History tour part 10 A new beginning  

RailBaron2 54M
684 posts
11/26/2005 5:28 pm

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

History tour part 10 A new beginning

On April 29th, 1960 a ceremony was held at the Laws Station, The First spike was pulled & The Southern Pacific Railroad Gave 11 acres of the south end of the Laws Yard to Inyo County,California along with the buildings still standing. A display train- #9 was given to the people of Bishop.The County of Inyo at the time had no real interest in the property but did have a onsite caretaker to watch the place.
During this time # 9 was stripped of anything it had,Classification lights, Headlight,Backup light on the tender,Gauges, other parts were removed & scattered all over the Museum for safekeeping.
One year while clearing weeds the County destroyed a early C&C Lamothe tin box car of the original 300 there are now only 2 & they are in storeage at the Nevada State railroad Museum in Carson City,Nevada. Many of the box cars were sold to locals for storeage at $100-$140 each.
Due to a section of rail being removed at Zurich station 15 miles south of Laws,Trucks had to be used for the dismantling from Laws to Zurich.
The Diesel & several cars formed a scrap train that removed the track from Zurich & Keeler & brought it all to Owenyo to be shipped out by rail.
A old time local told me that Inyo County could have bought the whole 70.4 miles for $1.00 but were not interested & didn't want the Liability.
#9 could have been fully restored to top opperating condition back then for $12,000.00
No one at that time thought-" Lets get 1000 people to donate $1.00 a month for a year. Today with the New Federal Railroad Administration Regulations those 1000 people would have to give
$500.00 to $750.00 each for # 9 to be Restored fully. In 1966 soon after the movie " Nevada Smith"Starring Steave MaQueen was partially filmed here The Bishop Museum & Historical Society was formed.A couple of the Buildings used for the Movie were winterized but until that work was done the Reception Center for the Museum was located in the Agents office of the Depot.Mrs. Lois Cleaman was the first Museum Administrator.
The first Museum Brochure was a walking tour guide with a list of what was there & a little information.another Brochure Had "RESTORATION-PRESERVATION, The Keys To Our Heritage" & several photos of the line while it was still in opperation.The Museum Survived by some money from Inyo County & The City of Bishop,Donations & Memberships.Dated tickets for the kids to get up in the cab of # 9 were given so they could ring the Bell.In 1969 My Family moved to Bishop from Redding, California.& in the Summer of 1969 I was brought out to the Museum for the first time by my Parents.We would go & explore the old abandoned railroad grade & I was known to pick up a small school back pack of old spikes on the outings.In June of 1976, Mom took me out to the Museum & there I met Pat Ferrel. a man who was vollenteering his time on weekends to get a On3
(1/4" = 1'-0" scale ) modle of # 18 & a loop of track working.Pat was willing to teach me what He knew about modle building & I was eager to learn
so Mom Bought 2 life Memberships to the Museum, 1 for her & 1 for me, I started rideing my bike out on weekends & Helped Pat.I also met Mrs. Alice Boothe who took over the Museum Administrator position after Mrs. Cleaman retired- I met & talked with Mrs.Cleaman a couple of times.She was
a "Formidible" woman. Alice was usually busy at Her desk & allways had a smile & a kind word.I also met & became friends with the 2 Caretakers-
Mr. Frank Roush & his wife Florence, & Augie Varella. Frank was a former Locomotive Fireman on the Chicogo North Western Back in the 1920's I followed Him & listened as He gave tours, & Welcomed people to the Museum.A lot of the narrow gauge History & Humor I can attribute to Frank.
I began vollenteering & was out at the Museum every Saturday & Sunday & every day possible During Summer vacation from school. Augie Varella retired due to health reasons & a man named Jon Foxx took his place.One day I took my bike about 7 miles North of Laws to walk part of the old Grade near the county line.This Section had been abandoned in 1943 & the rails taken up to help with the second world war effort.As I approched the County line I saw a 6"X6" post to the east of the grade about 34' from where The track was & went over to investigate. It was the INYO/MONO County marker used by the railroad still standing in 1978. I quickly rode back to Laws & got Jon who had a small pick up truck & we came back & pulled the post out of the ground & took it back & I donated it to the Laws Railroad Museum. This was to be the first artifact from the railroad I would donate,but not the last.During 1980 a Assistant Administrator Mr. Bob Dinsmore was hired on & began doing research To put the Laws Railroad Museum on the National Registry & California Registry of Historic Places, I helped with many of the measurements He took.In June of 1980 mom bought 10 gallons of High Gloss Black paint & a friend Arthur & I Painted the Locomotive & tender. I then had to leave the Valley & Museum I loved to go to College in Fresno.In Fresno I worked on building a HOn3 modle of the Laws Yards & was taking classes on Carpetry,Blueprint reading,Drafting,Construction Estimating,Industial Safety,I didn't get to come home & visit as often as i would have liked but in the Summer of 1983 I had to get home for the Centenial Celabation at Laws.I had found a Light identical to the one that had been missing from # 9's tender & bought it, painted it & got it working. I brought it with me & donated & installed that light where it sits to this day. i continued with my research & modle building, moving up to On3 in 1983, I built a modle of the Laws Depot just as the original was built- board by board. It was a masterpiece that only needed the roof finished to be complete-Fully detailed interior with working lights.It was destroyed when the Coalinga Quake Shook Fresno. One Day Alice Boothe called me to let me know that Frank was retireing & that she wanted me for the position. Unfortuneatly at that time it was immpossible for me to leave Fresno & I had to decline the offer. It would not be until 1996 that I would Leave Fresno & return Home for good.
Now You know the background for some future posts. I have written this mainly for myself, but put it out here publicly to share with friends & those interested.Thanks for stopping by, Jim


Become a member to create a blog