As we look back at 2020, we see a year of extreme difficulties, a year where many have lost their jobs, their businesses, their loved ones. So many areas have been almost decimated by everything that has gone on. The Heritage sector is definitely one of those areas. While the Museum had a good year as far as work goes, we are entering 2021 in a very difficult position. We are looking into government funding to help get us through this very difficult time. However, in all the bad, there has been good. That is what we will be focusing on, all the good we managed to get done this year. It’s a VERY long post, so here we go!!
In January we moved equipment around the shop to allow us to get the GE over the pit for repairs, with the GE and Plymouth switching places so work could be done on the GE. The shop also got a new front door.
February, the new mounting bracket for the Trackmobile transmission was fabricated and installed and repairs continued through the month. The first part of our #7 turnout was delivered after being donated by OWS Rail Contracting. The end of February had us preparing for the 21st Annual Niagara Model Railway Show.
March 1st was the Model Railway Show, Our second best Model Railway Show ever, and would also end up being one of the last model railway shows to be held in 2020. At the shop, work continue on the GE diesel, and for the first time in decades the locomotive sat level after we removed some spacers under the rear axle springs. Work was also started on steam engine 46, cleaning off years of crud, as we prepared for a cosmetic restoration that sadly did not start in 2020. With some unseasonably warm weather, our crew also worked on the construction of the north shop track.
April was the start of everything shutting down, and the Museum started making plans to cancel our events for the year. We were still operating with a skeleton crew, and still making progress on restoration and repairs. The weather was decent at times so we were able to get some good pics of the equipment that doesn’t always get outside.
May started out with our cancelled Opening Weekend, which was good, because it snowed that weekend anyways. Work continued though and we managed to get a fair amount of track work done, The cab side of E7 was needle scaled and the Fairmont gang carrier was stripped down for rebuilding. Work also continued on repairing our Ferguson tractor, and the Trackmobile.
June Saw continued repairs on the tractor and the restoration of the gang carrier. it was a fairly quiet month overall.
July saw the cancellation of our Open Weekend event at the shop, but work continued. It was announced in July that we would be acquiring the one of a kind TH&B Carpenters Boarding car X759 from a private owner in Fenwick. One of our members built a small diorama showing the CN scale at Fort Erie, which is displayed on top of the original scale beam which was donated to us by Attar Metals. Equipment was also put back in it’s proper place in the shop, and this would be the first time all 4 locomotives were outside together, including our 2 locomotives from the Hydro Electric Power Commission Queenston-Chippawa Project.
August would turn out to be moving month. The main parts of the gang carrier were put together, just missing the step boards. Plans were also made to move TH&B X759 from Fenwick to Fort Erie at the end of August. The weekend after the new car arrived, all new stairs were constructed to allow our visitors to access the CN Flanger, Boarding car, and even the GE diesel. It was also decided that we would be able to have a slightly scaled down RailDays event in September.
September RailDays was a huge success and one of our best events at the shop ever, despite everything going on. It was also one of our busiest months of the year. With RailDays at the start, we finished up with a very busy track work weekend which saw the beginning of the construction of our #7 turnout thanks to James and Andrew from Petroczi National Rail Services. Work also continued on the north side of the CN flanger, and also saw all of the windows being rebuilt for the boarding car. Never did I expect to even see the turnout get started, let alone get to where it is now (see further down).
Moving into October and the work continued all over the place. We have gained some new members, and some much needed experience. All 9 windows for the boarding car were built or rebuilt, and all 4 side windows for the Flanger were also rebuilt and have all be put back in place. Grab irons and such have been reinstalled on the south side and the car is almost back together. More track work continued between other projects, including changing some ties outside the middle door, and bolting the rail together. Unfortunately our October Model Railway Show, our last big fundraiser for the year, was cancelled.
November definitely had some highs and lows. We were able to acquire a CP caboose, and started fundraising for it. Unfortunately we had to ultimately give up the car. The funds raised have been placed in a separate account to be put towards a future caboose acquisition. We were very hopeful, and very excited for this, but unfortunately, things ended up not happening as we had planned. It was very upsetting to have to make the decision to give up the car. However, November wasn’t a complete loss. The Flanger work has continued and is really coming along. The Museum took Diamond and Gold in the Readers Choice awards for 2020, our first time being nominated. James and Andrew continued working on the turnout, and a friend, Bill, came over with a backhoe and placed some rail and ties for us.
Which brings us to December, and the end of the year. James and Andrew came down a couple more times and have managed to finish off the turnout in just 5 trips. There is still a little work to go, the switch stand needs to be installed and 8 more tie plates are needed. Once that is complete, we will finish off the connection to the north track, build a small pull back track, and for the first time since the shop was removed from service, all 3 tracks will be connected.
On behalf of the Niagara Railway Museum Inc. I would like to extend my thanks to everyone who supported us in this difficult year, we thank you for helping us continue to preserve this part of our history. Also, a very big thanks to our very dedicated group of members who have come out when they can, to do what they could from a distance. Thank you for following the guidelines and helping make the Museum a safe place to work and visit. As we close out 2020, I can only hope for a better 2021, for everyone. We hope to be able to have some events at the shop in 2021 to allow our guests to see how much was accomplished in 2020.
We are always accepting donations, and they can be made securely online at: https://www.canadahelps.org/…/niagara-railway-museum-inc/
Have a Happy New Year, and here’s to a better 2021!!
Ken Jones – President
Niagara Railway Museum Inc.