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Orchard Park Depot 2021

January 2021
by Joseph Kocsis

          Depot Co-Chairman Bob Snyder took these photos on the morning of Wednesday January the 13th, when it was 30 degrees. As you can see, work is continuing on the waiting platform. The temperature did get up to 39' which probably made things a little easier. The newly laid bricks have to be tamped and grouted this Spring. Thanks to Bob for the photos.

          WNY has enjoyed a relatively mild January so far with almost all daytime highs above our normal average. This has allowed our brick laying company to continue their work on the waiting platform of the Depot. All the bricks around the Depot have been laid as well as the ones up to south end of the waiting platform. Sand grouting of the bricks will have to wait until the bricks are tamped.

By the end of the week, more bricks were laid in place between the depot and the freight house. Tamping and final grouting will need to wait for warmer weather. Just a few more bricks to place leading up to the freight house stairs.

March 2021
by Robert Snyder - Depot Chairman

On March 6th, we received much anticipated delivery from the company that sand blasted and repainted our GRS-2A semaphore. It turned out better than we had hoped. One of the "Order Board" blades is ready to be mounted. However the Southbound blade needs three new lenses and retaining rings. We have some leads on getting replacement parts.

Last year, when the Depot crew was working on the interior of our Freight House, members Jim Slominski and Dave Mallory posed for a photo of our slowly deteriorating at least 60 year old deck. A new one is planned once all the renovation at the passenger Depot is complete. In late March, Gary and Dave sanded and revarnished the Depot benches

         The old deck on the track side of the Feight House is history. On Wednesday March 31st, the DPW took it down for us. While doing so we discovered that it was in worse shape than we thought...

         One of the main supporting timbres came apart right at ground level. It didn't pull out of the ground it broke loose from the ground, badly disintegrated. There was nothing we could save.

         The brick rubble that was under the deck will be disposed of and the I-1 air tank from #4483, will go inside the freight house on display after we paint it. Miscellaneous other pieces of junk will be disposed of as well.

May 2021
by Robert Snyder - Depot Co-Chairman

On May 6th, we saw the removal of the two semaphore blade motors from the BR&P semaphore. The work was done around 11am. The people involved are Gary Schneider, driving his tractor, brothers Ron Kolasa on the left and on the right, his brother, Dave Kolasa.

Pictured above are also Gary Ludwig (in the brown coat), Jim Slominski (green army colored coat) and yours truly. The motors will be worked on and made functional if possible. Ray Kolasa is an experienced electrician and has the tools to repair the motors if all the moving parts can be renewed.

In preparation for the semaphore motors to be repaired, the Depot crew noticed that one of the semaphore blades was missing all three of its lenses and two of the retainer rings that hold the lenses in place.

Society Trustee, Joe Kocsis put a posting on a the "Railroad Signal Collectors" Facebook page asking for help in locating the missing items to repair the arm. In a few hours, three responses were received and the cast retaining rings and the glass lenses were shipped to us within a few days. Thanks to Thomas Kraemer, John McIntyre & Randall Marquis for their response to our request. Its amazing what you can find on the internet if you know where to search!

June 2021
by Robert Snyder - Depot Co-Chairman

Since the beginning of the major re-construction project at the Depot, a major transformation has taken place. All the missing, sunken or loose bricks are gone from the waiting platform. Bright new curbing has replaced where there was none or it was crumbling, and 23 brand new 6" x 6" posts support the waiting platform roof.

        On Monday, June 14th, Society Trustee, Joe Kocsis took a tour of the Depot grounds to view the progress of the reconstruction. The photos below speak for themselves how great the Depot is looking and the first class job our contractor has done.

        On Monday, June 14th, Society Trustee, Joe Kocsis took a tour of the Depot grounds to view the progress of the reconstruction. The photos below speak for themselves how great the Depot is looking and the first class job our contractor has done.

        The Orchard Park Depot was recently given another huge donation. A big thank you goes out to Scott Beiler for helping us once again. Our roadways into, in front of the passenger station and all around the depot center island garden have been paved. Starting on the 21st, Tom Greenauer Development Inc. took less than a week to do the blacktop which was a lot of work. The finished layer of roadway was not just paved on top of whatever we had there. The sub-grade work went down over a foot deep and then several layers of base material were added. The finished job looks fantastic! The Village has finally finished the sandblasted, painting and lettering of the BR&P Railroad bridge over Rt. 277. (South Buffalo Street)

July 2021
by Robert Snyder - Depot Co-Chairman

        During the last days of June and the first week of July, Tom Greenauer Development Inc. finished the last of the paving on the Depot grounds. This again was due to the wonderful generosity of Scott Beiler who paid for all the work. Once the paving was complete, Greenauer cleared out construction debris and brought in fresh topsoil and seeded all the scared areas around the Depot.

        On July 17th, Mr Beiler paid a visit to the Depot to view how the landscaping project turned out and was thrilled with the results. He asked "Is there anything else I can do to help?" We mentioned that the exterior woodwork could use some fresh paint. On July 26th, a painting crew from "Memminger's Painting" showed up and went right to work. By the end of the week, the Depot was looking like the day it opened in 1912. A huge "Thank you" goes out to Mr. Scott Beiler, Tom Greenauer Development Inc. and Memminger's Painting for their first class work and generosity!

        The painting crew completed their work on Thursday and then on Saturday the 31st, a newlywed couple held their reception at the sparkling Depot. The bride, groom and all their guests were thrilled with how nice everything looked and enhanced their special day.

August 2021

On Saturday August 21st, a Birthday Party for a 100 year old was held at the depot. On Friday, August 27th, the "Life Celebration" for Nan Ackerman, a lifelong resident and benefactor of the Depot was celebrated at the depot. Nan peacefully passed away on December 5th, 2020.

August 26th - Day 2 of the "Railway Heritage Discovery Festival"

Visitors were able to stop by the Orchard Park Depot to see the completed restoration of the building's exterior with fresh paint and the re-bricked waiting platform. The Depot was open from 2:00pm to 8:00pm as Day 2 of the  "Railway Heritage Discovery Festival."   continued at our Orchard Park Depot.

There were displays by the WNY Garden Railway Society and Operation Lifesaver and a signal lantern demonstration. Society President Caryl Youngers brought his vintage "Fairmont" track speeder. A basket raffle and a 50/50 split drawing were held to raise funds to continue restoration projects and the Depot Crew sold "Depot Dogs," snacks, pop and water.

September 2021

by Bob Snyder - Depot Chairman

On September 11th, another wedding reception was held at the depot. A week later, the floors in the agent’s office, both waiting rooms and the connecting hallway were all refinished by a professional floor refinishing company, courtesy of Mr. John Wabick, Mr. Scott Bieler's associate.

2021 has turned out to be a banner year at the Orchard Park Depot. It started off with our usual to do list but it has, in the last 9 months, taken on a life of its own. Our contractor, Jeff Rosser, finished most of the outside work and then Mr. Scott Bieler brought about several major improvements that we could only have dreamed of. It is because of Scott that we now have a fully blacktopped driveway, floors in the waiting rooms and agents office sanded and varnished, and all of the white painted surfaces on the outside of the Depot painted with two coats of white paint. He did things like having his 84 year old completely restored 1937 Ford pickup on display for the "Railway Heritage Discovery Festival" at the Depot. Mr. Bieler has been extremely generous to us this year, we will be forever grateful. Below is a list of what has been done at the Depot so far this year.

1. Gary Ludwig and Dave Mallory sanded and varnished the depot benches during March.
2. March 13th an electrical outlet in the baggage room was moved due to the placement of the new sink and cabinet.
3. March 31st the OP DPW knocked down the freight house deck that collapsed.
4. On April 3rd, a 20 gallon hot water tank was installed in the basement along with needed plumbing and electrical.
5. A berm was built on the far side of the tracks on April 14th and evergreens were planted by month's end.
6. By the end of April, Gary Ludwig built a cabinet with a stainless-steel sink that was installed in the baggage room.
7. All platform brick work was completed by a subcontractor.
8. A roofing company repairs a part of the southwest ridge of the Depot roof on April 14th.
9. The semaphore motors that control the semaphore blades were found to be in good condition and were removed on May 6th from the semaphore and sent out to be restored. (9/24 expected return)
10. We did some cleaning and rearranging work in the freight house in early May.
11. Gary Ludwig sanded and varnished the entrance doors in the Depot.
12. Mr. Scott Beiler had all of the driveways at the depot blacktopped by June 26th.
13. All gardens and unfinished ground areas were finished with topsoil and hydroseeded in June (grass has filled in).
14. July 7th the areas around the new blacktop were landscaped with soil and grass seed.
15. Gary Ludwig sands and varnishes the woodwork on the Depot walls.
16. By July 26th Mr. Scott Beiler had all of the outside white painted surfaces painted with two coats of white paint.
17. July 31st a couple were married and had their reception at the depot.
18. Saturday August 21st a Birthday party for a 100 year old was held at the depot.
19. "Railway Heritage Discovery Festival" was held at the depot August 26th.
20. August 27th the Life Celebration for Nan Ackerman was held at the depot.
21. September 11th a wedding reception was held at the depot.
22. The floors in the agent’s office, both waiting rooms and the connecting hallway were all refinished by a professional floor refinishing company, courtesy of Mr. John Wabick, Mr. Bieler's associate.
23. There many other smaller maintenance issues that took up a significant amount of time such as watering the newly planted grass, being on sight when our alarm company replaced a faulty motion sensor, repairing the door locks and set up and clean up after events.

November 2021

by Bob Snyder - Depot Chairman

The colder weather in November did not slow the OP Depot crew down. On Tuesday, November 9th,  Wilson Crane Service  was on site with their 35 Ton TEREX t335, 95 foot boom, "Hydraulic Truck Crane." Our 28 foot semaphore mast and ladders, were ready to be unloaded and lifted into place on the trackside of the Depot, after being sandblasted and painted.

The crane operator, in constant contact with his partner on the trackside of the Depot, gently lifted the mast assembly over the roof of the Depot.

With the mast centered over the concrete mounting base, the crane operator lowers it into place. The crane arrived at 9:00am and the mast was set in place by 10:00am. The semaphore blades and motors will be installed later, but all the wiring is already in place when they are mounted.

On Saturday the 13th the depot was rented for a birthday party for 99 year old WWII veteran Mr. Jim Benzinger. His daughter, Suzy, went to a lot of trouble and spent a lot of money to make the party a very memorial one for everyone who came. It should be memorable. The party for Jim started at 3:00 and ended at 6:00. Jim is the last surviving member of Orchard Park High School - Class of 1941.

As part of the party, Suzy had the Orchard Park High School marching band, march onto the track side platform and perform several numbers. It was truly a sight to see and hear.

The band members were treated to a meal and live music in a cabaret tent situated on the new blacktop driveway. Fear not, no stakes went in to the new drive way.

Adults were fed in the Depot and a "Beer Wagon" was available outside of the Depot. Our baggage cart was used for a snack table complete with a new Lionel train set that operated during the party.

Jim was an expert shot with a rifle. It is a matter of record that during the war he is credited with shooting 30+ enemy soldiers during one single engagement. Jim told stories to all his friends and family and by all accounts, he had the time of his life!

December 2021

by Robert Snyder - Depot Chairman

Work sessions will continue every Wednesday and Saturday morning from 9:00am to noon. Anyone interested in spending some time at the depot please call our number, 662-7002, and let us know you are coming.

This page was last updated: November 20th, 2021

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