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Orchard Park Depot 2020

January 2020
by Robert Snyder - Depot Chairman

          The winter season is normally a time when work outside of the passenger depot is not possible, i.e. the freight house, the railroad cars. The cold temperatures and the snow accumulation usually prohibit anything being done. This year was different. There were days when there was no snow and the temperature was warmer than expected. On Saturday January the 11th the depot crew managed to hold a decent morning work party in the freight house and in the baggage car. Our goal has been to open both locations to the public but a major clean up must be done in order to do that.

          We spent the morning moving items out of the freight house and into our recently vacated box-car. A storage cabinet in the baggage car, that was not original to the car and in the way, also needed to be removed. Dave Mallory dismantled the unit with the help of Bob Reynders while Jim Slominski and Gary Ludwig assisted with the cleanup and de-nailing.

          Our collaboration with the Orchard Park library continues with Story Hour. Once a month parents bring their children to the Saturday morning activity in the passenger station where a library activities person reads stories to them. This is a good relationship as it brings people into the depot. Usually they will stay after story hour and ask questions about the depot.

The depot was closed during the Toy & Train Show February 15th and 16th, so that the depot crew could assist with the show and to also raise funds for work at the depot.

March 2020
by Robert Snyder - Depot Co-Chairman

         Beginning Tuesday, March 17th 2020, The Orchard Park Depot will be closed until further notice. This closure is a proactive measure to protect the health of the Depot Crew and all Visitors in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and in accordance with the mandates of Erie County and our national state of emergency. The WNYRHS Board of Trustees will consider the decision on when to open based on guidance from state and local government officials in keeping the safety of our staff and friends first and foremost.

May 2020
by Robert Snyder - Depot Co-Chairman

The Depot Crew only meets once a week now, on Wednesdays, to work on the many things that need to be done at OP. Of course we observe all protection protocal by wearing masks and gloves. On May 27th, we continued to work on turning our baggage car and freight house into a historical display about our Depot. The freight house is almost completely cleared out of all unnecessary items leaving space for exhibits and the O scale layout.

In the photos Jim Slominski is sweeping the floor where a tool rack once stood while Bob Reynders is helping to move a filing cabinet into the vacated space. The tools will be moved into box car #1. In one of the other photos Dave Mallory is pointing out to Bob Reynders where one of the exhibits will go.

The "Depot Crew" has been working on the freight house steadily for several months (not through the winter) and the inside of it now is the best it has ever looked in the 27 years that I have been working out there. We want the public to be able to see what's the inside the freight house. Right now we have a "Fairmont A-3" motorcar "speeder," that was used many years ago to move track personel to a work site. Many more items will be added to the "Freight House Museum" over the summer.

July 2020
by Robert Snyder - Depot Chairman

At long last, construction started up again at the OP Depot Monday July 8th after most the WNY Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted. Lemur Construction Company brought in several pieces of equipment to start the removal of the last old platform bricks to prepare the subgrade and drainage system.

When the entire waiting platform was cleared, removal of bricks continued around the other sides of the Depot. A complete new drainage system will be installed to prevent future erosion under the platform from taking place.

The week of July 13th saw a flurry of activity at the depot. Hundreds of feet of metal forms were filled with concrete brought in by "United Materials." More old concrete was removed in preparation for new drainage and replacement concrete.

The new retaining curb has been poured along the trackside of the depot. The removal of the old curbing back in 1982 by the  "Chessie System"  was the main cause of the erosion and damage to the brick platform. The railroad was changing out ties and didn't want to turn the tie machine around, so they brought in a backhoe to bust up all the original curbs to facilitate the tie removal and the insertion of new ties. The problem was that the curb acted as a retaining wall that held the platform bricks in place and over time water intrusion caused significant damage.

While new concrete was being poured all around the Depot, a large crane was brought in on the 15th, that reached over the depot and lifted our GRS Model 2A semaphore from the trackside. It swung it around and slowly lowered it to the streetside of the Depot. It will be blasted and painted before it is reinstalled. Before reinstalling, we will get the blades on it and have the lights working.

By the end of the week, there was new curbing all around the Depot complex. The construction crew is doing a top notch job with all of this part of the project as seen in the great photos by Depot Co-Chairman Robert Snyder below.

Down the track from the Depot, part of the Depot crew was staying out of the way and working on the interior of our Freight House. Members Jim Slominski and Dave Mallory posed for a photo of the slowly deteriorating at least 60 year old deck. A new one is planned once all the renovation at the passenger Depot is complete.

Inside the Freight House, members Gary Ludwig and Dave Mallory were making new batten boards for the rear baggage door. New sliding hardware is being sought to make the door operable. Once all the primed boards were in place, Bob Snyder applied the final coat of grey paint.

During the week of July 20th, most of the curbing around the Depot was completed. This allowed some of the crew to start installing hundreds of feet of drain pipe which will be connected to the Depot downspouts.

By the end of the week, new curbing was up to the Freight House.

The Orchard Park depot got its last remaining piece of the interior delivered and installed on Saturday the 25th. It was a momentous occasion. The interior of the depot now looks as it did when the depot opened 108 years ago. The Ladies Waiting Room bench was built out of solid oak using the original blueprints we have for the bench. The construction was paid for by a very generous donation from member Bob Reynders and it will be dedicated to his wife Jean. The bench will be finished to match the other Depot benches by Gary Ludwig and Dave Mallory in the near future.

The week of July 27th finished up with almost all of the concrete and stone work being completed. The new drainage system is complete with stone and soil covering the excavations. Our new downspout receivers are ready for connection to the gutters. Crushed stone is being evenly spread over a vapor barrier all around the Depot. We can't wait for the brickwork to begin!

This page was last updated: July 29th, 2020

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