Volume 63 – Issue 1             1 January 2023

From the Brass Hat

Hello everyone and welcome to 2023. Happy New Year!

I sincerely hope that everyone enjoyed the time off over the holidays, you were able to stay at least half-way warm, and nobody got sick.

Our Santa trains were a huge success this year, with an unofficial count of 6,285 over 5 days and 25 trains. I am sorry to have missed all but the first weekend. My sincere thanks to everyone who came out to run trains, park cars and everything else associated with crowds this large. I also have to send out a Job Well Done to Leon Lucas and the Wednesday Crew who worked over the spring and summer to improve the parking lot in anticipation of large crowds of cars and potential foul weather. The improvements worked like a champ!

This is a good place to say that we set another new high record in 2022 with 18,741 riders! Considering where we were a couple of years ago with COVID, this is a great accomplishment. Thanks to everyone who had a hand in this achievement.

To update you on other events, the Board of Directors election “re-do” yielded the same results as the original, but followed the bylaws to the letter: Jim Jatko was elected to his first term, Kyle Obermiller was re-elected for his first full term, and Chris Tilley was re-elected as well. At the December Board meeting, Officer elections resulted in the following: Chris Tilley as President, John Morck as Vice-President, Rob Grau as Treasurer and Cindy Grau as Secretary. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the Museum and Railway in such a significant role.

Don’t forget the Annual Membership Meeting and Banquet on 21 January 2023. This will take place at the American Legion Post 116, 6400 Johnson Pond Rd, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 at 10:00 AM. More details to follow on the food situation. We will have a photo presentation by Victor Varney with highlights of the Save The 10 car rescue from the Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant, an auction of
books and other items donated by some of our members for that purpose (Bring some CA$H!), with proceeds going to the Museum Committee budget.

The final event of the day will be induction of several of our members into the Order of the Rusty Spike, in recognition of long-time service far above the call of duty in support of the NCRM. Even I do not know to whom the Rusty Spikes will be presented until the very moment of the award. Don’t miss it!

Finally, please find the next quarterly New Member Ballot at the end of the newsletter. The ballots are due at the January membership meeting or you can mail/bring them to the yard office before the meeting. If you don’t have the capability to print it out, hardcopy ballots will be available at the meeting.

Thanks for all you do for our Museum, and thanks for a great 2022!

Respectfully submitted,
Chris Tilley
President, NCRM

Shannon Curtin’s latest decoration project, a series of Christmas Tree ornaments, for the pedestrian bridge from the parking lot to the yard-side was a big hit. Her vision, combined with the hard work of several members of the Wednesday Crew produced this amazing entry way to the exciting displays and decorations waiting children of all ages in the Bonsal Yard infield and up the line.
(Jimmy Sumerell photo)




The NCRM joins forces with the North Carolina Operation Lifesaver and NCDOT BeRailSafe programs to bring railroad safety awareness to our Visitors
by Marco Zarate, NCRM Operation Lifesaver Coordinator



The NC Railway Museum was delighted to host representatives of the NC Operation Lifesaver and NCDOT BeRailSafe programs during 2022 to share rail safety awareness to our visitors. In 2022, we made available valuable safety information to more than 2532 museum visitors.

We appreciate very much the presence of Ain Flowers, BeRailSafe Program Coordinator, and Margaret Cannell, Executive Director of NC Operation Lifesaver at our yard sharing valuable railroad safety information with our young visitors and their parents during the Track or Treat Halloween Express event on October 22nd and Santa’s Reindeer Roundup Express event on December 10th of 2022.

“The Track or Treat event and Santa’s Reindeer Roundup Express were wonderful opportunities to engage with families regarding railroad safety, and I can’t wait to come back out and provide education at a few events in 2023!” said Ain Flowers from the BeRailSafe program.

BeRailSafe is the N.C. Department of Transportation’s statewide safety initiative aimed at educating both children and adults about the dangers of being on and around railroad tracks. The program offers education and training to schools, civic organizations, public and private transportation industry, as well as public safety agencies such as fire, police, EMS and 911 call centers. Educators and administrators can sign up for short, age-appropriate classes for elementary,
middle, and high school students on the dangers of trespassing and respecting the railroad. For additional information please visit the NCDOT BeRailSafe website.

The North Carolina Operation Lifesaver (NCOL) is a nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and trespassing on or near railroad tracks. NCOL promotes rail safety through public awareness campaigns and education initiatives, including free safety presentations by authorized volunteers. Their program is co-sponsored by state and local government agencies, highway safety organizations, America’s railroads, and other entities. [Thanks to Marco for picking up this important function after the passing of Jay Horn! – ed]

Together they promote the three E’s – education, enforcement, and engineering – to keep people safe around the tracks and railway crossings within our communities. The NC Railway Museum is proud of its partnership with BeRailSafe and NC Operation Lifesaver to educate our communities about railroad safety.

Operation Lifesaver Facts:
Sadly, every year people in North Carolina are killed or injured at highway-rail crossings and at other locations along railroad tracks.
Many people are unaware that trains cannot stop quickly to avoid collisions; or they take chances by ignoring warning signs and signals, going around lowered gates, stopping on tracks, or simply not paying attention when approaching highway-rail crossings. People also make the potentially fatal mistake of choosing railroad tracks as shortcuts or as places to walk or run for recreation. They may not realize that walking on train tracks is illegal or understand how quickly and quietly a train can approach. Our safety tips can save your life – or the life of someone you love.

Online Note: Check out the NCRM’s Webpage on the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) Website

Back in the “Old Days” – The Blue Caboose Story – as told by M. Gray Lackey

Here is the story of Virginian Caboose 328. 328 came from the Archdale city park on November 24, 2008. Several years previous Archdale had approached Norfolk Southern about their desire to have a caboose for their city park. Even though Archdale is located on the (former) Southern Railway Asheboro branch, Norfolk Southern donated what was then N&W 530328 to the city and delivered it to the closest siding on its own wheels.

So fast forward to 2008 and the caboose had become a problem child to the city, even though the doors had been welded shut and the windows plated over, miscreants still managed to get in through the cupola windows from a nearby tree to have multiple types of parties. We found the evidence of that by one of our members entering the same way. Luckily the miscreants didn’t tear anything up, just made a mess and maybe left some other by products (?).

The city decided the caboose had to go and put it up for sale. I won the bid and planning was started. Arrangements were made to move the caboose on Monday 11-24-2008 and several members went to the park Sunday 11-16 to start taking items apart for the move.

One lady stopped by and asked what we were doing, we told her what was happening, her response was that a family Christmas picture had been taken at the caboose since it came there. We told her she had one week to get the last pictures as it was moving the 24th. I wonder, did she get her pictures?

Archdale had blocked the parking lot off that we would be working in so cars wouldn’t be in the way for the move. The 75 ton crane from Guy Turner Cranes and Rigging in Greensboro arrived first and shortly thereafter the Lowboy for the body and another truck for the trucks, track panel and anything misc. arrived. The
crane had spreader bars and straps and while that was being rigged, the brake rods were disconnected from the trucks.

Crossties were placed on the lowboy, and it wasn’t long before the lift was to start — nothing too complicated, just a lift, a 90-degree swing, and placement. Meanwhile just before the trucks were to\   be loaded a Guy Turner pickup drove up and talked to the crane operator and left shortly thereafter. I inquired to see if all was OK and the operator told me that the office was concerned that we since we didn’t pay for their rigging services was the lift happening safely, so they sent their safety supervisor out. Seemingly somewhat perturbed, the operator told the safety supervisor that this wasn’t our nor his first rodeo and the most difficult part of the loading had already been done with no problems and that he could go back to the office. We loaded the trucks and posed for a picture before the trip to Bonsal.

We tried to help the operator pack up, but he sent us on stating he would pack up as if he got back too early, he would have to go on another job, otherwise he could go home early for the Thanksgiving holiday. We proceeded down US 421 to US 64 and stopped for lunch at Smithfield’s BBQ before the final leg to Bonsal. Arrival at Bonsal with no problems where we unloaded with our 25-ton and Ben Slaughter’s 35-ton cranes. We did a straight lift right over the tracks at Bonsal.

The caboose was retrucked and put on the RIP track for reassembly AFTER Christmas. After all was done, we had birthday cake since it Was Gene Ezell’s birthday. For once we didn’t have any drama for the move!! At least not on our part.

Now for the history lesson: I haven’t mentioned the Virginian, only the Norfolk and Western, so what’s with the Virginian? Virginian was a railroad in West Virginia and Virginia that went from Deepwater (close to Charleston) to Norfolk whose sole purpose was to move West Virginal coal to either the ocean or the great lakes (via the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad). The Norfolk and Western merged the Virginian into itself and out of existence in 1959. Norfolk and
Western unknowingly was very kind to future historians as the cabooses from any merged road were renumbered by simply adding a 3 digit prefix. The Virginian prefix was 530 so it was a simple matter that since we knew the N&W number to determine the original owner and number as Virginian 328.

[Editor’s note: If you have photos or other info about long-ago events at the NCRM, please contact your acting editor. You can submit your own “Back in the Old Days…” article with pictures about anything (within reason) from our past for the Telegrapher. If you can rough out the ideas, we can work with you to craft an article to benefit the entire membership. – CT]

Silent Auction at the January 2023 Membership Meeting
by Victor Varney

During our annual member meeting on 21 January, we will also be holding an auction to raise funds for our museum committee programs. Prior to the meeting starting, a number of special items will be offered on one or two tables for a “silent” auction. These items will include railroad related books and many other items not needed by the NCRM from our climate-controlled storage unit. Some model trains, AV equipment, and other things will be up for bid too.

After lunch and a “Save the 10” presentation, the “silent” auction will close and a short “live” auction will start for a few really “special items”. Payments for auction items can be made with cash or check at the end of the meeting. We don’t plan to be able to take credit cards. BRING YOUR CASH AND CHECKBOOK SO YOU DON’T MISS OUT! IF you might have an auction item you would like to donate, please contact Victor Varney in advance.

Grand Reopening Celebration of Our Birthday Party Caboose!
by Marco Zarate, NCRM Member
On Saturday, November 26, during our annual post-Thanksgiving Decorating Day potluck lunch we celebrated the reopening of our Birthday Party Caboose – our 1913 Vintage Caboose 335. As you remember, our Birthday Party Caboose has been closed for more than 2 years to follow COVID mandates during the pandemic. In preparation for the reopening of the Caboose, and in need of some woodwork and paint after twenty years of service as the Birthday Caboose, a renovation project during part of the summer and fall of 2022 took place.

Vice President John Morck did the ribbon cutting of our renovated Birthday Caboose on behalf of the Board of Directors as President Chris Tilley was not able to be present. John thanked everyone for attending and praised the hard work of museum members Marco Zarate and Tom Snyder for taking on the project to repair the Birthday Caboose and bring it back into service to host birthday parties once again. John remarked how good the car looked. John also stated that the caboose is important to the museum’s collection as our oldest piece of rollingstock. The Vintage Caboose 335 was built in 1913 by Norfolk Southern Shops at New Bern, NC and is one of possibly two remaining Norfolk Southern wooden cabooses in existence. Next year the car will celebrate its 110th birthday. The 1913 Vintage Caboose 335 was originally donated to the community of Nelson, NC near the Research Triangle Park and used as a playhouse by a day care center Over the years, the car had deteriorated badly through lack of maintenance and was deemed unsafe. It was threatened with being burned.

The NCRM knew of this car and was able to rescue it, acquired it, and moved it to Bonsal. While the car was safe at the museum, it was in very poor condition and sat for a long time because it needed so much work. Museum member Mack Gibson stepped up to take on the restoration project. Mack was an excellent carpenter who completed multiple woodworking projects at Bonsal in the 1990’s. Mack started work in 1996 and finished around 3 years later. He made many trips from his home in Lillington to the museum to complete the project. Many of the wooden exhibit signs in the car were also made my Mack. In restoring the caboose, he tried to use as much of the original material as possible.

During the reopening ceremony, Museum member Marco Zarate thanked NCRM for giving him the opportunity to work during the summer and fall of 2022 on the renovation of our Caboose 335, the oldest equipment in our Museum!

Marco said “I am glad to join the efforts of a lot of people before me to continue bringing the unique experience for children of all ages to celebrate their birthday
at an unique place – our Birthday Caboose, and for generations to come to enjoy it!”

Marco thanked everyone that helped during this renovation, and gave a special recognition to Tom Snyder, museum member for his help and support during the renovation. Tom was responsible for the repair of damaged wood floor inside the Caboose.

After the ribbon cutting ceremony officially marking the Birthday Caboose’s reopening, museum members and their families visited the inside of the Caboose where a birthday cake was waiting, as well as some refreshments.

We are glad to announce that our Birthday Caboose is ready to be rented for birthday parties! Watch for our 2023 schedule coming in March for reservations of the Birthday Caboose when the Museum is open to the public from April to December. For more information, email us here.

[Editor’s note: This photo of caboose 335 was taken shortly after the renovation began in March 1996. She looks quite different now, thanks to our dedicated members’ hard work. John Morck collection.]

Retired CSX Engineer Visits the NCRM
by Victor Varney

[Editor’s note: Victor sent this in shortly after it happened, but I failed to include it in the newsletter. Good info for your perusal. CT] During the summer, we had a visit by a retired CSX employee. His name is Ed Howze and he now lives near Pinehurst. He visited us on a weekday ride day with his grandkids just after the train left. He wasn’t aware of our train schedule. Most interestingly he told us he used to work on the nuclear fuel trains. We talked a bit about his experience and I asked him for help finding other CSX folks who worked on these trains as well. After his visit he sent us a nice thank you letter with a couple DVDs with CSX training safety videos. See his letter and enjoy the videos that he sent us (and one Power Point presentation that you need to download to view) here. He gave permission for us to share all this with our members.

If you do not receive crew calls, please contact the crew caller if you are interested in participating!

January 2023 Museum/Operating Schedule:
14 January – 9:00am-Strategic Planning meeting – New Hill Community Center
19 January – 6:00pm Board of Directors meeting – New Hill Community Center
21 January – 10:00am NCRM Annual Meeting – American Legion Post, 6400 Johnson Pond Road, Fuquay-Varina

Coming in the Next Issue: (this is NOT recent)