"Faces of Essex Steam Train & Riverboat"
by Caryn B. Davis.
The show is made up of twenty-two, large format color photographs of Essex Steam Train & Riverboat employees at their workplace.
Dinner Train Conductor
My passion for trains was kindled when I received my first electric train at the age of 6. Having to travel alone by train as a youngster, I was always treated with care and compassion by railroad personnel and employees of the Pullman Company.
When I was old enough to visit engine terminals, hostlers often let me ride short distances. Eventually, in 1956, I landed a "summer relief" job at Central Vermont roundhouse in White River Junction, where I performed routine work on steam locomotives prior to dieselization.
No two days are ever alike! The opportunity to interact with so many people and to assist them in such a variety of situations is constantly exciting and rewarding. I love the challenge of "running live."
Road Foreman of Engines
I've had a lifelong love of railroads and am fortunate to have my passion be my work. My job includes instructing train crews in their duties and assisting them in developing railroad skills. I work with a great group of dedicated people and value helping them become safe and efficient, professional railroaders.
Superintendent, Track & Structures
I wanted to turn my hobby into my vocation. I knew I wanted to do more than just earn a living . . . I wanted my work to actually account for something. For me . . . a bad day at the Valley Railroad Company is better than a good day in the real world.
For the past eight seasons, I've been making the 100-mile trip up I-95 over fifty times per year to be a part of something special - - the steam locomotive is probably the most iconic machine in American history. Each day is a new adventure back in time.
It's magical! The smell of the locomotive, the sounds, the movement . . . driving into the parking lot you get the sense of the hustle and bustle of a railroad coming alive and all of the skills that it takes to "make it happen". The natural beauty of the Connecticut River and Becky Thatcher Riverboat add to the wonder.
Steve Jurczyk - Track & Signalman
My main job is track and signal maintenance. I came to Essex Steam Train & Riverboat with the electronic knowledge and trouble shooting skills to keep everything in good condition. The best part about working here is the variety of jobs that I do.
Bob LeBlanc - Conductor
After retiring as a project engineer in the plastics and rubber industry, I was invited to become part of the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat. The trains, passengers and fellow employees make it fun, and 18 years later . . . I still look forward to coming to work everyday.
Bob Wuchert - Operations/Safety Manager
Railroading has been a fascination for me as long as I can remember. I have fond memories of traveling frequently to New York City on the former NY, NH & H Railroad and loving every minute of the journey. As a railroad historian and author, being here on The Valley affords me the opportunity to live history and share my passion with my co-workers and our passengers. When I joined The Valley as a volunteer a decade ago, I never dreamed that one day it would become my profession.
Charlie Pike - Port Engineer
I like to tell people that the railroad found me in the bilge when they bought Becky Thatcher. The truth is that I was Port Engineer for Becky (plus 5 other boats) for 15 years prior. I'm glad that Becky Thatcher is still my baby.
J. David Conrad - Chief Mechanical Officer
My job is akin to being a zookeeper for dinosaurs.
All of our locomotives were obsolete and/or life expired when we got them.
We look like a museum, but our collection has to go out everyday and perform the way it did when it was in regular service in the "real" world.
Paul Horgan - Car Foreman
My interest in railroading began as a boy exploring the abandoned New York Ontario and Western Railroad, which ran past my grandparent's summer home and farm in Horton, New York.
I've parlayed my background as an electronic technician and construction worker into the restoration of train cars, including those on the Essex Clipper Dinner Train - - the Meriden, Wallingford and Colonial Hearth kitchen car.
Pete Fredrickson - Locomotive Engineer
Growing up on the Lackawana Railroad, in New Jersey, I enjoyed watching the express steam trains go through town. My first steam experience was in the Navy, as Chief Engineer of a steam turbine powered destroyer.
Years later, residing in Old Saybrook, I was invited to help work on No. 97. The sight of that engine all taken apart revived my dormant interest in steam locomotives and inspired me to become an employee of The Valley Railroad.
Bill Wolf - Master Mechanic
I'm the Parts Department at The Valley Railroad Company. I was hired in 1986, to use my tool and die maker skills as a Machinist. Since, the suppliers of steam locomotives and their accessories have faded into history, I manufacture our precision parts from scratch.
Bruce Edgerton - Locomotive Engineer
In 1966, at 18 years old, I had the unique opportunity to fire No. 97 on the first of several excursion trains on the New Haven Railroad. After being drafted into the U.S. Army, I fulfilled my military duty as steam locomotive repairman, hostler and engineer. Now I enjoy being back with my friend No. 97.
Mike Camara - Fireman
Working in the cab of the locomotive commands all of your senses: touch, sight, sound, and even smell come into play. A turn of a valve, a pull on the lever, a tweak of a regulator . . . bring the fabled iron horse to life, be it panting and sighing or heading down the track pulling hundreds of tons of coaches and passengers.
This is an involvement in one's work taken to an extreme level. Damn the computers, full steam ahead!
Wayne Hebert - Locomotive Foreman
Starting with my very first electric train set . . . I was hooked. The sight and sound of a steam locomotive leading a long, luxurious string of coaches, felt like magic. Essex Steam Train & Riverboat provides that same feeling. Being here, for me, is natural.
Elizabeth Holmes - Dinner Train & Parlor Car Attendant
On the North Pole Express, I look forward to stepping out of the Parlor Car, into the vestibule and the cold night air. From the smoke stack, the steam is billowing white as snow, surrounding me in a ghostly mist. I love to step back into the light of the Parlor Car, feel the warmth on my face and hear the voices of children singing Christmas carols.
Al Yeomans - Captain
Born and raised on the Connecticut River, I've always loved its' ever changing beauty. As Boat Captain for over 30 years, I never tire of sharing the natural wonders of the Connecticut River Valley with our passengers, so that each trip is the most enjoyable experience it can be.
Susan Dee - Marketing Manager
Every once in a while . . . something captures your heart and soul. For me it was the romance of steam and the historic significance of the only steam train and riverboat connection in the country.
I'm completely humbled to play a role in preserving and energizing this Connecticut icon, and to share it with passengers from all over the world.
Michael Lombardi - Office Manager
When I first started working at Essex Steam Train & Riverboat . . . it was just a job. However, I soon realized that I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with all different segments of the public. Mix in the dedicated staff I get to work with, and it's truly a place I enjoy coming to everyday.
Al Carbonell - Deckhand
My prior work experience at Pratt & Whitney involved teamwork, which is essential to the successful operation of a riverboat like Becky Thatcher. The most rewarding parts of my job are the great people I work with and the passengers I've met from all over the world.