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The Oyster Bay Railroad Museum Presents Annual Holiday Express

The Oyster Bay Railroad Museum Holiday Express made the hamlet a little more festive this season. They sponsored the free horse and carriage rides on Sunday, Dec. 6 and welcomed visitors at their Preview Center at 102 Audrey Avenue on several holiday weekends.

There were refreshments, operating model railroads were there as well as railroad artifacts, and a chance to enter a raffle for some great prizes.

Additionally, Santa made an appearance for photographs! Michael and Steve Bergamo of Creative Compositions of Oyster Bay were on site to take 5”x7” photos of children and families in the railroad milieu.

The Oyster Bay Railroad Museum includes its train yard on Bay View Avenue opposite Commander Oil Plaza. There are great plans for the new year at the OBRM outside yard. Gary Farkash said the group has their work cut out for them. “Work on the turntable will start in January 2010. We will make it operable,” he said.

Mr. Farkash said they have awarded the contract for the turntable to Bill Dumper of Wit-craft Electric Service of Farmingdale. They will do the needed work on the electrical apparatus for the turntable. They will not work on the structural rails or ties. The project after that will be doing a historical restoration of the Ping Pong coach, he said.

Mr. Farkash has been working on the World’s Fair cab. He has found the grille work needed for the window and has found the air horns to give it an authentic welcoming sound.

The new train yard was finished and up and running in time for the Oyster Festival. OBRM Board President Mr. John Specce said “We put up all the signs, and used a lot of information written by Walter Karppi from articles in the Freeholder, the magazine of the Oyster Bay Historical Society. He wrote about the turntable and the locomotive. The material is in display cases at the train yard.

“Each piece of equipment has a display case: the World’s Fair cab; the Dinky locomotives; the Ping Pong coach; the two cabooses; the crossing guard shanty; the turntable; and there is one large display that tells the story of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum. When someone comes into the rail yard, they can have a self-guided tour. Since we put in staircases, they can go into the two coaches, the Dinkys, the World’s Fair cab and the Ping Pong coach, and can even have their picture taken leaning out of the cabs,” he said.

“They can also stand by the shanty that has a railroad crossing sign next to it,” Mr. Specce said. “We also had the donation of a small building from 30 FPS of Glen Cove (that specializes in TV commercials) that is 6 ft x 12 ft. It was built for a photo shoot and when they were finished with it, they donated it to us.”

The building arrived in sections and the volunteers put the walls, roof and floor together and finished the siding. With the addition of two park benches it now looks like a little station house.

“Most outdoor train museums are closed during the cold weather. We have to see what the weather brings at this time of year,” he said. Theoretically the outdoor museum will close until the spring. Call the museum for hours of operation at 558-7036.

Mr. Specce said, “The Museum has financial support from Federal, State, County and Town governments along with the private sector. The Board of Directors makes decisions on which projects to undertake with the funds, and the majority of the physical labor is done by member volunteers . Next year is going to present challenges but we are confident that we will meet these challenges.

“The plans for rehabilitation of the historic station are almost complete and estimates of construction costs should be in by the end of January. The next step will be for us to develop a fund-raising strategy using all sources. We are very excited about this project as the station building is the centerpiece of the Museum and will, in addition to housing railroad artifacts, inter-active displays and changing exhibitions, also have space dedicated to a visitor center. We are ‘shovel ready’ and have tremendous community support,” concluded Mr. Specce.