Western Rail Road Museum Archives News

On Wednesdays and Saturdays, Archives volunteers research and catalogue one of the finest electric railway collections in North America.

July 2010

The past quarter year (April to June 2010) has seen the highest number of individual donations (18 total) in our history as an active museum repository for records, photographs and ephemera of historical significance.

Our 22 volunteers made significant progress in cataloging and scanning negatives and photographs. Our curator, Harry Aitken, reviewed over 5000 negatives and continues to identify important images for future researchers.

Richard Bartel made and donated a 7” gauge model of a Southern Pacific electric interurban car and a rollaway cart, which is now displayed in Car House Three. Steven Clark donated 200 negatives and 10 color slides of SF Muni and Market St. Railway scenes. Anthony Gura donated books and a DVD. David Herbst allowed us to scan 3 historic 1907 postcards from his collection of the Cement, Tolenas & Tidewater rail operations in Fairfield, CA. Alvon Thoman donated some superb negatives and prints (10 Sacramento Northern, 86 Sacramento City Lines, and 98 Key System).

Don Olsen sent three discs of photos taken by Ira Swett from Alan Fishel, and two new Catenary Video DVDs of railroads in the Sierras. Donald Garland donated 22 hardcover books and a number of railroad calendars. In memory of Ed Whinham, Fred Smith donated a Westinghouse HL Controller and a Key System CG Controller handle. Jason Lee donated seven books. Bill Strahle brought in a box of BART Manuals and Reports. David & Sharon Fidiam donated 31 railroad books, a Western Pacific Standard Time Train Order, and a Key System bill and voucher payment record. Casimir Lawler donated a book, 2 videos, and a heavy spike puller.

Donald Brown arranged for the donation of two large boxes of slides and videos from the estate of Paul Ward. James Watts donated a 1914 Official Hotel Red Book from the Pullman Company. Claude Benedix donated a 1932 Oakland Poly electrical engineering thesis comparing the Milwaukee Road Electric Engines to the performance of Steam Locomotives. Frank Baldwin donated transfers and ticket books from the Key System and miscellaneous paper ephemera from the Pacific Electric and other California electric railroads. Victor Ryerson donated 5 items from the Eldon Lucy Collection, and Robert Smith donated 9 railroad lanterns (including one from the Pacific Electric and another from the Northwestern Pacific), and 4 large envelopes of color photos and negatives.

We updated our Reproduction Policy and Price List for the first time in five years. There were major upgrades to our technical support with the replacement of our two oldest Apple computers with new IMACs, and the purchase of a new high quality Epson R2880 printer. We also installed new software on our computers, including the latest versions of Filemaker Pro, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements 8, and Imagewriter. Along with a new server, we added a 2-terabyte hard drive backup.

The Archives provides important support to our shop’s excellent restoration and maintenance efforts with technical manuals, drawings, photos, and ephemera. Librarian Chuck Vercilli worked many hours to develop a well-received slide program for the 50th Anniversary dinner at the Shattuck Hotel in June.