Oyster Bay Railroad Museum Chair Ben Jankowski presents NYS Senator Carl Marcellino with a picture of the commissioned print "Train Time in Oyster Bay" by Steve Cryan to thank him for helping fund the museum's projects. With them is John Specce, OBRM president (right). The photograph was taken by OBRM board member Rob Brusca, Esq.
The Oyster Bay Railroad Museum continues to stay on track. John Specce, OBRM president; Ben Jankowski OBRM chairman; Rob Brusca, board member thanked NYS Senator Carl Marcellino on Tuesday, Feb. 17, for a recent grant that paid for the restoration of Caboose 12. A contractor did all the work: CZ Construction of West Islip.
"We just wanted to thank the senator and to present him with a print of the commissioned painting 'Train Time in Oyster Bay' done for the museum by Steve Cryan," said Mr. Jankowski, board chair. Caboose #12 was thoroughly rehabilitated. Besides the work contracted out, there was some volunteer work done on the fixtures in the interior.
Walter Karppi wrote an article "End of the Line for the Caboose" in the Winter 2003 issue of The Freeholder, a publication of the Oyster Bay Historical Society. (Copies are available at $5 each, call 922-5032.) He wrote in 2003 of the history of Caboose #12 to where it is today in the OBRM rail yard: "Long Island Rail Road Caboose Number #12 has finally returned to its former home on the Island after a long, 41-year sojourn as a guest of the Shoreline Trolley Museum at East Haven, Connecticut. The museum operates under the auspices of the Branford Electric Railway Association and is a National Landmark. The caboose was originally acquired by the museum in 1961 and represents a vehicle that is, with the exception of a few special cases, all but extinct."
He said, "Long Island Rail Road Caboose #12 was constructed in 1927 by the American Car & Foundry Company. It is an example of an interim style of construction. Preceding it were cabooses of all-wood construction and following were cabooses of all-steel construction. Number 12 is an example of a composite car - that is the frame, trucks and other underbody appurtenances were made of steel and the upper body was of wooden construction.
"Bobbing along behind a string of freight cars, like an exclamation point at the end of a sentence, the caboose spoke loud and clear saying: 'I am the end - this train is complete'. Many people remember the friendly brakeman standing at the end platform ready to return our eager waves as he rolled along behind his charge of a few or over 100 cars."
The caboose was the invention of a conductor on a freight train, said Mr. Karppi. "In the 1840s Nat Williams, a conductor on the Auburn & Syracuse line in upstate New York, commandeered an unused box car to use as his office. Fitting it out with an upended barrel for a desk and a wooden box for a chair and some other items it became a conductor's car or van as it was called in Canada and brake van in Britain. Having only side doors made entry and exit extremely difficult while the train was in motion. Installing end doors and platforms with steps solved this problem. On some other lines a surplus flat car would have a shed constructed on it for the same purpose.
"While freight cars may travel over many railroads besides their own to get to their final destination, the caboose rarely, if ever, left its own road. That being said, however, the crew of that caboose might spend days away from home on their own road so, by necessity, their vehicle became a 'home away from home'. A caboose would be assigned to one conductor. The railroad company would furnish it with the basics, i.e.: a stove, bunks, closets, lockers, water tank, lavatory, etc. The crew would, from their own funds, supply the niceties. These would consist of bedding, foodstuffs, linens, utensils and the like limited by only their imagination and resources."
Mr. Karppi concluded in 2003 saying, "Although the Caboose is gone it is not forgotten. Hopefully LIRR Caboose #12 will soon be on view at the Oyster Bay Rail Museum and, who knows, perhaps it will once more roll on the rails behind steam Locomotive #35. We all have our dreams!"
The Caboose #12 project has been the passion of OBRM board member Gary Farkash, said Mr. Jankowski. Mr. Farkash said, "All the major body work on Caboose #12 has been completed as well as both interior and exterior painting. All new windows have been installed. All that remains is to put in interior lighting. They have installed all new bunks, sinks, conductor's desk and the bathroom still exists there. The exterior stenciling just needs a touch-up." Mr. Farkash did the preliminary work Saturday, Feb. 14, in preparation to the photo op with Senator Marcellino.
Chairman Jankowski said they have begun the planning process of using their Nassau County Environmental Bond Act grant of $524,000 for the restoration of Locomotive #35. After that they will continue the rehabilitation of the turntable with funds allocated for that already.
In October, 2008, the turntable painting project was completed. It was completely sandblasted and coated with long-lived high quality paint and today the turntable gleams. Future tasks for the turntable include the relaying of the turntable ring rail, replacing the ties and rail on the turntable itself, the completion of reconditioning of the electric motor that drives the turntable and installation of power to the device.
Mr. Jankowski said then the passenger car, referred to as a Ping Pong car (due to the fact that the cars roll back and forth on the track, similar to being a ball on a ping pong table) will arrive in the spring. The OBRM already owns it and it is currently in Pennsylvania, where it was purchased. "We just have to get it here," he said.
This Saturday, Feb. 28, the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum will host the highly anticipated opening of their expanded Oyster Bay Railroad Museum Preview Center. The space has been doubled in size, providing the room for exciting new exhibits, including an operating model railroad, interesting artifacts from Long Island's railroad history, and an extensive wooden play train set for the younger visitors. On Saturday they will have the Center open from noon to 4 p.m. for friends and members to come by and see all that they have done. Everyone is strongly encouraged to come by and take a look at what "your" museum is becoming and see what is still on the horizon. Admission is free and children are welcome. The address is 102 Audrey Avenue, the preview center is open Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. for the rest of the year.
You are also encouraged to take a look at their website and see all the new and exciting things that are now available to the public through the web. It can be viewed at www.obrm.org.