Calendar highlights history
by Mike Eldred
Dec 27, 2012 | 1947 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
trains
A view of the Brattleboro railroad yards around 1910, before the station was built on the bank to the right. The round-roofed building in the lower left stored pressurized coal gas, which was used to light the town.
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WINDHAM COUNTY- A new calendar offers local railroad aficionados and history buffs a monthly view of Windham County’s historic trains and railroad stations.

The calendar, produced by Dave Allen, of West Chesterfield, NH, includes 13 views (including the cover) of three different Windham County railroads. The photographs, some of which have never been published before, are reproduced with high resolution scans on glossy paper. Allen calls the wall calendar a “really nice picture booklet disguised as a calendar.”

Of particular interest to Deerfield Valley residents are two photos from the Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington, locally known as the Hoot, Toot & Whistle. One of the photos (for the month of August) is taken from a wooden trestle along the line, and shows a crew standing on a Central Vermont Railroad flatcar, along with an H,T&W locomotive and boxcar, trailed by a loaded logcar.

A second photo (November) shows H,T&W locomotive No. 3, also known as the “Jacksonville,” according to Allen. The photo includes a shot of the crew and other workers. In his caption, Allen speculates that the train may have just been coming into service. “There was usually a reason for a posed photograph like this one.”

With 50 to 60 photographs to choose from for the 2013 calendar, Allen says photographs with people were one of his top criteria for selecting the final 13. The first cover photo he picked was of one of the many stations in the county, but Allen says he decided to switch to a 1909 photo of 10 crewmen posing with their locomotive at the Brattleboro engine house to keep the emphasis on the people who kept the railroads running. “It’s very focused on people,” Allen says. “I try to have a person in each picture, if I can.”

One of the other Windham County railroads featured in the calendar is the West River Railroad, which ran from Brattleboro to Londonderry. Like the H,T&W, the West River Railroad no longer exists.

The calendar also includes several shots of the Brattleboro Station, during various stages of development. One photo clearly shows Brattleboro’s “Archery Building,” one of the few buildings that still stands today. The building is currently under renovation as part of a revitalization project. Also shown in two of the photographs is a round brick building that Allen says was a “gasholder,” a pressurized structure which held coal gas for lighting downtown Brattleboro.

The 2013 Windham County Railroads calendar is Allen’s first Vermont calendar, but he has also produced a Greenfield Railroads calendar for several years, and is working on a Franklin County, MA, train calendar.

“I’m interested in history, so the calendars are a labor of love,” he says.

Allen also owns a business reproducing historical maps (www.old-maps.com), and he says his work with old maps introduced him to other historians with an interest in steam-era railroading.

For photos of the H,T&W, he consulted with “Coming of the Train” author Brian Donelson.

And, as a self-described “map guy,” Allen has included a map with the calendar. “In the back of the calendar is a map that I’m quite proud of,” he says. “It shows four different lines in Windham County: the Hoot, Toot & Whistle, West River Railroad, the Connecticut River line, and a line that ran from Bellows Falls to Rutland. Three of the four are in the calendar.”

In the Deerfield Valley, the calendar is available at Bartleby’s Books and C&S Beverage in Wilmington, the Jacksonville General Store, Chadwick’s Convenience Store in Dover, and the Hogback Mountain Giftshop in Marlboro.

For more information visit the calendar website at www.vhist.com/calendars/railwindham.
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