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Orchard Park Depot 2022

May 2022
by Robert Snyder - Depot Co-Chairman

There hasn’t been much to report on at the depot so far this Spring. We’ve been doing the usual maintenance, grass cutting & cleaning. However, there have been many meetings for a variety of reasons. On May 25th Jim Slominski & Gary Ludwig put a grab iron back on the caboose we’ve been working on for several years. We also stored a ¾ inch sheet of real plywood that was part of a Lionel train donation. That sheet is worth between 80 to 100 dollars!

June 2022
by Robert Snyder - Depot Co-Chairman

On June 4th, The  Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail  folks did weed whacking all along the length of track behind the Depot. It made a big difference. We also finally got a lawn company to start a weed & feed program. That itself is a story for another time. For $900 they are doing everything that’s ours. They started last week, and the weeds are already curling. We will probably have them back again next year and they complement our  Eco Serve  insect control company.

We put the Orchard Park sign back up on the station on June 15th, 2022. It had been down while all the construction was going on. As you can see it was a family affair for a while. That’s Jim Slominskis' wife Maureen and his son Jim Jr. (Buzz), Fran, Gary Ludwig and I also did some of the work. I held one end of the sign while Jim & Buzz put bolts in the other end to get things started. It used to be centered on that side of the station but we had to move it towards the tracks due to the new downspout.

We are still waiting on our semaphore motors, we can’t get the guy that has them to return our calls.

The freight house deck is still in limbo. Our contractor is another guy that doesn’t return calls. We have been talking with another deck builder but even that has it’s problems too.

Our new security goes in sometime in July, we are looking forward to that one. The contractor is installing a couple more cameras to cover some blind spots and getting a totally new system. Our old system is not functioning like it should. It just got old like the rest of us!

July 2022
by Robert Snyder - Depot Co-Chairman

Big doings at the Orchard Park depot. Thursday July 14th we had a "Celebration of Life" for George Schichtel. The event was put on by his family. George was born and raised in Orchard Park. After high school he joined the Army. The song "Sentimental Journey" was playing as he left for the service from the Orchard Park train station.

Upon his return he started Chestnut Ridge Evergreen Farm and Schichtel's Nursery, a very successful business. George became known as "King of the shade trees." Many people knew George and he was liked by all. His celebration was from 1 pm to 4 pm. Over 200 people were in attendance to remember George.

That same evening the Orchard Park branch of the Erie County Public Library had a "Movie Night at the Depot." A portable inflatable screen was set up just outside of the men's waiting room while the attendees sat on the grass. The movie started at 8:15 and was finished by 9:50. As a special treat the library staff and it's volunteers served fresh popcorn made by a portable popcorn machine stationed inside the passenger station. The Disney movie was attended by 30 families, well over 60 people.

On Wednesday July 27th, the library resurrected its annual “Train Day” at the Depot from 1pm to 6pm. The OP Library and WNYRHS collaborated in running this event again for the first time since the Pandemic. Despite limited publicity (Facebook only), attendance was quite surprising. While only about 100 people were expected, attendance was in excess of 300 people.

The Library held train related activities for the kids, while the Depot, Freight House, and BR&P Caboose were open for tours. The Society had its "O" Gauge layout running in the Freight House. Informational displays inside were enjoyed by all.

November 2022
by Jim Slowminski & Robert Snyder - Depot Co-Chairmen

2022 was another milestone year for the Orchard Park Depot and the Orchard Park Depot Crew (Dave Mallory, Gary Ludwig, Jim Slominski and Bob Snyder). The Depot was the scene of four Weddings, two Life Celebrations, a graduation party, Orchard Park Library’s Train Day, the library’s 2 Nights at The Movies and a tour by a large group of children from Orchard Park’s St. John’s church.

The major construction project at the depot, which began back on August 17, 2018, went through many phases before it was finally completed this past March. It began with removing the original bricks from the platform and having them cleaned and stored for reuse in their original locations. The semaphore was lifted by crane from its broken pedestal, sandblasted and put back in place.

Next were the sinking roof support posts. The roof was supported while the posts were removed, and new ones were put in place. All the curbing was removed, and new concrete curbing was poured into place, the portico pad was broken up and a new concrete pad was poured in placed, the original bricks were put back in their place, all the outside white painted surfaces got two coats of white paint, the old road and parking spaces were black topped through a gift by Scott Bieler of West Herr Automotive Group.

All the grounds were landscaped and roadways repaved. The floors in the station were double sanded and refinished through a donation from John Wabick of West Herr Automotive. The downspouts, to finish the original project, were ordered over a year ago, reordered and then finally purchased from a different company. They were put on in March of this year.

The construction was halted for a few months while a part of the movie   "A Quiet Place Part 2"  was filmed at the depot in late Summer of 2019. In addition to remuneration for the rental of the depot Paramount Movie Company flew a carpenter in from L.A. to build an exact copy of our men’s waiting room bench. When the movie was finished, we managed to sign for the bench, which relieved the movie company of all responsibility for it, and so they gave it to us.

With that good fortune we decided to have a copy of the bench for the ladies waiting room built in 2020. The bench was built by master craftsman Craig Vogel of "Lost Pond Looms Inc." in Eden, New York. I met Craig through a mutual friend. Craig built the bench out of solid oak to match all of the other benches in the depot.

Gary Ludwig and Dave Mallory installed, stained and put two coats of polyurethane sealer on it, and the results were stunning.   Bob's Reynders  paid for the cost of the bench which was dedicated to the memory of his late wife Jean. In August of 2020, about ten members of the Reynders family and five depot people were in attendance for the dedication.

While working with the semaphore we discovered the two original blade motors were rebuildable. They have been rebuilt and are waiting to be reinstalled. Once in place on the top of the mast, the blades will be attached and the wiring will be reconnected allowing the semaphore to function as it did in the 1980's.

The Depot’s next major project will be the partial reconstruction of the Freight House loading dock. The remnant of the original dock, and the Society’s previously installed ramp, both rotted away and collapsed which limited our access to the building. Both were removed in March 2021.

Except for when it originally opened, the Depot has never looked better, and the response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. Not bad for a 112 year old building!

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: July 28th, 2022

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