide the Society and museum with a continuing revenue stream over the next 20 years. Our project, along with the other neighborhood development initiatives, will certainly bring added attention to the Heritage Discovery Center.

    Additional projects planned for this year are to move our donated 90-ton crane to the site within the next month or so and use it to place the five cars now at the HDC onto the display track. We will need to build an additional 40 feet of track to accommodate our two boxcars, tank car, and two cabooses. In addition, the HVAC work on the Don Owens Center will be completed by May 1st as well, finally solving our persistent roof leaks through the rusted-out 34 year old rooftop unit. We will also be working to correct our parking lot drainage issues once the backhoe is returned from repairs. As a result of the development deal, we will be losing some valuable storage space for the Society, however we are currently getting quotes on a building to be built behind the museum to replace this lost storage and plan to begin construction later this summer.

    COMMUNITY OUTREACH - The Heritage Discovery Center continues to host local community events and has become the meeting place for all of our affiliate partners.
    • STEEL PLANT MUSEUM - 1st WEDNESDAY EVENT - 3/1/17 - Bill Donohue, a local author, spoke about Buffalo and the Civil War. Mr. Donohue imagined the lives of his great grandfather and great uncle, veterans of the Civil War.
    • WNYRHS BOARD MEETING - 3/2/17 - The WNYRHS Board of Trustees held their monthly planning meeting and held their election of officers.
    • WNYRHS PUBLIC MEETING - 3/16/17 - The WNYRHS held their March Public Meeting. Society member, Geno Dailey, gave a well received program covering a personal record-breaking 11 train Amtrak trip he completed in September 2016. The trip covered rides on the The Lake Shore Limited (3x), City Of New Orleans, Crescent (2x), Piedmont, Carolinian, North-east Regional, Pennsylvanian, and Capitol Limited!
    WORK ACCOMPLISHED
    • DISPLAYS -3/26/17 - As CSX continues its signal modernization program, most of the remaining former New York Central signals are being removed from service and scrapped.

      Fortunately, CSX gave us the opportunity to save the nearly 90 year-old Cantilever Signal Bridge at CP434 located along Broadway near Harlem Road if we could move it off railroad property the day it was removed. This signal was installed along with about 300 other signals by the NYC between 1919 and 1929. The bridge itself was made most likely by International Steel Company out of Youngstown, Ohio and the signal heads were originally General Railway Signal type 2A Semaphores and later replaced by GRS type SA Searchlight heads around 1939.

      CSX Transportation generously donated the signal bridge to the Society for display at the Heritage DiscoveRY Center Buffalo and on Sunday March 26th, the signal was taken out of service and removed.   Clark Rigging out of Lockport, was hired by CSX to remove all the signal bridges from MP429 to MP434 that Sunday. The bridge was removed in one piece and then dismantled into two sections to be trucked to the museum by Symans Enterprises  owned by Scott Symans. (0-4-0 Baldwin Locomotive - Viscose #6)
    The Clark Rigging crews started at 4:30am down at MP429. Unfortunately, CSX continued to run freight and Amtrak™ trains on their regular schedule which really slowed down the removal process. It was not until 3:00pm that Clark Rigging had their Terex 350 ton Crane ready to go. Fortunately WNYRHS president Joe Kocsis was able to put in a 12 hr day to capture the action.

    Once the rigging chains were in place the Clark torch crew started cutting off the six 2" bolts that held the bridge to its base. At 5:45pm the lift began as the huge crane swung the bridge over six tracks (over 100 feet) to the service road where the bridge would be disassembled and loaded onto the Symans trucks.

    With the signal on the other side of the "Eastbound Runner," a 3rd set of cables were added to allow the crane operator to tip the bridge onto its back. When it was safely on the ground with the 37 foot bridge sticking straight up, the torch crews went to work removing the many rivets that held the two sections together.

    Joe from Clark Rigging was a wizard with his torch and did a great job separating the two huge sections with no damage to the gusset plates.  Scott Symans and his partner Terry brought two trucks. The "bridge" section was loaded first onto Scott's flatbed trailer. He then pulled up so that the base section could be loaded onto his "low boy" trailer.

    The signal masts on the bridge section were too tall to transport on the flatbed trailer. Once again, Joe from Clark Rigging did a great job of removing the four mounting bolts, electrical cable and braces from both masts so they could be laided flat. It was getting near 9:00pm when the trucks arrived safely at the HDC.

    The scale in the cab of the Terex 350 ton crane registered 39,800 pounds when the whole signal was lifted. With each section of signal weighing just under 10 tons there was concern that unloading the trailers could be problem. Thankfully, Marty L. and Adam P. who patiently waited at the museum, found a way to safely unload both sections.

    Now that the signal is at the museum, we have a lot of work cut out for us. We are now looking for donations to help defray the trucking costs and restoration the signal. This will require that a substantial concrete base be poured, sandblasting and painting. So we are looking to raise funds for the concrete work and the reassembly of the two pieces.

    If you want to help out with the project, please send a check payable to WNYRHS Inc., 100 Lee Street, Buffalo, NY 14210. Or use the PayPal button below to make a safe and secure donation through Paypal. Just indicate that your donation is for the "Signal Project". Every dollar donated will go directly to getting this "gateway" reassembled, erected and illuminated again. THANK YOU!


    April 2017
    By Ron Dukarm

    COMMUNITY OUTREACH - The Heritage Discovery Center continues to host local community events and has become the meeting place for all of our affiliate partners.
    • STEEL PLANT MUSEUM - 1st WEDNESDAY EVENT - 4/5/17 - Shane E. Stephenson, a local author, presented selections from his book, "Buffalo's East Side Industry." A great time was had by all.
    • WNYRHS TRUSTEES MEETING - 4/6/17 - The WNYRHS Board of Trustee's held their monthly meeting.
    • GATHERING OF THE CLANS - 4/15/17 - The Buffalo Irish Genealogy Society held a public seminar on how to research one's genealogy. Our meeting room was full of interested individuals listening to BIGS President Ed Patton and he described research techniques. This session was followed up with an open house in our Library where folks got hands-on experience researching on our computers.
    • HDC BOARD MEETING - 4/20/17 - The HDC held their monthly business meeting.
    • GARAGE SALE - 4/22/17 - Joe, Leslie, Cheryl, Chris, Don and Barb set up tables, assisted vendors and sold refreshments. Later, they oversaw clean-up. It was a very successful event and well attended.
    • SCHOOL TOUR - 4/27/17 - Two school buses of youngsters toured the museum.

    DONATIONS - We have received the following donations of artifacts and supplies. Our sincere thanks to all our loyal supporters:
    • Ron Dukarm - donated 10 gallons of gasoline and large pack of toilet paper. Thank You Ron!
    • Emil Walerko - donated several boxes of RR items totaling several hundred items (coins, books, postcards, etc). Thank You Emil!

    WORK ACCOMPLISHED
    • BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS - 4/27/17 - Nestor cut front and back lawns and he also weed-wacked the fence line. Tony took out more trash to dumpster and trash was picked up today. Barb worked with Verizon on our phone problem. We still get other vendor calls on #61 line.

    • HOUSEKEEPING - 4/27/17 - Barb did dishes and general cleaning.

    • ARCHIVE BUILDING - 4/27/17 - Mike and his crew drilled electrical access holes in Achieve Building roof and installed rubber boots for line connections. Ed met with electrical contractor and planned the work to replace the main power line on the Archive Building roof. National Grid was alerted to do a power-down and tenants were informed about work next week.

    • LIBRARY - 4/27/17 - Several BIGS members were in and worked on data input.

    Contact Us: Orchard Park - 716-662-7002       Williamsville - 716-633-7002
    WNYHDC Inc., 100 Lee Street, Buffalo, New York  14210 - 716-821-9360
    All Donations to the Heritage Discovery Center are Tax-Deductable!

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    This page was last updated April 29th, 2017

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