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Article From the Spring 2004 Issue of

HEADEND

The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation





ARCHIVES REPORT by Jim Dierks

Cataloguing: We hope you’ve had a chance to browse through our Archives through the convenience of our website (www.nymtmuseum.org). Thanks go to Ted Thomas who not only maintains our site, but who has spent countless hours cataloguing archive items, photographing them, and placing them on the website for research around the world. And we mean that literally! One recent correspondence came from New Zealand where a film company is working on a remake of "King Kong". After perusing our site, they e-mailed us to ask a number of detailed questions about the streetcars in New York City, circa 1930s, to be sure that the cars they create for Kong to toss and squash are appropriate to the era. Meanwhile, Shelden King has stepped up his visits from Alloway, NY to a weekly basis, with a goal of completing the work he’s doing in our vertical file by Labor Day. He’s well into the "W’s" now, as he corrects misfiling, sleeves photos, and generally assures that this part of our research resource is ready for business. We’re especially grateful to have Shelden apply his encyclopedic knowledge of traction lines and railroads to our, and future students’, benefit.

Shelden King attacks the last of 9
drawers in the Archive "vertical file".

Meanwhile, on another level but still useful in research, Jim Dierks has been shelving newly donated books in our growing library.

Acquisitions: A number of valuable additions to the museum’s collection have been made since our report in the Spring issue of HEADEND. By weight, the leading item on the list is books (see above). While many of these donated volumes fill another empty niche in the general field of transportation information, a good number of them are books we already have. By agreement with the donors, these surplus books are made available in our Gift Shop, where they bring in valuable income and at the same time help us fulfill our educational mission. A collection of over 200 videos has been similarly sorted, with duplicates set out for sale. Several artifacts were donated this period, including a cast paperweight in the shape of a New York Central Dreyfus-designed Hudson, a BR&P oval serving platter, trolley receipts and timetables, a "no loitering" sign from the Rochester Subway, a Star Headlight electric lantern, and a controller handle that fits our P&W cars 161 and 168. A buffalo-hide lap robe arrived in June, and now graces our sleigh just as it once served to keep the donor warm when sleighing with her grandfather 75 years ago. Images include 13 black and white prints of area traction, framed prints of the NYC depot in Rochester and of Erie Canal views, and a color photo of the Sodus coal dock ablaze. An assortment of locomotive engineer union magazines was also donated, illustrating life at the throttle from the 1930s to the 1960s. In addition to some hand tools, we also received a 4-drawer file cabinet to put all these things in, and a replacement dehumidifier to keep our archives in good shape.

As a rule we don’t name donors in these pages, but we want to recognize two significant donations. Mr. and Mrs. John A. Wenrich donated a number of rail-related artifacts, including an original light bulb from the Rochester Railway and Light Company and a link and pin coupler.


Harold Russell tells grandson John Harris about the dangers
of link and pin technology in the days before knuckle couplers.

Along with this donation came over 100 books, several large prints, and 2400’of color 16mm movies of railroad action around the northeast U.S. The films were made by C. F. H. Allen, and are a terrific record of railroading in an era of transition from steam to diesel, and standard to streamlining. Mr. Wenrich’s father was John C. Wenrich, who produced architectural renderings for many important buildings and whose watercolor paintings of steam locomotives captured the essence of their power and grit, and won him numerous art awards. The two Wenrichs, father and son, enjoyed railfanning together and we are grateful to John A. for remembering us with his donation.


This stunning portrait of B&O steam power by John C. Wenrich
graced the cover of the company magazine.
NYMT Collection

We also want to thank Lynn Heintz, a longtime member with NYMT, for donating a collection of 40 trolley and transit tokens. Lynn tells us his father collected stamps and also accumulated a large number of tokens over the years. When he was a boy, Lynn would enjoy going through the tokens, identifying where they came from, and finding the locations on maps. From little things like tokens comes fire for a child’s imagination and a life-long interest in transportation. The recently re-discovered tokens brought back pleasant memories for Lynn, and he and his family felt that donating them would help extend the enjoyment to future generations.

Meanwhile, Ted Thomas is hard at work on a new display cabinet in which we’ll be able to exhibit artifacts, allowing us to share the history with our visitors. We’ll have all the details in the fall issue of HEADEND.