"Summertime and the livin' is easy." Well...maybe. It's hot, and things are a bit 'chaotic' in Washington, so perhaps "easy" isn't quite the right description. But, it's probably still most people's favorite season.
While the intense heat has slowed things at the Rail Yard, the past several months have marked an enormous amount of activity at the Museum, and we have an immensely ambitious agenda. The Museum is poised to make a significant contribution to Oyster Bay and the region - but now we need your help!
While OBRM is a volunteer driven effort, the projects and programs - both completed and underway, are not cost free. Materials and professional services, not donated, need to be underwritten an paid for. The dramatic reduction in federal and state funding, as well as the stagnant economy are taking a toll on the Museum's resources. Now, more than ever, we need to shift our efforts to secure funding from the private sector - namely friends, individuals, and businesses that believe in our mission!
I urge you to go to our website, www.obrm.org and click on the lower left of the homepage and look at the OBRM Business Plan. You will see that the educational, historical, and cultural components of the Museum's programs are truly unique to our region. You will see a family-friendly agenda that will attract visitors. tourists, school groups and others. The Museum, perhaps like no other local initiative, will help to revitalize the downtown area, provide access to the waterfront, and boost local businesses.
The goals are now within sight, but the landscape has changed dramatically. The formerly reliable government funding stream can no longer be counted on. So......we now turn to our members and friends for help. Won't you help us? It's now easier than ever. Just got to our website www.obrm.org and click on the "Donate Now" link. Why not do it now, while it's still fresh in your mind?
We are so grateful for our members and friends past support. The progress we've made would not have been possible without your help. We are now asking that you and others express your enthusiasm for our work by making a generous tax-deductible contribution to the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum.
Thank you so much for your time and attention! On behalf of the officers and members of the OBRM Board of Directors, please accept our best wishes for a safe, happy and "easy livin' rest of the summer season.
Director of Development
RAIL YARD NEWS
While the brutal heat this summer has forced a somewhat abbreviated schedule, the dedicated Rail Yard volunteers have managed to keep numerous OBRM projects on schedule.
In addition to routine yard maintenance, the crew has been busy working on the World's Fair Cab, repairing/replacing window mouldings and giving the cab a fresh coat of paint. Locomotive #35's drawbar pins have been removed in preparation for reconditioning. The window mouldings of caboose #12 are being replaced/repaired. The P-54 "Ping Pong" coach is also undergoing metal replacement and restoration. The old railroad ties from the restored historic turntable are being disposed of.
The "sweat equity" investment of the hard working crew deserve our gratitude and respect.
Kids, Trains, Learning, and Fun!
In July, this group of 29 youngsters from the Parent-Child Home Program visited OBRM. They were accompanied by their parents, and were outfitted with traditional blue and white striped "vintage engineer caps" They had a great time at the Visitor Center and Rail Yard - and then headed to TR Park for a picnic!
OYSTER BAY RAILROAD MUSEUM PRESENTS!
The Museum is delighted to announce a most exciting and unusual presentation. Upstate NY writer Tom Riley has written a two volume book entitled Orphan Train Riders. It deals with a bizarre, but little known subject - the largest mass relocation of children in American history. Over 273,000 children were transported across the country by rail. Many were dumped and abandoned in cities and towns.
We hope you will join us as Mr. Riley presents this fascinating and disturbing chapter in American history.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Christ Church Parish Hall
60 East Main Street
Oyster Bay, NY
The Wine Train Experience
OBRM Chairman, Ben Jankowski
There is eating, and there is fine dining.
Aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train, the experience of dining is one that many Americans have long forgotten: an elegant repast aboard a moving train, watching the vistas of the American landscape roll by. Nationally renowned as a first class operation for its culinary skill, service, and superbly maintained rolling stock. The Napa Valley Wine Train could lend a master planning lesson to Long Island's North Fork wineries, chamber of commerce, Suffolk County, and the associated tourist trade, on how to remove people from the congested roads, and increase tourism in that region.
But the Wine Train almost didn't happen. The vision for the concept was headed by the late Vincent DeDomnencio of Rice-A-Roni and Ghiradelli Chocolate fame. DeDomnencio purchased the line from Roctram to Calistoga from the Southern Pacific in 1987. The freight carrier had not used the branch since 1985 and was petitioning the Interstate Commerce Commission to abandon the line. DeDomnencio and his investors purchased the line for $2.25 million, and set to work procuring cars and locomotives for the train. No sooner had the railroad formed - fierce opposition to the project mounted. NIMBYs, environmentalists, activists, and some local governments joined the chorus. They feared air and noise pollution, tourism, or perhaps just the concept of a reactivated rail line after three years of lying dormant. On a trip up the Napa Valley in 1988, I saw billboards adjacent to the right of way proclaiming "Kill the Wine Train." An injunction against the project, filed by the California PUC claiming it violated the California Environmental Quality Act was dismissed by the California Supreme Court in 1990. The Wine Train was free to operate.
The equipment procurement was eclectic. A good portion of the fleet consists of World War I vintage coaches built for the Northern Pacific. They finished their careers on the Rio Grande Ski Trains in the early 1980's. Vintage features of the cars such as brass lighting fixtures, and the arch windows along with their Northern Pacific logos, were retained. Noted San Francisco designer Norman Roth was selected for the coaches rebuild. Roth utilized Honduran mahogany and period fabric patterns for the curtains and floor carpets. All of the cars received air conditioning. A full length dome car of Milwaukee Road Lineage is also in the consist and does double duty as the kitchen/food prep car. Pulling the train are former VIA Rail ALCO designed FPA4 locomotives, two of which run on natural gas. The other retains the ALCO engine and makes the burbling noise so many of us on Long Island remember when the LIRR used ALCO engines exclusively.
At last -After ten years of wanting to ride the train, Kathy and I found ourselves in Napa this January. We had chosen the lunch train in the domed car. The new station and trackage allowed for ample parking. Inside, the waiting room is spacious and has the appearance of a small movie theater, and contains two gifts shops. At 10:30 AM, a wine tasting, with expert commentary, takes place.
Boarding for the dome car began at 11:15. Fiona, our waitress for the trip, offered a glass of complimentary champagne. At 11:30 it was "all aboard" and we began our three our round trip to St. Helena. Orders for the meal and wine were taken (wine is an additional "add on"). Our appetizers included flourless yam ravioli with smoked goat cheese filling topped with grape relish, and grilled shrimp with salmon roe. This was followed by a first course of potato leek soup or red and green endive salad with gorgonzola cheese, hazelnuts, and mustard vinaigrette. The wine pairings for each course were also suggested.
As the trip continued, stops were made at local wineries to offload passengers who would be picked up on the return trip. A relatively new, and popular feature of the Wine Train is the coordination with the vintners for a winery tour. Nearly forty people detrained along the way to take a tour. This also removes vehicles off a congested Route 121 (similar to Route 25 and 25A on the North Fork) which parallels the Wine Train's route. There are also options to tour additional wineries at both Napa and St. Helena via motor bus.
Along the route, Fiona and the other waiter Gerard described the points of interest. Most employees of the Wine Train have significant "seniority", and perform their task in a most professional manner. The entrees which were offered this day included salmon, beef tenderloin, grilled lamb chop, coriander breast of chicken, or sweet pea ravioli. Much of the food is prepped at the commissary, and then completed on the cars. All of the cooking is done in full view of the passengers. As we finished our entrees, we arrived at St. Helena. Here the engines "ran around" the train and coupled for the trip back to Napa. There is standby "hotel power" so the cars don't lose lights and air conditioning.
Returning to Napa, desserts included flourless chocolate cake, apple crisp with homemade ice cream, or creme brulee. Aperitifs are also offered, and a nice port wine can round out the meal. If there is a "special occasion", the staff will deliver handmade chocolates to your table, which this day included a chocolate Bailey's Irish Cream concoction. The table next to ours was celebrating a "mortgage burning."
Being a nice day, we made our way to the observation car and watched the scenery roll by. By the time we arrived in Napa, Kathy and I wished we could do it all over again!
Since its inception, over two million riders have enjoyed the Wine Train, removing people from a congested highway system, and stimulating the economy of the Napa Valley. There is currently discussion to renovate the mothballed line above St. Helena to Calistoga with the possibility of a commuter train operation. Much of the line is similar to the LIRR's little used branch between Ronkonkoma and Greenport, both in speed, distance, and the wineries along the route. If the east end wineries and politicians can develop the foresight to reach common ground, and finally discuss the lethal congestion of their roads and how to alleviate it - there is a well developed blueprint waiting for them in Napa.