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Williamsville Depot 2016

by Hal Douglass

December - January
         The construction and restoration season has come to an end for 2015. The water is off, and the bathroom fixtures drained in the unheated restroom. The building has new locks on the doors, and the back door now opens easily, thanks to Mark Klepadlo. Tom Stackhouse changed the passcode for the lock box, and members of the Williamsville Depot Leadership group have been informed of the changes.

Our Christmas Dinner was held in December at the Cleveland Heights Christian Church on Union Road just south of Cleveland Drive. Again, it was a success! This dinner has been held for the past several years to thank those who have worked on the restoration of the Williamsville Depot and their guests. This year, gifts were presented to Don Boyd and Art Toale, who are stepping back from their leadership roles, for their outstanding efforts toward keeping the restoration effort progressing from the Lehigh Valley Railroad Depot project to a true railroad restoration and historic site.

In the late fall, the concrete bases for the piers of the deck were poured, and they now sit ready to receive the supports for the replaced loading dock that will wrap around the east end of the building. The construction of the loading dock is the first item of restoration for the spring, and it will also serve as a stage for the Homewood Players, who will be bring their productions to the depot this coming summer. One play will be presented at the Cleveland Heights Christian Church following our annual fund-raising   "Spaghetti Dinner"   for the depot, providing a true "Dinner and Show" experience. This is scheduled for Saturday, April 9th, 2016.

At our December meeting, the Steering Committee set tentative dates for activities for the New Year. In 2016, there should be two events at the Williamsville depot almost every month from April through October. Details of these events, designed to bring more people to the Lehigh Valley Depot and Trail along the right-of-way, and to increase local awareness of the Depot's historic importance to the Village of Williamsville, will be included in our "Along the Trail" articles in future issues of the "Railway Flyer."

The Steering Committee is always looking for new members interested in the restoration of the Lehigh Valley depot site, particularly among those who live in the city of Buffalo, Cheektowaga or in the North Towns. We need people interested in working on the restoration projects and those who could assist with fund raising activities. Come join us! Contact Marty Visciano ( or Tom Stackhouse ( and sign up!

January - February 2016
by Hal Douglass

         After a mild winter, the Depot Committee hopes to get started on the many projects scheduled for this year. First and foremost if the is construction of the loading dock on the east end of the depot, which will partially wrap around the northern and southern exposures as shown in early drawings and photographs. This will serve as a stage for most of the Homewood Theater original productions that Marty Bauer and his wife present each year.

         In the past, they have been presented in the Williamsville Village Hall. The first production for this year, "the Great Caboose Mystery" is scheduled on April 9th, will follow a  "Spaghetti Dinner"  that the Depot Committee is sponsoring at the Cleveland Hill Christian Church on Union Road . Tickets are available for the dinner, the theater production, or a combined discounted ticket for a dinner-theater evening. "The Great Caboose mystery will be presented again at the Williamsville Depot on South Long Street in Williamsville on April 22nd and 23rd, and also on April 29th and 30th, adjacent to the Lehigh Valley caboose on site. By that time, we plan to have at least the portion of the stage (loading dock) constructed on the east end of the station.

         On May 21st, there will again be a flea market, book sale and flower sale at the depot. This is our fourth year. Last year, the flower sale was particularly successful, while we continued to move a large number of books at "fire-sale" prices. This year, we plan to have more railfan and modelers items available.

         On February 29th, Tom Stackhouse spoke about the role of railroading in Williamsville's history. The presentation discussed the1896 construction of the Lehigh Valley depot, its decline under Conrail, its abandon-ment and the reconstruction and preservation effort of the Western New York Railway Historical Society through its Williamsville Depot Committee. The presentation concluded with a tour, and was well attended as it had been announced in advance in the Amherst Bee the week before.

The Depot Committee organized and staffed a Basket Raffle at the Winter Train Show to raise funds for the continued restoration efforts at the Williamsville Depot. There were well over 50 different prizes to take a chance on to win. It was reported that the basket raffle raised over $1,400 during the two days of the show. Thanks to all the members of the committee for all their efforts and hard work in making the basket raffle such a great success.

March - April 2016
by Hal Douglass

         The first event of this new year for the Williamsville Depot was the spaghetti dinner, held at the Cleveland Hill Christian Church. It was to be a dinner-theater combination event, but the star of the show, Marty Bauer, was ill. The dinner was a big success, and the meatballs were described as "great !" WNYRHS member Paul Mayer won the door prize, a basket of wines, and member George Specht won the split club.

         Committee member and volunteer Joyce Haskell adds this anecdote: "Connie Domedion and her daughter, Pat Szymanski, decided to attend our spaghetti dinner for the first time after hearing about it from Bob Lutot, one of our committee members. Although we had many new attendees, what makes her story unique is what happened to her just days before the event.

         "Connie had taken a fall and ended up in the hospital, and with no reports of broken bones, etc., she was sent home. Her Daughter, who lives with her, wasn't sure that her mother, who was excited about going, should go to the dinner because of her fall. When she spoke to her mother about not being able to go, her mother replied: "We are". And thus, at the age of 96, she walked into the Church with her daughter and sat down to enjoy her spaghetti dinner, which, by the way she said was "delicious".

         At the end of April, the only events scheduled were the Homewood Theater presentations on April 22 and 23, repeated again on April 29 and 30. For those who were disappointed because there was no theater after the dinner, these presentations provided more chances to see "the Great Caboose Mystery".

On April 12th, there was a work meeting to finalize the design of the loading dock/stage, and to again take measurements ("measure twice, cut once"). Comparison with photographs and an early drawing of the station when the loading dock was intact, proved this to be an important meeting before work was started. The drawings for the dock will be modified before wood is ordered.

On May 21st, we will hold our annual  "Flea Market & Book Sale"  including a repeat of the plant sale which was such a success last year. The hours are 8AM to 3PM. There are still a few flea market vendor spaces available. This year, we hope to have more railfan-oriented items available. By the time of the flea market, we hope to have the construction of the loading dock (and theater stage) well under way, so that visitors to the flea market can see how their participation is helping the preservation plan for the depot. The loading dock will have a ramp to platform level in front of the depot, and steps down in the back to track level on the east end of the building, as shown on original plans and in early photos.

May 2016
by Hal Douglass

         The first half of the summer started off with a bang. On the third weekend in May, the Village of Williamsville held a carnival in the nearby South Long Park. This was the same weekend as the scheduled Flea Market, Book and Plant Sale at the Williamsville Lehigh Valley Depot. We advertised our free parking spaces to carnival visitors. This filled our parking lot and allowed large numbers of visitors to pass by the Flea Market. Sales were up considerably as a result of this increased exposure.

         On May 21st vendors were at the Depot to set up their tables and displays. Although we had cool start by the afternoon the sky's had cleared and we had a high near 70'. We had crafts, plants, books, household items, furniture and even some railroadianna.

         As the dealers set up their tables at the Depot, the Village of Williamsville was busy getting their first "Williamsville Spring Fair" up and running. The event was created to draw awareness to the South Long Street area, which is being redesigned as a walkable neighborhood featuring small shops and townhomes. A carnival by Midway
Rides of Utica was sponsored by NATALE Development, was set up right next to the Depot. All the activity was not just outside as the inside of the Depot was the center of activity for the big "Book Sale" On Sunday, we returned to the depot to put everything away for another year (the flea market was to be a one-day event only), but with the parking lot full, we elected to reopen the flea market depot tables. Two of our vendors also returned (we did not charge for the space on the second day). The result was a profitable day for the depot and the vendors. Below are some photos of all the work the Williamsville Depot crew has accomplished over the years.

The carnival was a first time event, but was so successful, that the Village Officers promised to do it again next year. The Depot Committee decided it will hold the flea market again on the same weekend, but schedule it for both weekend days.

June - July 2016
by Hal Douglass

         On June 21st, the fourth annual Cruise Night at the Depot again featured a variety of antique, old reconditioned and modified cars with several new participants. Marty Bauer served as Master of Ceremonies. Another well attended event, with many attendees hungry for hot dogs, drinks and snacks sold by the Depot Committee.

          It appears now that the Lehigh Valley section house will be demolished, rather than be preserved and moved to the Depot site. The problem is asbestos in the insulation and around the plumbing. For us, the cost for abatement before the house could be moved would be insurmountable.

The land on which the section house stands, along with the Williamsville Department of Public Works and some adjacent properties, is scheduled for an upscale development. It was originally hoped that the section house could be moved to the Depot site for about the same amount as the cost of demolition to the developer, but now we know that is not the case. The driveway to the Public Works yard immediately behind the depot will become one of the major entrances into this development area, meaning that many more people will be passing the depot every day.

         The second half of the summer began with a "Touch a Truck" event on July 9th. South Long Street as it passes by the Depot, was blocked off by the Amherst Police to allow for the parking of large trucks that could not fit into the Depot driveway, and for emergency First Responder vehicles that might be called upon during the event. Trivia master Marty Bauer performed with "Boom Box DJ, Lil", Nancy Lutot.

Over 20 large and small trucks from local agencies and companies filled the Depot parking lot and South Long Street. Hundreds of young and old were able to view up close these unique vehicles that help keep our economy running. Representatives for each truck were on hand to answer question and give the "kids" a chance to take a turn at the wheel. We had many more first time visitors tour the Depot and they were given information about the Society.

This and other activities of this past summer have remarkably enhanced the awareness of the residents of the Town of Amherst and the Village of Williamsville to the presence of the Lehigh Valley Depot. Consider the fact that few if any of the more than 700 visitors (children and their parents) to the "Touch A Truck" event, had even been born when the last Conrail freight ran through the Village and by the Depot more than 40 years ago. Marty Visciano, who had brought the idea to the Depot Committee, was the organizer of this outstanding event. The turnout was nearly triple the number we had expected, sending Bob Lutot running to the store for more hot dogs and rolls.

On July 17th, an ice cream social was held to honor and thank our first responders. Ice cream was supplied by Sweet Jenny's Ice Cream, a Williamsville icon. Since first responders and their families received tickets in advance, only individuals who wished to participate but had no tickets were charged. "Music at the Depot" added to the enjoyment of neighbors, dog walkers and village residents walking the Lehigh Trail.

August 2016
by Hal Douglass

         During our Sunday Open House events in August, there was live music at the Depot provided by "Guys of Different Bands" from 1:00pm to 3:00pm each weekend. The Homewood Theater Group, led by Marty Bauer, presented another original production, "The Mystery on Telegraph Street" on Friday August 12, which filled the Depot to capacity. His subsequent presentations on August 13th, 19th and 20th were similarly well attended.

         We have started construction of the loading dock on the north end of the building. It will be similar to the one originally built by the Lehigh Valley but later removed perhaps by Conrail, and was our top restoration project for 2016. The reconstructed dock will serve as a stage for The Homewood Theater "al fresco" productions in the future.

This seemed like a relatively straight-forward project. Plans were drawn, based on original 1896 drawings of the structure and its loading dock. Then, reality occurred. Village engineering approval was required, ADA access requirements had to be met, and holes dug through the stone and gravel that surrounds the depot.

However, the plans we had drawn were insufficient so an architect would be required. Fortunately, Village Mayor Brian Kulpa, an architect, offered his services, while Larry Brenton, the former mayor of Williamsville and a Depot Committee member, arranged with Ben Vilonen, the Village Highway Department crew chief, for the digging of the holes to the architect's specifications in the revised plans.

With pier supports in place, it appeared to be time to build a deck. Not so fast! Closer examination of the lower portion of the wall on the north end reveled it had extensive decay, probably from snow piled up there after the original loading dock was removed. A 10" x 10" wood support beam in the corner was nearly 50% destroyed. And remember, this building was built when a 10 x 10 was actually 10" by 10" across! Supporting members and the lower portion of the wall were replaced by Mark Klepadlo and Marty Visciano. The new wall was caulked and painted. Since this entire area will be covered by the new loading dock (stage), there is little risk of further rot damage from snow accumulation in the future. Now it is finally time to build that loading dock!

September 2016
by Hal Douglass

After struggling through a maze of regulations, inspections, etc., the loading dock on the north end of the depot was finally built! As in the original drawings from 1896, the dock extends out beyond the overhang of the eaves. Perhaps this design was to prevent damage to the eaves when wagons and later trucks backed up to the dock to unload their wares and load newly arrived merchandise. The construction of the extensions in the
original design of the loading dock, wrapping around the sides of the building, will have to wait for next year. A platform extension, steps in the rear (east side) of the building and a ramp in front (west side) for the Railway Express wagon (and ADA compliance), will be added. A huge Thank You to our construction crew led by Mark Klepadlo, Marty Visciano , John Bond and Larry Brenton.

On September 16th, the Depot participated in the Williamsville Village's Octoberfest parade. Unfortunately, the hay-ride was essentially rained out after Marty Visciano was able to complete only three trips filled with riders. Thanks to Marty Visciano who provided the motive power for the hayride and the donors of cider and a wagon load of hay.

Great weather through most of September allowed the Depot Crew to finish north end of the loading dock. On September 24th, members of the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society were able to view the completed portion and also toured the Depot and our Lehigh Valley #95050 caboose. This was the first steel caboose made at the Sayre, Pennsylvania shops of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1937.

October 2016
by Hal Douglass

On October 1st we held a "Thank You" and mini fund raising event to kickoff the year-end Capital Fundraising Campaign for the Depot. Our volunteers at on the Depot Committee have a very ambitious project plan for 2017 in the works.

Mayor Brian Kulpa and the Williamsville Village Board were honored at the Fund event for emeritus support to the Depot. Depot Chairman Marty Visciano and Tom Stackhouse presented a plaque to Mayor Kulpa. Marty Visiano then spoke on the many projects planned for the depot in 2017. Afterward, light refreshements and appetizers were available inside the Depot.

         Our next major project is being developed in response to the expression to see an actual small train on the grounds by Mayor Kulpa and the Village of Williamsville Trustees. Amherst Supervisor, Dr. Barry Weinstein specifically mentioned the importance of the train having an engine (small). To this end, a promising 40 foot boxcar has been identified and inspected by John Bond, Mark Klepadlo, Marty Visciano Larry Brenton and Devan Lawton. It is currently owned by Winters Rigging in North Collins, New York.

The boxcar is currently painted green and is thought to be of Canadian National origin, which means it could very well have passed the Williamsville Depot on the Lehigh Valley numerous times. Winters will provide more complete information if the deal goes through. The price of the car and the cost to move it to our depot site are within the amounts we have raised this past summer. The purchase must still be approved by the Trustees of the WNYRHS, and we would really like to have it on the property before the snow flies.

This meant re-laying the segment of track that was previous laid, and then torn up due to safety concerns. Since we had both the requried amount of ties and rail, the extension to our display track has been completed.

         A cement cap for our "phone booth" (actually, a telegraph relay booth, since there were no telephones when the Williamsville Depot was built) has been donated by Ed McKee. One condition is that it be installed within one year from the time it arrives at the Depot, this should not be a problem.

Preparations are being made for our tables at the Society's 35th Annual Greater Buffalo Train and Toy Show on November 19th and 20th. We will finish out the year with a Holiday Season Party on December 8th (second Thursday). The party is held to thank our workers, donors and others who have played important roles in our progress during the year. The party will be held at the Cleveland Hill Christian Church on Union Road.

by Hal Douglass

         The Depot is shut down for the season but the Lehigh Memory Trail gets used during the winter months by many people. We decorated the Depot and the Caboose for the Holidays for everyone to enjoy.

         In the last WNYRHS Flyer, we mentioned the the possible purchase of a boxcar from Winters' Rigging, to be placed on the track next to the Lehigh Valley caboose to serve as a workshop and storage space. The particular boxcar in which we were interested was a former Arcade and Attica "40 foot" boxcar, painted green without markings, but in good condition and an intact roof. The inside walls had been covered with sheetrock, some of which had shown signs of damage (holes, etc.), but it had electric lights and outlets. We had hoped to have this piece of equipment on site before winter arrived.

Well, it didn't happen. But now we are hoping to have it or a similar boxcar on the display track for late spring or early summer. Its arrival would allow us to free up the freight room for exhibits and for space for the Homewood Theater productions that Marty Bauer is now presenting at the depot on at least eight occasions during the weather permitting months.

We have planned another fairly ambitious schedule of events to help fund the transport (via Winters' Rigging) and upgrading of the boxcar (by our volunteers). This will include a repeat of the May Flea Market, book sale and plant sale, this year to be extended over two days. Last year, as we were tearing down the event on Sunday, many people stopped by and the day became quite profitable for us and for the one vendor who returned that day.

"Touch a Truck", the event that sent us scurrying for extra hot dogs, rolls, water and soft drinks when attendance grew to nearly three times the number we had expected, will be repeated this year. The spaghetti dinner, held at the Cleveland Hill Christian Church, will be back for a third year. Octoberfest's hayride should do a lot better if we don't get rained out like this year. And we will repeat our Donors and Friends Appreciation event at the end of the season.

Preparations are being made for our tables at the Society's 26th Annual WNYRHS Winter Train and Toy Show on February 18th and 19th. Other events are in the early planning stages. Beginning in May, there should be at least one event each month, in addition to the Homewood Theater productions. Stay tuned. The next (March) Flyer will have all the dates.

The Williamsville Depot Committee is looking for people interested in the following: Construction & Maintenance, event planning, tour guides, marketing, data base management and finance/budget knowledge. We would welcome any and all help you may have to offer.

Call the Depot at 716-633-7002 or   eMail Marty V.   Thank You!

This page was last updated: January 18th, 2017

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