When did the Indiana and Ohio Railroad remove the dynamic brakes from the used GP-9 they purchased?
When I found out that I was going to be lucky enough to attend the NMRA National Convention in Atlanta, I realized that I would have to pass through Chattanooga on my way back. I had never been to the NMRA Headquarters (which we have all helped pay for) and decided that on my way back that this was too good an opportunity to pass up.
I got directions from the NMRA staff who were manning the booth at the convention, and left Atlanta at 6:00 a.m. My friend, who was riding with me, and I arrived before the staff (speed limits between Atlanta and Chattanooga are apparently non-existent and to avoid being run down we got there much sooner than I had planned!).
The first staff member there (despite being up late the night before welcoming the arrival of her new niece) was Connie Rudd. Connie runs the administrative side of things and if you ever had a problem with your membership she is probably the one you spoke to. Connie made us feel very welcome, gave us a tour of the administrative side of the headquarters, and made a pot of coffee which was most appreciated. Then she turned us over to David Lowe and Sarah Gaither, the research associates at the Kalmbach Memorial Library.
Sarah gave us a tour of the library and a general outline of operations. It was a unique experience to me. I have done research before at university libraries and historical societies and have dealt with some helpful librarians, but the usual attitude is “don’t touch.” This was different, we were invited and encouraged to look through the materials. It really gave me the feeling that this was my library and David and Sarah were really committed to working for us. If you are interested in Official Railway Guides, they have a bunch of them including reprints of several from before 1900. If there is a particular railroad and year that you are interested in, they can make a copy of it for you. I got a copy from the 1870 guide of the Kansas Central that I sent to the editor of the Kansas Central Division’s Brass Pounder.
In addition to picking up a new copy of the NMRA tape/slide/video clinics, Sarah also gave us a copy of the books that the library has for sale. These are the over stocked volumes that the library has received through donations. These extra volumes are offered for sale to the membership and the funds raised are used to support the on-going work of the library. This keeps the books in the NMRA family. I had seen the notice in the last couple of issues of The Bulletin about the books, but had not gotten around to sending for the list. I can tell you that the condition of the surplus books listed is very accurate, the prices are fair, and I ended up taking three of them home with me. In addition, if there is a book that you are looking for to add to your personal library, they will take your name and address and contact you if they should ever have an excess copy in the future.
Of course, aside from preservation, the main purpose of the library is research on both modeling and prototype subjects. As part of your membership, you are entitles to a certain amount of “free” research each year. According to Sarah, they are sending out answers to approximately 150 research requests a month. When you consider that the Kalmbach Memorial Library staff consists of the director and two research associates, that is a pretty good work load, especially since your research is not their only duty. Frankly, this is not a benefit that I had taken advantage of because I model my own freelance railroad and I always thought that this was one of those “benefits” belonging to the NMRA that I would rarely, if ever, use.
A couple of months before going to the convention, I was trying to find information on the US Military Railroad operations at City Point, VA during 1864-65 for a project. Having eliminated all of the local sources, I had written the library on the scant hope they might have something.
When we had finished the tour and David and Sarah had explained the research process, I asked about the status of the research project I had submitted. Now either David checked his records while Sarah gave us the library tour, or he has an extremely good memory, but he knew what I had requested without me reminding him. It turns out that David, who was previously employed by the Federal Park Service at the Chattanooga Battlefield site, had some information, but was doing more of the research at home through his own materials, and promised an answer, with other possible sources from the National Archives, shortly. In the meantime, he asked if I wanted to check the periodical listings for material on the Civil War. I didn’t figure there would be anything that I didn’t already have, but told him to go ahead. In about five minutes, David had a list of articles (including one in Trains Magazine, a source I had never even thought to check). Ten of the articles were unknown to me, but in ten minutes, for a small copying fee, I had copies of them all to take home with me. My friend was so impressed with the speed of the search and the quantity of materials that David was able to find, that he asked David the question leading off this article. David when into the library and in a few minutes returned with the answer.
The Indiana and Ohio GP-9 was originally built for the Seaboard Railroad, later the Seaboard Cost Line. the engine was sold to the J.D.D. Company in Louisville, KY in 1960. The dynamic brakes were removed at that time.
I was very impressed with my visit to the NMRA Headquarters. I didn’t have a chance to really speak with either Peter Jehrio or Gregg Ames, we weren’t the only conventioneers stopping by on the way home, but they were well represented by the three staff members that I did spend some time with, Connie Rudd, Sarah Gaither and David Lowe. After my visit, I feel good about the part of my dues that go to finance the Kalmbach Memorial Library, and who knows, I may come up with another strange request that I can try to stump David and Sarah with.
Both the NMRA Headquarters and the Kalmbach Memorial Library welcome visitors. If you are ever in Chattanooga, it is well worth your time to stop in and check out the facilities for yourself and see what your dues are accomplishing. If you do, tell Connie, Sarah and David that I said hello!
The library staff welcomes your research projects and information requests. You can submit your request either by letter or by calling the library at the number listed in The Bulletin.