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Williamsville Depot 2021

by Joe Kocsis

April 2021

The snow was all gone but the Christmas lights still shone bright on this cold early April night when Society member Geno Dailey took these fantastic photos. Geno used miniute long exposures and multilayer color correction to get these very true to your eye photographs. Thanks Geno!

After two years of planning and fundraising, The Western New York Railway Historical Society is proud to announce that  Greenidge Generation LLC.  in Dresden, New York has donated this EMD SW-8 diesel locomotive for display at the Williamsville Lehigh Valley Depot. The locomotive is a former Conrail EMD SW-8, #8666 and was used to shuttle coal cars around the power plant.

From our records, the locomotive spent a good part of its life switching freight around Ithaca, New York as Lehigh Valley Railroad #252. The engine found its way onto the Conrail roster in 1976 when they took ownership and renumbered it to Conrail #8666. Its was eventually sold to NYSEG around 1995 to switch coal cars around the plant. In 2011, the power plant was taken offline and shut down. The plant was then acquired by Greenidge Generation and was converted to natural gas.

Having no more cars to switch around the plant, the locomotive sat idle and unused. The locomotive sat in storage for the past few years when the plant converted from coal to natural gas.

In the spring of 2019, Marty Visciano, Devan Lawton & John Bond traveled to Dresden to inspect the locomotive’s condition and meet with the plant’s General Manager Paul Lucas to discuss the possible acquisition of the locomotive for display at the Williamsville Depot.

That was just the start of a long journey to bring this engine to Buffalo. Now the "fun" began. The first step was to raise the funding necessary to bring this project to a successful out-come. A meeting with Brian Kupla, the Amherst Town Supervisor, ended with his pledge of a $50,000 grant to help fund the endeavor. Later our local Erie County Legislator Jeanne Vinal committed an additional $30,000 to the project and a GoFundMe campaign plus solicitation of private donors raised an additional $30,000.

However, although we had some funding in place, the committee needed to find out how we would move a 115-Ton locomotive to the Depot. The engine would need modifications to move by rail to Buffalo and there was still the issue of transporting it from the rail yard to Williamsville. No one seemed capable of doing the work, or it was so expensive, it was beyond our ability to fund. The committee spent more than a year trying to find a way to move the engine.

In the meantime, the acquisition of the engine was not fully secured as Greenidge Generation was actively looking to sell the engine and without a firm estimates of the cost to move the engine, we could not commit to purchase it, which in the end would work out in our favor. After two short line railroads had inspect the engine, it was found that the locomotive engine had a cracked block and would need expensive repairs to put it back in service.

So, at the beginning of 2021, Greenidge Generation made a proposal to the WNYRHS that the engine would be donated to the Society if we could remove the engine from the plant by June 1st. What a deal!

Marty Visciano put things into high gear to figure out how this could be done. He contacted a new company, STX Transport out of Wayland, NY and found they had the special heavy-haul trailer for the job, but they could not load it. Step in our old friends at Winters Rigging in North Collins who had the equipment to load the engine.

In early April, TJ Winters, president of  Winters' Rigging Inc.,  of North Collins, New York, agreed to load the diesel onto a specially built trailer owned by  STX Southern Tier Express Inc., in Dresden and truck it to the Williamsville Depot. This is just another regular job for Winters but, it will required at least a three day commitment by them for which the Society is very greatful for their help.

Thanks to the Town of Amherst Supervisor Brian Kulpa and Erie County Legislator Jeanne Vinal for their monetary support for the project, along with many individual donors. Thanks to  Zoladz Construction Co., Inc. for the donation of ties for the display track.

Sunday April 18th, 2021 was an exciting day at the Depot! Twenty Society members and friends laid over 40 feet of rail onto ties and prepared subgrade. The rails were then joined, bolted, spiked and ballasted. All this activity of course was in preparation for the arrival of our authentic Lehigh Valley Locomotive! Thanks to Joe Kocsis, one of our WNYRHS founding fathers and Joyce Haskell, "Official Photographer" of the Williamsville Depot, for many of the photos below.

We cannot express how grateful we are to our members and friends who came out to help with the track. We will still need funding to return the engine to its original Lehigh Valley paint scheme. Please consider a donation to help get the locomotive back into its Lehigh Valley paint scheme. Just use the safe and secure PayPal button below to make any size donation no matter how small, every dollar counts! Thank You!

On April 22nd, Marty Visciano received this letter from Paul Lucas - Greenidge Gas & Safety Manager and Dale Irwin - Greenidge President and CEO of  Greenidge Generation LLC.

"Marty, The Western New York Railway Historical Society is now the official owner of Locomotive #8666 SW8-M. Congratulations!!!

It has been another journey in this locomotives history & assignments to get to this point in time. It is fitting for this locomotive to become a permanent representative of our regional rail history at the Williamsville Depot Museum.

Who would have thought when we began this endeavour, that it would take us a few years to reach this point!!

The upcoming move of Locomotive 8666 is by itself a feat of complexity, coordination and effort and could not have happened without the collaborative efforts of yourself, your membership, volunteers, supporters, community and the many others who have contributed to this endeavor. It is inspiring to say the least.

At Greenidge, we are proud to have the opportunity to donate Locomotive 8666 to the museum and see it go to a fine home where it will become a point of interest & enjoyment for people of all ages.

We wish you the best success.

Regards, Paul Lucas and Dale Irwin

We express our sincerest thanks to Paul Lucas and the management at Greenidge Generation LLC for their tireless efforts to see this project become a reality. Thank You!!!, Caryl Youngers - President WNYRHS.

Wednesday April 21st, 2021
by Caryl Youngers - WNYRHS President

We thought we were all set to go, however it now appears that we have to do some additional work to prepare the site. A visit with TJ Winters, President of Winters Rigging at Williamsville determined that the caboose and boxcar need to be moved east by 25 feet. If you do not know, there is a short service road directly behind the caboose. On Sunday April 25 at 10:00am, we will be having another work party to build a temporary track extension over the service road. About 8 ties, tie plates, rail connectors and rail will be laid down. No ballast work will be needed.

Why say you? The current location of the boxcar and caboose will interfere with the huge crane that is coming to lift the locomotive on Wednesday morning. As the crane rotates, its huge counterweights will need the clearance where the boxcar sits now. Mark and I have prepared the site and cleared out any obstruction on the track and under the cars. Special tools will be needed that may help with the work, such as keeping the cars from rolling off the end of the track, or keeping them in place for a few days, other than a 2 x 4 stuck under the wheels.

We had such a great team last Sunday of hard workers. The weather did not look as favorable. But we will have more of that delicious Johnnies pizza and drinks for lunch.

Sunday April 25th, 2021

On final work party took place today when we added an extra 25 feet of track. The work party made short work of the temporary track and the caboose and boxcar were pulled with chains using a four wheel drive pickup. Once the diesel is unloaded, the boxcar and caboose will be connected up to the locomotive. Thanks again to all the volunteers that helped out today who helped extend the track to make room for the locomotive. The short video below shows the movement of the cars.

Monday April 26th, 2021

Loading day... the locomotive was loaded onto this special heavy-haul trailer owned by STX Southern Tier Express Inc. at the Greenidge Generation LLC. company in Dresden, NY. Winters Rigging separated #8666 from its trucks and loaded it onto the flatbed trailer.

Two "Sideboom Cats" lifted the 115 ton engine and "walked" it over to the staging area and rested it on blocks. Winters used its 100 ton crane and the two side booms to lift it high enough to get the 32 wheel trailer underneath. The rest of the day was spent securing the locomotive for its move having it inspected and weighed by the New York State Police to ensure it meets the requirements of a special DOT permit.

Thanks to Devan Lawton, another one of our WNYRHS "founding fathers" for the photos below.

Tuesday April 27th, 2021

Moving day... With the locomotive loaded onto the STX Southern Tier Express Inc. trailer in Dresden, New York, Winters Rigging loaded the trucks onto another flatbed trailer and sent them to the Depot. The State Police didn't want to tie up rush hour so they stopped the transport for 2 hours in Alexander and then continued onto the depot arriving in Williamsville around 6:15pm.

Railfans gathered all along the route from Dresden down Route 14, then up the 390 to Route 63, up to Pavilion to Route 20, onto Alexander to Route 20W at Texacotown. It then headed West to Alden on Broadway, then North on Crittenden Road to Genesse Street to Transit Road to Sheridan then finally to North Forest and onto Main Street in Williamsville.

Thanks to all the people along the route who contributed these great photos as LV #252 made its way to the Lehigh Valley Depot in Williamsville. It was facinating watching the STX team maneuver the 130 foot long trailer backing it into the Depot. Amherst Police Investigator, Kevin Maria did a great job photographing many of the skillful maneuvers performed by the STX Express crew.

Chris Podosek captured the caravan in multiple spots along the route and did a beautiful job with this quick time video, capturing the home stretch into the Depot off of Main Street.

Wednesday April 28th, 2021

Unloading... Bright and early on Wednesday morning, Winters Rigging had its crew ready to unload #8666 from the STX trailer. First their 100 ton crane and the two "sideboom" CATS had to lift the locomotive high enough to allow the trailer to be pulled from underneath.

The engine was lowered onto blocks so the crane and CATS could reposition themselves to make the move over the traction motor trucks. The engine was then gently lowered back onto its trucks. This choreographed process took almost four hours but Winters Rigging made it look easy.

With the locomotive back on its trucks, Winters crew took one last step of reapplying the very heavy pilot plates over the couplers. When they were bolted tight, the team made their equipment ready for the trip back to North Collins. The Society cannot express how appreciative we are to TJ Winters and his crew, for all their expert and careful hard work over the last three days and to STX Southern Tier Express Inc., for their safe move of the engine and ability to make the very narrow turn into the property and unbelievable skill to get over the Depot curbs.

We also have to give thanks to Don & Barbara Owens and Marty & Kathy Visciano for their generous financial support to this important project. Of course we have to give a shout out to all of our friends who posted all the wonderful photos to our Facebook pages, WNYRHS Trustee, Joe Kocsis, the Amherst Police Department, who's service ensured the safety of the move, the public and their photos. We hope with all the outpouring of support from the community, we can soon get the funds needed to paint the locomotive back into its original Lehigh Valley Railroad colors as seen in the last photo below. Please consider a donation to help make this happen. Thank You!

Sunday May 2nd, 2021

The Depot crew took three well earned days off but were back at it on Sunday. With the locomotive "tied down," They needed to move the boxcar and caboose West to the couple them onto the engine and remove the temporary track over the service road.

Using Marty V's Kobota tractor, the boxcar was moved up the track toward the locomotive and then pushed until the couplers locked. The same process was used to move the caboose. We had a "freight train" again. Thanks to Ben Wild for the video below of the final move.

With the two cars coupled to the engine, the temporary sections of extension rail were pulled up and stacked in our storage area. The ties moved to the storage area as well. The Kobota tractor made short work of moving the crushed stone back to the pile and the service road was cleaned up.

Trustee Joe Kocsis took time to further photograph the engine with the cars coupled behind. There is very little repair work to be done before grinding, sanding and priming can begin. For a 70 year old locomotive that has sat outside for most of its career, it seems to have been well taken care of by Conrail and Greenidge Generation.

One can not help to notice the standard "Pyle" dual headlght housing with integrated number boards. Plans are to replace the number boards with the original Lehigh number, "252" as soon as possible. The control stand is in excellent shape with all glass on the gauges intact and no missing handles. Scraping, sanding, priming and paint will make it look like new again.

The steps have been relocated to allow visitors to tour LV #95050 in its new location. On a beautiful May evening, Society member Geno Dailey captured these beautiful "time delay" exposures of CR #8666 resting next to the Depot.

With Covid-19 restrictions still in place, the Williamsville Depot Steering committee is planning as many outdoor events as possible.

July 2021

        The brutally hot weather we had in June it greatly slowed the pace of activities at the Depot. On July 24th we had a free music event at the Depot.

        This was a "Benefit Concert" starring the "Ladies First Combo" an award winning local group of Jazz Musicians who played from 2pm - 4pm. Highlights were: Our "Dining Out" raffle that was a huge success. Thanks to the generous donations from area restaurants, who provided gift cards, etc. for our event. "Depot Dogs" and Popcorn were for sale and a 50/50 draw was held. All proceeds benefited the Locomotive restoration project.

Our annual "Cruise Nite" classic auto show got cancelled on the 17th due to heavy rains so it was rescheduled for August 14th.

August 2021

        August was equally as hot as June (WNY set an all time average daily tempature of 75.7 degrees) but it did not slow the work down at the Depot. The crew got busy grinding, sanding and priming on our LV #252 SW-8 locomtotive. By the time of our "Cruise Nite" on the 14th, a lot of work had been accomplished especially on the frame and cab.

August 14th turned out to be a beautiful day for our annual "Cruise Nite" at the Depot. Over a dozen classic cars and trucks were on display along with our Depot organized activites. Refreshments and fresh popcorn were availible and the visitors were able to inspect our "new" locomotive as well as the cars. Thanks to Society member Paul Mayer for the pics of the Car Show.

Day 1 of the "Railway Heritage Discovery Festival"

        On August 25th, 2021, it was the Williamsville Depots' turn to shine on Day 1 of our first annual  "Railway Heritage Discovery Festival."   The Depot crew was hard at work setting up the Depot early in the morning. The event kicked off at 2:00pm and ran until 8:00pm.

Many people stopped by to tour the Depot and learn more about its history as well as the history behind the display equipment. There was lots of stuff for the kids to do, free balloons, play a game of Cornhole or Frisbee Toss.

Operation Lifesaver had a table with free reminders to help educate the public about safety when crossing or being around railroad tracks.

We also had a signal lantern demonstration, and a display of model railroad equipment provided by the the local chapter of the Western New York National Model Railroad Association.

WNYRHS President, Caryl Youngers, brought his "Fairmont" railroad speeder car to display along with a large assortment of all the tools needed to work on railroad tracks.

Inside the Depot, we had our "Basket Raffle" as well as an operating "O" Gauge railroad train layout. With the renovation of the Depot nearing completion, visitors were able to view our "Friends of the Depot" donation board.

Outside the Depot, both our LV #252 SW-8 locomotive and our Lehigh Valley caboose were open for inspection. Progress on getting #252 back into "Cornell Red" paint was evident with all the fresh primer on the engine.

"Depot Dogs," snacks, pop and water were available to purchase. All proceeds helped benefit the restoration efforts of the Society. With the weather being perfect, a good time was had by all. Thanks to all who came to support or efforts!

September 2021

        From 10:00am - 4:00pm on September 18th, the Williamsville Depot held its "Family Fun HayRide & Octoberfest Craft Fair." The weather was great and many people came to take a "HayRide" down the Lehigh Valley trail.

The next day we held our "125 Anniversary Celebration Day" featuring the sweet sounds of the "45 RPM - British Invasion" band from 12:00pm - 3:00pm. Our thanks to all who attended and thanks to our dedicated Volunteers, Deb Rogers, Mayor of Williamsville, Senator Ed Rath and Caryl Yongers for starting the day off for us. It was a great day!

        Come join us at the Depot for another wonderful play, presented by the "Homewood Theater" group on October 1st and 2nd and again on the 8th and 9th. This will complete our celebration of the 125th Anniversary of our Depot. Follow the readers through the history of how we evolved through the years!

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

This page was last updated: September 29th, 2021

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