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Orchard Park Depot 2018

January - February 2018
by Robert Snyder - Depot Chairman

         On Monday February 26th  "Lehigh Construction Group"  visited the depot for another look and to do some measuring. Lehigh, of Orchard Park, is another one of the three companies bidding on the depot reconstruction work. Subcontractors Larry and Brenden, from Elbers Landscape Company, looked at plans of the depot and then did some measuring. Subcontractor Todd Fretzer of Timberline LLC, a hardscape company (platform bricks specialist), checked out the track side platform and some of the 45,000 bricks while Marty Knauss from Lehigh, the project manager, coordinated the work.

         Final estimates on the total cost of the project are due before our grant applications can be completed. The Orchard Park Depot Committee expects those numbers to be available by the beginning of March. Once the project estimates are in a contractor will be selected and then the work can begin. We do not know how much time our project will take and whether it will affect events at the depot but whatever the case we intend to do business as usual. If you would like to help in this reconstruction process, please send checks to the WNYRHS, noting that the money is intended for the OP Depot Reconstruction Fund.

In addition to the time-consuming work involved in our rebuilding project we are starting the ground work for our second annual "Touch a Truck" fund raiser. Based on the success of last year's event we have begun the process of updating our invitational letter to truck companies and will soon be putting that letter in the mail.

Another project this coming warm season will be the BR&P caboose. Old #283 needs its roof completed. It also needs painting inside and out. A second coat of red paint will be applied to the two rebuilt sides of the caboose and a fresh up painting of the interior will also be done. Anyone interested in helping with any of our projects this year should contact us at 716-662-7002. Please leave us a message by speaking slowly and clearly on the answering machine.

At the very least, come out this summer and see the Society's railroad station where several parts of the motion picture "Marshall" was made.

March - April 2018
by Robert Snyder - Depot Chairman

Our major item of importance at the Orchard Park Depot is the reconstruction project. The past two months have been filled with plenty of meetings concerning that project. Besides discussing the project among ourselves we have been talking with three contractors and also the major fundraiser/donor Fran Hogancamp. We have had many questions concerning the rebuilding around the outside of the depot and how each contractor is intending to do the work.

          It may seem like a small project to some but to those of us who have spent so many years taking care of this historic landmark this is a big project. The cost alone is over a quarter million dollars. By the time our next newsletter comes out I fully expect to be able to give a work progress up date with pictures. It is our intention to fully honor all of the donors publicly in the local Bee newspaper and also with something at the station when the work is complete.
         On Saturday April 7th Kasey from the Orchard Park Library held another successful "Story Hour". The ladies waiting room was filled with preschoolers and their parents for sixty minutes of story telling activities.

In other news Dave Mallory has taken on the task of refinishing one of the benches in the ladies waiting room and dressing up the two windows above that bench. He spent several weeks taking off what's left of the old finish and anything else that makes the bench look bad. Dave did a lot of sanding and cleaning before giving the bench a good stain to bring it back to its original condition. Our master wood worker, Gary Ludwig, was there to lend assistance.

         Alex Trank also got into the project by helping Dave when necessary. Next up will be appling two coats of clear polyurethane finish.

May - June 2018
by Robert Snyder - Depot Chairman

There has been a lot of activity at the Orchard Park Railroad Depot since the last newsletter. The Orchard Park Garden Club held its spring flower sale on May 12th and the following Saturday, on the 19th, the Orchard Park Library held its second annual "National Train Day." We also moved all of the parts of one of the Society's speeders to the HDC.
June was equally busy. We had to replace a worn out tarp on the roof of one side of our BR&P caboose and clear the far side of the tracks of a tree that fell during a fierce storm. Two days prior to the 23rd, we had to prepare the depot for yet another wedding, which went off witout any problems.

Thanks to Dave Mallory, Gary Ludwig & Alex Trank, the bench in the Ladies Waiting Room has been beautifully refinished. We always have to kill weeds that never seem to go away and clear most of the dead vegetation covering all three of our gardens. All the while we have been keeping up with securing the construction project, which is slated to begin the week after the village Ice Cream Social on the 27th of July.

July 2018
by Robert Snyder - Depot Chairman

"TOUCH-A-TRUCK" Comes to the Orchard Park Depot

Our second annual Touch a Truck was hot, hot, hot! All of the months of planning culminated in a fund raising event that was held on a very hot and steamy 1st of July. Once again our event sponsor was West Herr Automotive group of Orchard Park. They provided funding and two brand new diesel powered pickup trucks, a Chevrolet and a Dodge. The Village of Orchard Park Department of Public Works fenced in the show field for us and for the second year in a row provided us with their snowplow.

Attendance was down this year due to the extremely hot weather conditions. Not only was it in the 90s but it was very humid as well. Admission was still $5 for any one 3 and older. The list of trucks included a fire truck, a police D.A.R.E. cruiser, the pink concrete mixer, a crane truck, a new NFTA metro bus, a snowplow, a high railer, a semi with a sleeper, an El Camino pickup and the Erie County Public Library bookmobile.

Also open for inspection was a tree plucker, a Buffalo Bills decorated shorty bus and an Orchard Park Fire Department emergency vehicle.

Our BR&P caboose was open for tours as was our passenger station. Inside the station Spencer Trank was operating our "O" scale layout along with his friend Oliver Polk.

Our three food trucks from last year returned: Polish Villa II, House of Munch and Sweet Melodies. This year we had the use of three of the town's picnic tables for people to use while at Touch a Truck.

Thanks to everyone who helped with this event, our neighbors from the Orchard Park library, the "Depot Crew", Judy Ludwig, Kathy Mallory, Kathy Schneider and especially the Slominski family: Jim's wife Maureen Slominski, their daughter Kate Martino and his two sisters, Sue Koronowski and Anne Chrzanowski.

We ended the month of July with an equally successful Ice Cream Social. The Social, put on by the Village of Orchard Park, drew an estimated 1500 people. In addition to the ice cream a variety of activities were available for the children and of course, to end the evening the very impressive fireworks display. The weather was perfect this year with mostly sunny skies and the temperture in the high 70's.

August 2018

by Robert Snyder - Depot Chairman

         This August has been a very busy month at the Depot. It all started on August 2nd, which was a great day for the Orchard Park BR&P Depot! It has been almost one year since Senator Chris Jacobs announced August 17th, 2017 that he had secured a $150,000 grant to assist with the restoration and structural improvements to the trackside waiting platform. On July 27th, this  "Press Release"  was sent to all local media.

Today, construction work on the depot's canopy and platform has begun with the "First Shovel" celebration. Many thanks again to Senator Jacobs and former Assemblyman Mickey Kearns for securing the initial grant funding to get this project underway. Pictured left to right: Orchard Park town Supervisor Patrick Keem, NYS Senator Chris Jacobs, 142nd district assembly member Erik T. Bohen, Orchard Park Village Trustee Fran Hogankamp, Erie County Legislator John Mills, WNYRHS and Depot crew member Jim Slominski and Erie County Clerk Mickey Kerns.

The complete project will replace as needed the canopy support posts along the trackside of the depot, add new drainage under the entire platform and reconstruct the brick platform. About 60% of the original bricks will be reused and the new bricks will be made to the same specifications as the originals.

The BR&P Depot, built in 1911, is listed on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places, and has been owned by the WNYRHS Inc. since 1990. It was the setting for a scene filmed in in summer of 2016 for the movie "Marshall," the courtroom thriller about a case involving Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice. The photos below are of the presentation of the $150,000 check Senator Jacobs secured for the Depot on August 17th, 2017.

On Thursday, August 7th, Lemur Construction Corporation started the renovations. By Friday the whole track side platform was cleared of bricks with a TAKEUCHI TB240 Excavator. They will be cleaned of the old mortar and those that can be reused will be stacked on pallets. Our brick contractor,  "Experienced Brick & Stone",  of Amherst, estimated that about 60% of the original bricks will be able to be reused.

Sunday August 12th found the "Depot Crew", plus help from our ladies auxiliary, raising funds with our annual "Chicken BBQ". Two hundred and forty dinners were sold by the time it was over. Wendel's Poultry did the BBQ on our property next to the freight house and provided us with a great BBQed chicken. Once again we offered curb side service so that customers who came by car never had to leave their cars in order to purchase a dinner.

A big thank you goes out to our "Ladies Auxiliary," Judy Ludwig, Maureen Slominski, Kate Martino and Sue Koronowski who filled the orders. Thanks also go to "Depot Crew," Dave Mallory, Gary Ludwig, Bob Reynders, Alex Trank, Jim Slominski and Bob Snyder.

The "Railmaster" park train was started for the first time, under our ownership, on August 16th at 11am at the Orchard Park depot. A new battery, which had been purchased along with two gallons of ethanol free gasoline the day before, was installed earlier that morning before Marty Visicano and I rolled the engine out of the trailer in order to start it.

Mark Klepadlo joined us to help out. The engine started right up and we had it move a little under its own power on two sections of track. After it ran for a while, we push it back into the trailer. We hope to have the train ready for the public for the weekend of September 15th and 16th for the Orchard Park Festival of the Arts.

The Society was donated the  "Railmaster"  park train last fall by the Rowell Family. The trainset was one of several built by their grandfather's company, "Railmaster", located here in Buffalo. We do not have the complete history on this particular trainset but similar ones were operated at Dealings Amusement Park in Amherst and one was sold to the James E Strates Show and run at the Erie County Fair many years ago. The train had been fully restored by the Rowell Family over a dozen years ago, but hadn't run in several years.

On Friday August 27th, the Village of Orchard Park held its annual Ice Cream Social at the depot. Festivities started around 6pm and continued until the fireworks finished shortly after 10pm. The usual large crowd of people, approximately 1500, showed up to enjoy ice cream, socializing and fireworks.

Our "Depot Crew" sold water and pop from the open doors of the baggage room and assisted the village workers where needed. A good time was had by all and clean up the next day was all most nonexistent making for a great Ice Cream Social.

The amusement park train has been made ready to run for the public. The dismantled parking brake was reassembled (special thanks to Scott Hawbaker for welding and repairing a part of the assembly) and installed, the battery tray was bolted in place, the gas tank was removed and drained of old gas, the oil was changed and the tops of the seats were covered with foam rubber to prevent injury from accidents. All of the cars received letter designations and each seat was numbered according to state law. The registration took several weeks to complete and at the time of this writing we are waiting for the final inspection report from New York State which will give us the permit to operate the train.

On August 28th, one of the hottest days this summer, we gave the train its first trial runs. Nestor Arauz, Jeff Silverthorn and I moved track from the freight house to the lawn in front of it. It took a couple hours to assemble and align the track with a lot of tugging and pulling to get it straight with smooth curves. Once we were satisfied we had the rails in a long oval loop we rolled the engine and a passenger car out of the trailer onto the track. A couple of times around the oval, by yours truly, was followed by a couple of trips with Nestor and Jeff riding in the passenger car. Thank you Nestor for the great video!

September 2018

by Bob Snyder - Depot Chairman

         Thursday September 13th was a very long day for me with two or more to go. This weekend is the Orchard Park "Quaker Arts Festival" and will be the first time we will run our "Railmaster" Park Train. The set up of the track and fence took half the day with the expert help of Marty Visciano and Caryl Youngers. These guys are too much. I can't believe all of the effort and work they did for us. Marty was at the Depot when I got there at nine and was already setting up fence posts. Caryl arrived around 9:05. Over 50 metal posts were driven into the ground and hundreds of feet of vinyl fence was secured to the posts.

On Saturday the 15th, we had the inaugural revenue run of our "Peanut Express," for the Festival. My self and our train crew of Caryl Y. and Marty V. arrived early to get the train out of our Haulmark trailer. We also erected a tent to sell tickets. A New York State safety inspector checked out the train before 10:00am and gave us the high ball.

The first riders appeared right at 10:00 am with "Casey" Snyder at the throttle. The train left the "station" and after the first turn a small child was already screaming for his mother. I stopped the train, the mother climbed aboard, and all enjoyed the rest of their circular journey. Many months of work went into making this operation possible. Thanks to all the people who helped me make this event possible!

         It was a great first outing for the train. Although we didn't get the expected crowds from the arts festival, over 50 kids took a ride on Saturday with a few more on Sunday. We learned a great deal about running this beautiful machine and found a few things that need to be improved like the throttle control and do some repairs to the track. Overall, we were very happy with it and are planning our schedule for next year. Hopefully, we will be running it again at the Orchard Park BR&P Depot, our Williamsville Lehigh Valley Depot, and at the Heritage DiscoveRY Center Buffalo at various events next summer. We will post the schedule on our Facebook page so "Like" us to keep up with our schedule.

October 2018

by Bob Snyder - Depot Chairman

         This update was supposed to have several photos of the new construction going on at the depot. Unfortunately the work never got past the platform brick removal and some supports put up to stabilize the trackside roof. I'm not sure what the stoppage is all about but I do know the construction company is still working on a job they started before ours. The folks reclaiming old platform bricks continued to work on that aspect of the project, they should be finished before the end of October.

We had the Chamber of Commerce Octoberfest on the lawn in front of the freight house on the 6th, the tent they put up went up on the 4th and from all indications the event was a huge success. The Upstate New York Chapter of the TCA (Train Collectors Association) had its monthly meeting at the Depot on Thursday, October 11th. Jim Slominski gave a brief history of the Depot, the railroads that served the station and an update on the pending reconstruction of the Depot.

The Orchard Park Garden Club held their biannual Market Arcade in the passenger station on the 13th and we moved our O scale layout out of the men's waiting room to accommodate that event. Every inch of the main floor was filled with crafts, collectables and good things to eat. All reports indicated that it was a huge success for the Garden Club.

The depot has acquired a new display piece. Mark Schleicher has put on loan, from his personal railroad collection, a fully outfitted B&O railroad conductor mannequin. "BO", as he is so aptly named, is currently positioned in the agent's office. We thank Mark for his loan and we invite you to stop by to see "BO" when you visit the station.
Coming up in no time at all will be our Greater Buffalo Train and Toy Show on November 17th and 18th. Our crew will be there maning the Society table and answering questions. After the Train Show, we will host "Holiday in the Park" on December 1st. As always, there will be tree decorating, a parade, dancing and a visit from Santa! This year the time will be again from 12:00pm until 3:00pm and the Depot will be open to visit.

Work sessions will continue every Wednesday and Saturday mornings from 9 to noon. Anyone interested in spending some time at the depot please call our number, 662-7002, and let us know you are coming.

December 2018

by Robert Snyder - Depot Chairman

The big December event for the depot was Holiday in the Park. This was the third year that the event was held during the day. Its official times this year were noon to two thirty. Nobody was quite sure why it was a half hour shorter than last year but it worked for us. The same format was used this year as in past years. As always, the warmth of the depot was used for visiting Santa and Mrs. Claus.

The Department of Public Works was used for food service and entertainment while the library was used for craft activities and a reading of "The Night Before Christmas". Our O scale layout ran continuously during the event to the delight of all those coming to visit Santa. A huge thanks goes out to Dave Mallory for operating the trains and for bringing his "Polar Express" train to run on the layout.
Dave seemed to be enjoying the moment as did all who were lucky enough to watch.

         New this year was the use of the depot baggage room by the Orchard Park Garden Club for their annual Christmas sale. The club sold handmade Christmas arrangements and Christmas decorations. The "Depot Crew" cleaned everything out of the baggage room two weeks before the event.

After the first of the year the decorations will be put away and the depot will be back on its usual schedule of being open to the public from nine to noon on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Anyone interested in helping at the depot please call 716- 662-7002 and leave a message with your name and phone number or stop in to see us.

This page was last updated: January 6th, 2019

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