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Williamsville Depot 2017

by Hal Douglass

January - February 2017

         Its hard to believe that winter is nearly over and spring is close by. A few early robins have been sighted in the area, but the juncos have not yet departed for Northern Canada, suggesting that "Old Man Winter" has still a few more events planned.

While we all know what a young man's thoughts turn to in spring, a preservationist's thoughts turn to "where are we going to get the funds for the projects we have planned for this year?" It's an ambitious list: repair of the roof and dormer windows on the windward side of the passenger waiting and freight rooms; purchase of and moving a 40-foot boxcar to the site to provide storage and eventually a workroom allowing the clearing of the freight room for restoration and activities; and replacing the now condemned wood stove and relining the chimney to provide a semblance of warmth in the building in the spring and fall.

         Yes, that is the same 40-foot Arcade & Attica boxcar mentioned in the last FLYER. It is still available, at the same cost and terms. Apparently, there is no great demand for 40-foot boxcars. But that is the size of boxcar that would have been placed on the siding in Williamsville when the depot was active. It is also about as large as we can fit in the currently available space.

Our schedule of events is equally ambitious. Of course, all members of the Western New York Railway Historical Society (and their friends, relatives and casual acquaintances) are cordially invited to participate.

For the Williamsville Depot, the fund-raising season began with our highly successful participation at the Train Show. March is quiet, but on April Fool's Day (April 1st), we have planned a spaghetti dinner from 5:00pm to 7:30pm at the Cleveland Hill Christian Church on Union Road at which time the Homewood Theater Production Group will offer an excerpt from this coming summer's presentation of "The Railroad Comes to Williamsville." Nine dollars gets one plate of spaghetti, meatballs, salad and a non-alcoholic beverage (beer and wine are $3 extra), along with the brief Homewood Theater performance. Later in April, the Homewood Players will present the production at the depot, April 21st, 22nd, 28th and 29th.

         For May (May 20th and 21st), there will be a two day "Garage Sale," plant and book sale, with a chicken barbeque Saturday the 20th. In June, we will be in "10,000 Villages" on Main Street in Williamsville. But the big event of the summer will be a repeat of the amazingly successful "TOUCH A TRUCK" on July 8th. Last year, this event brought in three times more people to the depot than we had ever expected.

         The tentative date for our annual "Cruise Night" will be the evening of July 24th. Homewood Theater will reprise with their performances of "The Railroad Comes to Williamsville" on August 11th, 12th, 18th and 19th, this time to be performed (weather permitting) on the loading dock we constructed last year.

         For the fall, events that are planned will be a "British Invasion" concert, a hayride and our annual "Friends of the Depot" (donors) Appreciation Night. We will finish the year with our Holiday Party for our workers, supporters and volunteers.

         As always, we welcome eager worker volunteers, particularly from Buffalo and the northern and eastern suburbs. Talk to Tom Stackhouse at a Society meeting. Or come join us at the Williamsville Depot every Sunday from 1:00pm - 4:00pm. Our steering committee meets usually at 4:00pm on the first Tuesday of the month, and beginning in April, our meetings will be at the depot. Come see what we have done so far in this restoration project, and join us as the project continues. The depot is located at the entrance to the Lehigh Trail off South Long Street in the Village of Williamsville. South Long Street at the first southward turn off of Main Street (Route 5) just east of the traffic light at North/South Forrest Street. You will see why the depot is one of the Village's hidden secrets.

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 2017
by Hal Douglass

         Purchase of the boxcar was approved by the Western New York Railway Historical Society and the car is expected to arrive at the Williamsville Depot in within the next 2-3 months. The site is ready, the track is in place and the boxcar should be here before our "Touch a Truck" event in early July.

Now that we will have a caboose and boxcar, what we need is a small diesel locomotive to complete this exhibit of a short local train. Of course, the locomotive will, of necessity, be one compatible with Lehigh Valley equipment, so that it will resemble something that might have passed the Williamsville Depot or have switched the small yard that was behind the station.

Members of the Depot Steering Committee will first check with the WNYRHS Trustees to see if any of the equipment owned by the Society might fit the bill before searching far and wide to assess what might be available elsewhere. Of course, since our diesel will only be a cosmetic restoration, no engine with potential for full restoration to active service will be considered. Politically, both the Village of Williamsville Mayor and the Town of Amherst Supervisor have strongly "suggested" that an engine should be a priority.

A pending "land swap" between the Village and a private developer could bring the old Lehigh Valley section house and crew quarters on to public land, raising the possibility that this structure might become part of the Depot Historic Site. After initial preparation by the Village, a joint collaboration between the Village and the Depot Steering Committee might bring the Section House to a level where it might be used by both for various events without being a fiscal drain on the Society.

Fund-raising event are progressing nicely. Patrons at a very successful Spaghetti Dinner were treated to a brief presentation by Marty Bauer's Homewood Theater featuring a couple of scenes from their production of "The Railroad Comes to Williamsville", which allowed for the sale
of a few advance tickets. The weekends of April 22nd & 23rd and again on the 29th & 30th, featured four presentations of the show in the Williamsville Depot, which were well attended. Attendance has been up since the Homewood Theater Players moved from the old Williamsville Meeting House to the Depot. The Spaghetti Dinner also featured a Chinese Auction with a great assortment of baskets to bid on. All proceeds from the auction will be used for further restoration of the Depot.

On Saturday and Sunday, May 20th and 21st, we are holding a combined "Garage Sale, used Book Sale and Plant Sale."   This is an update of the "Flea Market and Book Sale" that we have held in the past, extended too two days after we accidentally found last year as we were trying to clean up on Sunday, that a considerable number of sales could be made on the second day. This year on Saturday, in addition to the usual Hot Dogs and soda, we will have a number of Krolick's BBQ chicken dinners to sell for take-out or consumption under the tent.

Activities for the early summer include a public relations event at "10,000 Villages" on Main Street in the Village on Thursday, June 15th. The following weekend, Saturday June 24th, will feature  "PET EXPO" at the Williamsville Lehigh Valley Depot with rescue groups, law enforcement K-9 dogs, groomers, trainers and others. But the big event of the summer will be a repeat of  "TOUCH-A-TRUCK" on Saturday, July 8th. Your $7.00 admission fee includes a Hot Dog, Chips, Drink and Ice cream! Kids of all ages can explore Fire Trucks, Police Cars, Military Vehicles, Construction Vehicles and Cranes.This time, we will be ready for the huge turnout
of patrons that caught us off guard last year. Two weeks later we will bring back our popular "Cruise Night" at the Williamsville Lehigh Valley Depot on Monday, July24th. All members of the WNYRHS and their families and friends are cordially invited to all of the events at the Williamsville Depot. We look forward to seeing you this summer.

May 2017
by Hal Douglass

         On Saturday May 20th at the Williamsville Lehigh Valley Depot, WNYRHS members were particularly busy. Our annual mid-May flea market (now called a "Garage Sale") and Book Sale has been accompanied for the past two years by a very successful Plant Sale. And the plant sale again this year was a major success. For the first time, we added a "Krolick's Chicken BBQ" dinner sale. We started small and sold out! But we had plenty of hotdogs and chips for those who came too late. This year, we continued the "Garage Sale" into Sunday, based on the beneficial but unintended consequences of our experience last year, and found that also to be a worthwhile move.

June 2017
by Hal Douglass

On June 24th, we hosted a pet fair sponsored by the "Ten Lives Club." There were several cat and dog rescue groups, services, and appropriate vendors on the Williamsville Depot grounds. We took this opportunity to sell hotdogs, chips, water and soda, and once again offered "Krolick's Chicken BBQ" dinners, and again, we sold out! Two days prior to the pet fair, we had a display table in the village at the "Ten Thousand Villages" emporium. There, we handed out information on the activities at the Depot including the pet expo.

Final preparations are being made for our big "Touch-a-Truck" event being held on July 8th, from 10am to 3pm. Admission is just $7 per person and includes a hotdog, chips, drink & ice cream. Come get up close to big and little trucks from every type of business.

As it has been in the past, we are holding our annual "Cruise Night" on the evening of July 24th, from 4 PM until dusk. The event usually features twenty or more antique cars and trucks, many of which were built before World War II. It has always been a real success.

As I write this, we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our box car, to be delivered by Winter's Rigging and placed on the already prepared track. To make space, we had to move the caboose a few feet. Both cars will have electrical connections (as the caboose does now) and will be covered by more security cameras. We must clean the caboose and get it ready to receive construction tools, supplies and restoration items for storage which are currently stored in the freight room and in the relatively inaccessible attic over the passenger waiting room.

Space in the freight room is needed for the Homewood Theater production of "The Homewood Theater Goes on Vacation," which will run at the depot for four successive nights at 7:30pm, August 17-20. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4 for small children. Marty Bauer tells us that the size of the cast has been increased for this production. In past years, the Homewood Theater has played on Fridays and Saturdays on two weekends in August, but conflicts with other activities in the Village have prevented that. Thus, they will try a single four-day run.

July 2017
by Hal Douglass
"Touch-a-Truck" Comes to the Williamsville Depot

Led by Marty Visciano, on Saturday July 8th, the 2nd Annual "Touch-a-Truck" event was held under beautiful sunny skies at the Williamsville Lehigh Valley Depot. Over 800 young and old were able to view over 30 vehicles of all shapes and sizes and even a helicopter. The kids couldn't wait to get behind the wheel of the big trucks and honk their horns or sirens.

Thanks to Tony's Tree And Landscaping Inc for thier donation of the banners and for bringing all their equipment to the depot. Thanks to Sahlen's Hot Dogs for the donation of the hotdogs and providing the grills. Thanks also to Di Camillo Baking Co., Inc. for the baked goods and a great bigs thanks to all the depot volunteers who staffed the event.

John Bond and Ken Lyons were the "chief chefs" at the hot dog stand, which was a busy place. Bob Lutot and Marty Visciano served as relief "chefs" to provide a much needed break, as almost 1000 hot dogs were sold. Five young women, who were volunteers from YES in Amherst, handled all the orders. Being a warm day, the ice cream sold very well. "Touch-a-Truck" would have not been as successful as it was without the generosity of all the local businesses and organizations that donated their equipment and staff to the event. Below in no particular order are some of the vehicles that everyone was able to enjoy. Thank You for all your support!

On the morning of July 11th, our Lehigh Valley caboose at the Williamsville Lehigh Valley Depot gained a new friend which was purchased from a private owner through Winter's Rigging of North Collins, NY. Winter's moved it to the track we laid at the depot after our Lehigh Valley caboose was moved a short distance down the track. The 40 foot boxcar has an interesting history as it was originally built for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad and later acquired by the Arcade & Attica Railroad for use in the Borden's milk service. They were sold off in 1974 or so and used for storage.

We are still researching the original numbers and making a decision as to how to restore the car. Stop by the Williamsville Depot on any Sunday from 1:00pm - 4:00pm to see our new acquisition. Both cars will have electrical connections (as the caboose does now) and will be covered by more security cameras. We must clean the caboose and get it ready to receive construction tools, supplies and restoration items for storage, currently in the freight room or in the relatively inaccessible attic over the passenger waiting room.

Mark Klepadlo, Marty Visciano, and John Bond, with assistance from Tom Stackhouse, Larry Brenton and Art Toale, have already begun work on the interior, removing some sheet rock and opening the large center door. The north end will be used for storage, allowing us to largely clear out the freight room for future display space. The south end will become a workshop after the car is connected to our electric line and new security cameras are installed. The boxcar has a separate small door for access to the work space that faces away from the trail. The area between the storage area and work shop will be a display area, visible when the sliding center door is open.

With the new boxcar storage area, the extra space in the freight room will be used for the Homewood Theater production of "The Homewood Theater Goes on Vacation," which will run at the depot for four successive nights at 7:30, August 17-20. Tickets will be $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4 for small children. Marty Bauer tells us that the size of the cast has been increased for this production.
On Monday, July 31st, we hosted another "Cruise Night" in cooperation with the Antique Automobile Club of America. This was the fifth year for this event, but this year it was foreshortened by rain less than one hour after opening with drivers and more than two dozen visitors hustling out of the wet. Cruise nights do not bring us a lot of income. Rather, they usually bring large numbers of people to the site who might otherwise never visit us. Because of the rain, not so many.

August 2017
by Hal Douglass

Along about this time of year, like so many others, I begin to complain "Why is summer so short and winter so long?" If we consider how pleasant the Spring was, this year has not been bad at all. The Williamsville Depot Steering Committee has put the time to very good use. Starting Sunday, August 6th and every Sunday in August thereafter, Mike Ruffino entertained visitors on the loading dock, playing guitar at "Music at the Depot" from 1:00pm - 4:00pm.

Then starting on August 17th for four consecutive evenings, Marty Bauer's Homewood Players presented his original production of "The Homewood Theater Company Takes a Vacation" This years production featured a larger cast consisting of Marty and Sue Bauer, Robert Rogenthien and Joyce Haskell. Theater goers attended Thursday through Sunday, instead of two Friday/Saturday weekend performances as has been the tradition in the past. The change was made to avoid conflicts with other activities in
the Village of Williamsville. This production played to a larger than ever audience, with standing room only on Saturday night. Marty's original script was greeted by laughs and smiles at many times through-out the performance. An encore presentation was held on September 15th and 16th, 2017.

September 2017
by the Williamsville Depot Steering Committee

        Its hard to believe that another summer work window has come and gone. Can't really complain this year since it has been quite pleasant for the seven months from April through October. But while those seven months seem to pass so quickly, why does it always feel that the other five months drag on so long?

        On a beautiful Saturday, September 9th from 1:00pm - 3:00pm, the Lehigh Valley Depot came alive with the sounds of "45 RPM British Invasion" band. The group's performance was well received. While some of the audience came and left during the afternoon performance, it was estimated that nearly 200 people stopped by to enjoy some or all of the show. This was an opportunity that we did not pass up: our volunteers busily solicited "Paint a Square" donations with considerable success. The "Paint a Square" option being offered to visitors is a grid is superimposed on a drawing of the boxcar. Donors can choose a site on the grid they wish to be painted with their donation. They were joined by "Boxcar Bob and Lehigh" the "Abbey Road" hobos (aka: Joyce Haskell and Bob Lutot) who also entertained the crowd. Hot Dogs and refreshments were available at the Depot.

        The paint on the boxcar is in fairly good condition. Having devoted a major portion of our current resources to its purchase and to the move it to the depot site, next year we plan to paint it. We are considering painting the boxcar in Lehigh Valley colors rather than honor the Arcade & Attica on which it ran for the last years on its revenue producing life. The discussion is now whether to paint it red or green. White, the other color that that the Lehigh Valley used, really stands out but is a hot target for the defacing "art" of the local graffiti community.

        As a result of the four record attendance performances in August, Marty Bauer's "The Homewood Theater Company Takes a Vacation," and his extended cast returned for two
more performances on September 15th and 16th at the Depot.

        On September 23rd, the Depot celebrated a modified early Oktoberfest under beautiful sunlit skies that reached 84 degrees. Marty Visciano hauled many full "Hay Rides" from the Depot down the "Lehigh Trail," while visitors to the Depot enjoyed a Craft Show from 10:00am - 4:00pm. Although this event was partially "rained out" last year, this year good fortune smiled on us with the warmth and sunshine, demonstrating this to be a very popular event. Our thanks go out to everyone who helped support the Hay Ride and Craft Show!

On September 28th, the big news from Williamsville was that our Urban Archeology Group (Marty Visciano. Mark Klepadlo and John Bond) unearthed a number of old ties from one of the tracks in the Williamsville freight yard. The trench was being dug for the electrical cable conduit to supply power to the boxcar. These ties show that the new track we laid for the caboose and boxcar
aligned perfectly with the now buried yard trackage. Meanwhile, the boxcar is already packed with the materials and supplies from the freight room and the attic space over the passenger waiting room. Our work bench and tools have also moved into a secure area in the boxcar. This frees up the freight room to serve as a backstage area for the Homewood Theater Players and for future exhibit space.

October 2017
by Hal Douglass and the Williamsville Depot Steering Committee

        Marty Visciano, Mark Klepadlo and John Bond have repaired our dormers and sealed all the leaks, so the building is now weather safe and secure for the winter. With no heat in the building, we are generally limited to depot events occurring prior to the middle of October. This year, our Annual Friends of the Depot Appreciation event was held October 14th. While attendance was not as large as we had hoped, we did receive some nice contributions.

        For the same reason, our monthly Steering Committee meetings will be held again this winter at the Cleveland Heights Christian Church on Union Road. Preparations are being made for our tables at the Society's 36th Annual Greater Buffalo Train and Toy Show on November 18th and 19th. We will finish out the year with a Holiday Season Party on December 14th (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. See you all there!

by Hal Douglass

Williamsville Dreamin'

All the leaves are down
And the skies are grey.
Just another Williamsville winter day.
And I'm just dreaming,
Spring's not far away.
It just looks like
Winter's really here to stay...

(with apologies to John Phillips, Cass Elliot and "The Mamas and the Papas")

         With no heat in the building, there is nothing much we can do except take down the Holiday decorations. But we can look back on a very successful year. The boxcar is on site and has been cleaned out and secured. It is now filled with all of the supplies and materials that were stored in the freight room and above the ceiling over the agent's office. The roof leaks around the dormers have been sealed and the water collection pans in the passenger waiting room put away (hopefully, for good). All the results of a successful fund-raising season.

We have begun to look forward to next year. As usual, there have been a myriad of projects planned. But just three are priorities at the top of the list. Electrical power for the workshop in the boxcar and security cameras inside will be installed as soon as it is warm enough to pass cable through the conduit installed by our team of "Urban Archeologists". Tied for the second place are replacement of the wood stove in the passenger waiting area with inspection and any needed repairs to the chimney (and Fire Marshall approval) to allow the Depot season to start a month earlier and extend a month in the fall. Finally, refinishing of the station agent's office. Of course, we would like to get a first coat of paint on the boxcar (although the present paint is in surprisingly good condition). We have already begun the fund-raising for this.

Finally, there is the dream: a small locomotive to lead our short train, but it should be of a class that served on the Lehigh Valley. That will require some very serious fund-raising (if we can possibly find such an engine). Stay tuned.

As for the Lehigh Valley RR section house near the Depot, it is still owned by the property developer, and appears to have been broken into again. New broken windows await being covered to protect the building from the weather. This saga just goes on and on.

The Williamsville Depot Steering 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 16th, 2018

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