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Williamsville Depot 2019

by Hal Douglass

January - February 2019

         Calling Ghost Busters. We begin this new year at the Williamsville Depot with a mystery. The ghost of station masters past seems to have returned to the Williamsville Lehigh Valley Depot. He opens the door to welcome passengers to the waiting room (although there is currently no heating there) so they can board the passing train. But wait! There hasn't been a train of any kind passing here in more than 40 years! And passenger trains were gone more than 30 years before that. So, who is the ghost of station-masters past? Itís time "to round up the usual suspects.". Of course, none of them would admit to any involvement. Are we missing something here? Of course. Modern technology to the rescue. We have a camera that records people approaching the door to the depot (from the outside). Do ghosts show up on camera? Our finest railway historical society detectives are on the case. They are sure to find the answer (we hope). If all else fails, we may have to resort to the local constabulary (Amherst P.D.). Since nothing appears to have been removed from the depot, and there is no damage, this might not reach the constabulary's highest priority. Is there even a crime? This sounds more like a case for Miss Marple than for Ellery Queen. And who knows. To quote Pogo (Al Capp's famous cartoon character), it may be that "we have met the enemy, and he is us."

Below is our Spring - Summer - Fall "Schedule of Events" put together by the Williamsville Depot Steering Committee for 2019. It's an ambitious list that we hope will draw larger crowds than we had last year. We hope that all of you will find one or more events that you'll be sure to enjoy! Hope to see you at the Depot!

         Train Show - This year, our "Winter" train show featured the Williamsville Lehigh Valley Depot display, accompanied by a presentation of its history by Marty Bauer, which was very well received.

All Aboard for the "Candy Train." Marty Visciano from the Williamsville Depot inspects the cargo in six hopper cars pulled by two Lehigh Valley engines at the 2019 Train Show at the Hamburg Fair Grounds in February. All loaded with an assortment of chocolate treats for children young and old. The layout was created with crews from Orchard Park and Williamsville. The tables for the Society were full of information for all the visitors as they entered the train show. The Williamsville Depot had a silent auction of 16 wonderful items including a "Cab Ride" for two on the Buffalo Southern Railroad for this summer. This perfect fundraiser was supported by many members of our steering committee. Bill and Mary Barren were instrumental in donating 30% of the items up for bid. They are super supporters of our Depot and we are very lucky for their long time dedication.

         Williamsville Depot Facebook Page - Joyce Haskell has reported that our Facebook page for the Williamsville Depot has had an increased numbers of hits. Recently, several have come from other rail preservation groups. Our Depot is finally drawing the attention we believe it deserves.

         Texas Roadhouse Restaurant - Recently, the Steering Committee has been meeting for dinner on an irregular basis at the Texas Roadhouse on a weekday night. The most recent dinner was on March 9th. A small portion of the receipts for that dinner of members and other guests that attended, (identified by a ticket obtained in advance) has been donated to the restoration efforts at the Depot.

March - April 2019
by Hal Douglass

On March 7th, 2019, the Williamsville Village Hall received an internal makeover as part of a welcoming project led by Trustee Deb Rogers in the center. The multi-year initiative included depot memorabilia from our Depot and historic photographs by Cornelius Deazley from the collection of Sue Kogutek. Over several years, Deb Rogers coordinated the team to revamp Village Hall. Having known Kogutek from their work at the Meeting House, Rogers reached out to propose that they collaborate on a display of local 1900s' photographer Cornelius Deazley's work.
In the photos that adorn the Village Hall corridors, Deazley shined a spotlight on the lived experiences of past village residents. These works illuminate the long-forgotten, interesting histories of early 20th-century daily life in the village. You can read the full story of how this collaboration came together in the  "Amherst Bee" 

For the Village Hall display case, Tom displayed among other things, a scale model of the Depot, paperwork and a Lehigh Valley sign for anthracite coal. The case also highlights a lantern, an HO scale train and two O gauge Lehigh Valley locomotives. On the matter of the depot display, Deb Rogers expressed her hope that this interesting memorabilia would help spark public curiosity about our "hidden gem" in the Village.

We have not abandoned our quest to find a locomotive to display at the Depot. On March 18th, John Bond, Devan Lawton and Marty Visciano formed an inspection team to examine a GMD SW-8 at the Greenich power plant in Dresden, New York, south of Geneva. What they found is an engine with scratches and dents that only needs minor exterior surface repair along with some metal replacement and a new window in the cab. However, the interior has all of its parts and looked like the owners "just shut it down and walked away eight years ago." Talks with the power company and the logistics of getting it to Williamsville are being explored. Stay tuned.

Our first fund-raiser of the year, our Annual Spaghetti Dinner held at the Cleveland Hill Christian Church on Saturday April 6th, was another resounding success. At times, we had people waiting for tables to open up to enjoy dinner. A group of 10 high school students from the "Amherst YES Program." (a group of students who volunteer in the community)

They came to our rescue and tended 10 of our 12 family style tables (all seats filled, not necessarily from the same group). We think they slept well that night. The kitchen was managed successfully by Bob Lutot, Art Toale, Mark Klepadlo, John Bond, Kathy Visciano and Louise Lawton. They were marvelous, well organized, and, most important, got the dinners delivered.

Andy Armadillo from the Texas Roadhouse Restaurant (they donated the salads) made an appearance and then, joined by another Texas roadhouse employee, sat down to enjoy dinner. Much of the fiscal success of this event was due to the very generous support of our sponsors. Thank you!

Next month, the Homewood Theater Company will present a brand new play written and directed by Marty Bauer entitled "The Mystery of the Castle on the Hill." As we always hoped, it will be presented at the Williamsville Depot June 6th and 7th, and again on June 14th and 15th. Tickets will be $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students and $4 for children age 12 and younger. The plot is filled with intrigue, with a mystery to be solved. See if you can solve it. You all come! Attendance at Homewood Theater productions has spiked since the venue was brought to the depot, with capacity and near capacity crowds. Marty Bauer, a fellow member of the WNYRHS, has been kind enough to donate the profits of these productions to the fund to bring an engine to the WNYRHS Williamsville Depot.

May 2019
by Hal Douglass

This Spring's rainy season has not deterred the Williamsville Depot Steering Committee from its many planned activities. At a public meeting on May 11th, at the Village Meeting House, Marty Bauer spoke on the roll of railroading in the development of the Village of Williamsville, taking his audience back to the late 19th Century and the debut of the predecessor of the Lehigh Valley and the construction of the combined passenger and freight depot. After the very well received formal presentation, there were long discussions with several members of the audience.

Our annual Garage Sale (book sale, flower sale and take-out chicken dinner sale) was held on the weekend of May 18th and 19th, greeting a steady flow of customers visiting our vendors as well as the Depot's own tables. With cool but beautiful weather Saturday, the site was extremely busy. Unfortunately, the return of a cold rain cut short the sale on Sunday. John Bond, a Steering Committee member, grilled and sold hot dogs both days. During the event, a plaque recognizing many years of service was presented to Hal Douglass, and it now hangs in the depot.

June 2019
by Hal Douglass

The Village of Williamsville celebrated Home Coming Days on June 1st. As part of the celebration, the Village sponsored a horse and wagon ride Starting at the Village Hall on Main Street and sub-sequently passing the Lehigh Valley Depot on the Lehigh Trail. Steering Committee member Devan Lawton served as tour guide on these trips, and invited riders to return to the Depot for a visit.

Many visitors were unaware of the depot and were seeing the outdoor exhibits for the first time. Richard Rogenthien, a Society member and supporter of the Lehigh valley Depot, and member of the Homewood Theater, spent the day beautifying the entrance sign to the Lehigh Trail by planting a dozen yellow Shasta daisies at its base, taking breaks to greet the passengers of the horse-drawn wagon each time it came by.

The Steering Committee hopes that you all will join us for some of the other activities planned for the summer, including Touch-a-Truck on July 13th and "Cruise Night" on the the 29th.

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: July 4th, 2019

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