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Messages - Stephen Piwowarski

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Volunteers / Re: WW&F Offering Workshops for 2019 Season Car Hosts
« on: March 16, 2019, 01:41:50 PM »

Thanks for the compliments though I am motivated by the energy I get from all of the good people I am surrounded by here- the ideas, excitement and energy all fuel my passion to bring the WW&F and its story to new audiences and individuals while continuing the great work of rebuilding the railway.

As I will be working on the plans for each of the meeting days, the documents I develop will form the basis for an electronic summary I can later send to you and others who are interested. Maybe they could event get posted to the forum!

I will tell you that the two resources that form the basis for the training are the Museum Guide authored by Bill Reidy along with the 28 page pamphlet "Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway: the Sheepscot Valley Narrow Gauge" published last year by the Museum. For starters, these are a good jumping off point.

Wayne L. pointed out an important detail- the Car Host program is great for someone who would like to take on an active role in the public, operational side of the railway without the responsibilities of a brakeman, conductor, etc. It is also low-impact physically, as hosts are encouraged to sit with passengers and have one on one or small-group, personal conversations, rather than standing and addressing an entire car of people.

Volunteers / WW&F Offering Workshops for 2019 Season Car Hosts
« on: March 15, 2019, 02:09:07 AM »
The WW&F is seeking volunteers to serve as car hosts on our trains this season. The Museum will be offering a series of workshops to train car hosts at the Museum’s 97 Cross Road campus in Alna on March 23, March 30 and April 6. Classes will begin each day at 9AM and will generally end by 2PM.

   The car host’s job is to engage and interact with visitors, sharing interesting information about the railway and surrounding region and answer visitor’s questions. The workshops will provide you with all the materials and resources you need to be a successful car host. No previous experience is necessary, but a desire to interact with our visitors and help offer them a meaningful, personal experience will be helpful. Becoming a car host is also a great introduction to other volunteer positions available on the railway. Volunteer who are already active with the Museum are also welcome to attend the sessions as they will go over WW&F history and public interaction techniques.

   To participate in workshops either call the Museum at 207-882-4193 with your name and contact information or send an email with the same to visitor interaction coordinator Steve Piwowarski at

Work and Events / Re: Mountain Extension - Official Work Thread
« on: March 12, 2019, 07:02:41 PM »
Sounds good. I think you jogged my memory. Maybe I was there for that. In any case, maybe we'll get a chance to sit down together this coming Saturday at some point.

Work and Events / Re: Mountain Extension - Official Work Thread
« on: March 12, 2019, 03:25:15 PM »
If we do rent that wood chipper, can we blow some wood chips onto a flatcar for use at Alna Center in the picnic grove? That way we won't need to buy and will recover some cost of renting the chipper by making/using our own chips.


Museum Discussion / Re: Sources for period clothing?
« on: February 22, 2019, 03:54:42 AM »
Thanks for the note about the herringbone pattern work clothes Steve. Wayne, there is a book called Firing on the Pennsy by Paul Dietz who fired out of Crestline. He mentions wearing his regular street clothes under his work clothes. Not sure how widespread that practice was.

In the photos I've seen from the WW&F there is a big variety, probably partially due to the fact that over the Railroads 39 year period of operation from 1894-1933 there was a huge change in fashion- and I don't mean high fashion. What people wore- both to work and elsewhere- changed dramatically over that time.

I've seen photos of WW&F crews in later years (I'd say post 1920) wearing baggy overalls and work clothes and definitely a couple chore coats thrown in for good measure. Earlier on, photos show lots of pants with suspenders, ties and detachable collars.

One thing that has always interested me- has anyone seen a photo of a WW&F conductor or train crew in a traditional uniform?


Museum Discussion / Re: Sources for period clothing?
« on: February 21, 2019, 12:44:44 PM »
That's ok Bob! Here's the story:

So, the jackets you often see engineers, fireman, conductors (on freights, mostly) and brakeman wearing are known as 'chore coats'. They are handy because they have multiple pockets that are convenient for rule books, timetables, ticket punches, etc. They are typically made of the same denim as overalls and are often

I've seen some pictures of steam crews wearing them under oversized bib overalls like a shirt. I always presumed this is because they are wearing a set of street clothes and covering them up with their chore coat and overalls.

I really like wearing the Herringbone one as a conductor over my vest, because it is a little more refined in appearance compared to a typical unwashed denim one. However, I suppose you could wear it on the engine too. It's just has more white in it so it will show the dirt more.


Museum Discussion / Re: Sources for period clothing?
« on: February 20, 2019, 01:54:14 PM »
Hi All,

Just found these this morning. I really like the herringbone pattern chore coat I got from L.C. King (Pointer Brand) a few years ago. It was a factory second I purchased at the factory store in Bristol, VA/TN, so the price was right, however Pointer Brands regular pricing is out of my league.

I recently found another source for a similar Fisher Herringbone chore coat made by Universal Overall out of Chicago. They are now discontinued, but there are many sizes left, and the price, at just around 20 with shipping, is excellent!

You can get them on ebay from Youruniformsource here:

or through their website here:

Take care,

Volunteers / Re: February 2019 Work Reports
« on: February 20, 2019, 03:14:21 AM »
Thanks for the kind words guys. I do love serving as conductor, and it is my pleasure to get people to their destination safely, and help them enjoy their time visiting the railway. The not yelling but being able to be heard thing is definitely a teacher thing.

One of the nice benefits of coming into Sheepscot with just the last vestibule on the platform is the privilege of personally thanking each of our passengers for traveling with us as they detrain and sharing a last moment with them.

I find that I don't talk too much about the railroad, other than usually touching on where the railway ran (based on our ticket) why narrow gauge was used, and some of the impacts the railroad had on life. Mostly, I want to know who our riders are, where they come from, why they are visiting us and how they are doing. Railroad therapy, as it were. The personal connection is real- in its day, the narrow gauge had a small number of conductors and they developed meaningful relationships and friendships with their passengers- that is part of the experience I strive to capture.

Work and Events / Re: Steam & Sleighs Recap
« on: February 19, 2019, 11:39:21 AM »
I manned the caboose/hut and found that the January Saturday had sparse attendance - only about three parties of two each. The February Saturday event was more active - perhaps ten parties of two each. I don't know about the February Sunday event. Perhaps someone else can comment.

On Sunday, we probably had quite a few detrain for activities at ToM.
12 on the 10:30 train,
about 10 on the noon train
and 8 on the 1:30 train

We also had folks exploring the old Averill rd. in both directions on snowshoes at AC.


Work and Events / Steam & Sleighs Recap
« on: February 19, 2019, 02:25:00 AM »
Hi all,

With January and February's Steam & Sleighs events now in the rearview, I wanted to provide some info regarding the events. In three days (January 19, February 16 & 17) we carried right around 500 passengers (give or take a few). This past Sunday was our busiest day with just over 200 riders.

It was a wonderful time and we got to interact with lots of new, first time visitors, which always puts a smile on my face, along with returning visitors as well. I was serving as conductor on Sunday and got to see one of my students (who was as surprised to see me as I was to see them!) Despite some minor hiccups each day, passengers had consistently nice things to say, and had a great time.

Here's what some had to say (from Facebook):

"We had a great time at the Railway today and on the Sleigh Ride"

"Today’s adventure..ride on a steam train, sleigh ride turkey tracks, and our conductor who punched hearts in my ticket. Great time... and beautiful weather!"

"Who wants to go to the 19th century."

"Fantastic day at Steam and Sleigh! Highly recommend this adventure and hope you do it again next year!!"

Our volunteers did an amazing job crewing the events and hosting our visitors, but also before and after, putting lots of time into making sure the parking lot was cleared and sanded, station platforms were shoveled off, feeding crews, and keeping the line open in the midst of the constant freeze/thaw cycles which ensured that there were always flangeways to clear and ice to pick out around switches. Thank you!

500 riders is 1/10 of our total ridership from last year. Here we are in February and we are already off to a great start for the year. More importantly, we've made new friends and introduced many more to this special place and they've learned a bit more about it. The questions and comments from our passengers were fantastic. Looking forward to a great year.

Museum Discussion / Re: Map of WW&F Museum
« on: February 01, 2019, 07:43:23 AM »
No, those 'plans' have not been cancelled, but there never was an official 'plan' either.

Right now we are concentrating our effort on completing the Mountain Extension. We are already beginning to assess in which direction to extend track next and how far. That being said, extending to The Head Tide area might not be the next thing to happen, but it is on the table.

Rest assured that an announcement will be made at an appropriate time once a decision has been made.

Volunteers / Re: January 2019 Work Reports
« on: January 29, 2019, 02:12:11 AM »
Thank you all for representing the Railway this weekend! Wondering about conversations that were had at the table- were there any really interesting questions or new folks interested in memberships/volunteering?

Hi All,

James Patten has volunteered to represent the Railway at the Whitefield Lions Train Show in Augusta on Saturday February 16th. Thank you James!

The show is at the Augusta Armory at 179 Western Avenue in Augusta and runs from 10AM until 3:30PM.

Are there 1-2 more volunteers who would be able to join James at the show to represent the WW&F? I've heard it is typically a good, fairly well attended show, with good sales for the WW&F.

Let us know if you can be there by responding in this thread- That way James can plan his coffee consumption on whether he is able to leave the table or not. :)


Museum Discussion / Re: Smithsonian RR tours and the WW&F
« on: January 25, 2019, 06:07:26 AM »
Not to seem anachronistic, but I believe part of the charm and authenticity of our Railway is being able to avoid these sort of 'concessions to modernity' or 'infringements' as they could be considered.

Hopefully the car host program can help resolve this issue, but we should continue to look for ways to balance technology with the need to maintain authenticity.


Volunteers / Re: January 2019 Work Reports
« on: January 20, 2019, 07:17:28 AM »
Good day today. I believe when I checked with Linda, she said their were approximately 168 paying passengers, not including the approximately 20 or so volunteers who rode the train north to participate in the brush clearing on the Mountain Extension. I say 'approximately' because we have had some trouble with our online ticket reservation software which made accounting for the exact number of passengers difficult. Needless to say it was a good day, passengers and volunteers alike seemed to have a good time- there were lots of kids and families and most had big smiles on their faces.

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