Thursday, July 3, 2014

"Take a good look......"

"The steam locomotive is the nearest thing to a living machine that mankind has ever invented." - Nigel Harris

After too many hurdles to count, it appears that our plans to ship Locomotive #35 to the Steam Operations Corp. in Alabama for its restoration, are finally about to be realized.  #35 was built at the Pennsylvania RR's Juniata Works in 1928, and was the last steam engine to operate on the LIRR - being retired in 1955.

Nigel Harris, the Managing Editor of the British magazine RAIL, writes, "I've never met anyone who, once bitten by the steam engine bug, ever gets it out of his system."  So my tale begins.

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh.  The house that my parents bought in 1948 overlooked, in the distance, the Ohio River.  Train tracks bordered both banks, and from my bedroom window I could make out the images of freight trains on their journeys.  On quiet nights, I could hear the plaintive wail of the steam locomotive's whistle - a sound now heard only in film noir classics of the '40s

My father, who shared my love of trains, would sometimes take me on his day off, to the Gimbel's Department Store warehouse rail yards.  On one of these visits, in the mid 1950s, he pointed to a large and impressive steam locomotive and said, "take a good look, because pretty soon they'll all be gone."  When he saw my reaction, and the tear that was welling up in my 9 year old eyes, he quickly told me a fatherly fib - assuring me that "maybe they ALL won't be gone."

Well they are gone.  Five years ago I learned of the OBRM's effort to restore the historic station, and Locomotive #35, and I saw a chance to rekindle my passion for trains and railroading.  I hoped that my 30 plus years a fundraising and communications executive could be put to use to help the Museum achieve its goals and objectives.

It has been my privilege to work alongside President John Specce and the rest of the Museum's volunteer leadership.  We've made some significant progress, but much remains to be done.  The good news is that the goal of a fully functioning Oyster Bay Railroad Museum is now more than ever,
clearly within sight.  However, also now more than ever, we need your generous support and that of others to help hasten the day.

It's been my pleasure to get to know and work with many of you, and I will always cherish the friends and colleagues that came into my life via the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum.  I will be moving on to other projects, but as Nigel Harris said, "once bitten by the steam engine bug....."

Have wonderful summer!

Bill Bell

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Message

"Summertime, Lemonade, Heatwaves"

It all brings to mind thoughts of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum - right? No?
Well, we hope that you'll spend at least a little bit of time thinking of us.

The past several months have been marked with an enormous amount of activity at the Museum, and we have an ambitious agenda. The OBRM is poised to make a significant contribution to Oyster Bay and the region - but now we need your help!

While the Museum 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 and 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!

If you click on the lower left of our homepage, you will see that the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum Business Plan describes how the educational, historical, and cultural components of the Museum 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 through TR Memorial Park, and boost local business.

These goals are now within sight, but the landscape has changed dramatically. The formerly reliable government funding stream can no longer be counted on. S0......we now turn to our members and friends for help. Won't you help us? It's now easier that ever. Just click on the "DONATE NOW link on the homepage. Why not do it now, while it's fresh in your mind?

We are so grateful for our member's and friend's past support. We ask that you, once again (or maybe for the first time), express your support for our work by making a generous tax-deductible contribution to the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum.

Thanks for your time and attention. If you would like more information about OBRM, or would like to schedule a visit/tour, please contact us at, or call us at 516-558-7036.

Enjoy the Summertime, have some lemonade, stay cool, and give some thought to the important mission of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum.

Bill Bell
Director of Development

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The New Oyster Bay Railroad Museum Business Plan

After over a year of hard work on the part of the OBRM Board, especially President John Specce and board members Rob Brusca and Lauren Godoy, we are proud to present the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum Business Plan. I would also like to thank the Plan's designer, Jim Ubertini for his creativity, sensitivity to our mission, and his patience.

We believe that the Plan provides, in an attractive format, a comprehensive guide to the exciting goals and objectives of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum. We also believe that it reinforces the case for the value and viability of what will be an important historical, educational and commercial contributor to the hamlet and the region.

The leadership and supporters of the OBRM have long held the view that the Museum can be the catalyst for the revitalization of the Oyster Bay downtown. Please click on the link on the bottom left of the OBRM website home page to view the OBRM Business Plan. We hope you enjoy it, and that as you learn more about our exciting project, you will consider making a generous, tax deductible contribution in support of our efforts.

Thanks for your time and attention.

Bill Bell

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

OBRM Celebrates The Launch of Summer 2010

On a beautiful Gold Coast evening, Thursday June 17th to be precise, friends and supporters of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum gathered at the Sagamore Yacht Club to usher in our "Fourth Annual Summer Solstice Celebration." It also marked the launch of the Museum's new website.

The annual fund raiser actually took place four days before the major celestial event marking the longest day, and the shortest night of the year. This minor anomaly, however, did nothing to dampen the spirits and enthusiasm of the guests. In attendance were new members of the OBRM Advisory Board, Lisa Ott, President of the North Shore Alliance, and Roger Bahnik and his wife Lori. Town of Oyster Bay Councilman Anthony Macagnone, a staunch supporter of the Museum also joined the festivities.

A beautiful variety of items donated by Oyster Bay merchants, made for a very lucrative silent auction, and the always popular 50/50 raffle saw a lucky party goer take home $1,000.00! The Gathering Time Trio peppered their popular country/rock selections with railroad songs that brought smiles to the faces of train buffs and regular folks alike.

Some in the large crowd took advantage of the beautiful hazy sunset by moving out to the patio and lawn to enjoy cocktails and dinner. The buffet was catered by Harborside Deli. OBRM board member Judy Wasilchuk worked with Harborside's Pete Giola to create a menu of authentic "dining car recipes" from the golden age of rail travel.

In preparation for the 8:27 pm sunset OBRM board member Gary Farkash made sure that the champagne glasses were full, the Yacht Club canon was fired, and all the guests, now gathered outside saluted the official (sort of) beginning of Summer.

The program began inside with President John Specce and Chairman Ben Jankowski thanking all those in attendance, and recognizing the corporate sponsors who helped make the evening a success. They also spoke of the Museum's progress to date, and the work yet to be done. Ben mentioned that "the Museum will play a pivotal part in making the connection between downtown and the waterfront." John said, "a functioning Oyster Bay Railroad Museum will create a family-friendly attraction that will be critical to the goal of making Oyster Bay a destination location."

"Summer" wasn't the only launch of the evening. The new Oyster Bay Railroad Museum's website- also made its debut. Joe Skopek and his superb Chromatrope team were critical allies in this important project. The new site represents the next step in the branding process that began last year with the deisgn of our new brochure. The colors selected were those that came into use by the Pennsylvania Railroad, former owner of the LIRR, in the 1930's. "Tuscan", a brick red, and gold leaf and buff used for lettering and striping by the PRR give the site a warmth and familiarity, especially to those who have an interst in trains. We chose a font that is clean and readable, but retains a classic quality. The new site represents another important step in the marketing and communications efforts of the Museum. It will introduce prospective supporters to our efforts to build a first class historical, educational and family-friendly resource for Oyster Bay and the region.

My hope is that as more people learn of our efforts they will be energized, become Museum Members, and "get on board" by financially supporting our mission.

- Bill Bell

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Night at the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum” by Bill Bell

Shortly before Christmas last year, the producer from NYEH Entertainment contacted us re their desire to shoot the final scenes of a film they were working on. "All God's Children"
is a romantic thriller and features numerous train and subway shots. The film's ending takes place in the OBRM Rail Yard, literally on the stairs of the vintage P-54 passenger coach.
Lots of conversations, negotiations and email exchanges took place throughout the winter, and on March 19th, the film crew and actors arrived in the late afternoon and began to prepare for the shoot that would take place after sundown and finish at 2:00 AM. The OBRM Preview Center served as the make-up room and press center. They invited me to join them for dinner at Canterbury's. During our lively conversation I learned that most of these talented young people had never tasted oysters! Most of them came from inland communities in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma. The rest is history - and they are no longer oyster amateurs.
Briefly, the movie theme is a disturbing tale of an normal young man who works by day as barista in a coffee shop - his life at night is anything but normal. I promised to reveal no more.

Those of you familiar with the Rail Yard will recognize the numerous, and somewhat eerie scenes shot there. The director told me that he was extremely pleased with the nighttime look of the yard, and the somewhat ominous feel it imparted.
The film will be released this summer. We are working on setting up an Oyster Bay Railroad Museum sponsored special screening for our local community.