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The National NYC Museum
At the end of July (2014) my eldest grandson and I took our annual railroading trip. This year we decided to visit The French Lick Scenic Railway in French Lick, Indiana and the National New York Central Museum in Elkhart, Indiana. The French Lick Railway train ride is documented on the Video page. This short photo essay focuses on the NYC Museum.
The National New York Central Museum is located at 721 South Main Street, across the tracks from the Elkhart, Indiana Depot in what was once a New York Central freight house. There are also a few small railroad related structures on the grounds that serve as workshops and storage sheds. They have a quite extensive collection of locomotives and rolling stock which includes NYC Mohawk #3001. NYC E-8 #4085, Pennsylvania/Penn Central GG1 #4084, several box cars, flats, a few special pupose cars and NYC cabeese. The star of the show is the Mohawk. The museum has begun a campaign to restore #3001, one of only two such locomotives to escape the scrapper.
New York Central Mohawk #3001 is the National MYC Museum's pride and joy. She is one of only two Mohawk locomotives in existance. A very impressive piece of machinery when you are standing in its shadow. A real plus is that visitors can climb up into the cab, twist valves and pull levers, look into the firebox and climb around on the tender. Fun for all ages. While the museum hopes to restore the loco I fear they have a monumental task ahead of them. Photogenic is not the same as mecanically sound or even complete. Several main components of the running gear, the whole firebox grate system and muriad small components of the locomotive are missing. And that is just what can be seen from without. I have no doubt that the locomotive could be restored, but it will be a long and costly undertaking. I wish them luck.
Here is the engineer's view through the front cab window on #3001. Notice how restricted it is. Very little forward visibility, a little to the right and none at all to the left.
Here is the view from the enineer's cab side window. A somewhat better view forward and to the right with minimal improvement to the left. No wonder you nearly always see the engineer leaning out of the side cab side window in images from the steam era.
In additon to #3001, NYC E-8 #4085 is a another major exhibit for the museum. The locomotive is berthed next to the loading platform of the old freight house with ramps ans stairs which provide access to the cab and to the engine compartment. Portions of the locomotive's shell, engines, generators and control cabinets are 'cut-away' so that museum visitors can see some of the interals of the major components.
The engineer's view through the windshield of NYC #4085 is surpisingly similar to the view its predessors had, though the engineer had the option of looking to the left through the fireman's windshield/windows on the cab diesels. You can see portions of the 'hood', NYC #3001 and PC #4882 together with some of the museum's rolling stock on storage tracks.
GG1 #4882, a former Pennsylvania/Penn Central locomotive is also on display on the storage tracks at the museum. No access to the inside of the locomotive was provides so visitors are limited to walk around this behemoth. It is sad to see such a magnificent example of 20th Century engineering wasting away in the Northern Indiana weather conditions. She is in great need of some tender loving care. If the exterior is any indication of the condition of her innards, she is in dire straits indeed.
NYC Bay window caboose #21084 is a typical example of the cabesse in use during the later decade or so of the NYC's lifetime. As can be seen in the photo, access to the inside of the car was provided by semi-permanent stairs. Unfortunately, the interior of #21084 was a disaster and not worth showing here. These cabeese are one of my favorites. I love the Jade Green paint and the large NYC logo..
While the interior of the NYC caboose was a mess, the conductor's seats, at least the frames, were in tact. This is the view a conductor would have had looking forward through the right hand (engineer's side) bay window. Fairly restricted actually. This is probably why many conductors are shown leaning out of the side windows of their cabeese in the many videos we have of NYC trains.
In a prominent place on the grounds of the National NYC Museum is this former NYC speeder/equipment shed painted in the lines famous grey and jade green colors. A location/depot sign prominent on both gabel ends proclaimes "Osceola". The building seems to be well kept and is used by the museum to store maintenace equipment.
The inside spaces of the National NYC Museum are divided into commercial, catering and exhibits. The former NYC Lounge/Parlor Car "City of Elkhart" is used for business meetings and private catered dinners. It is incoroporated into and accessible from, the main office complex of the Museum. The Museum Store has a good selection of NYC related photos and prints, some NYC related memorabilia and numerous trikets for young and old.
While walking from the office/entry to the main exhibit area a visitor pass through what appears to be a converted railroad car with exhibits on the right and left. This display of tools from the Elkhart shops gives the visitor some idea of the complexity and size of the equipment routinely services by railroad personnel.
At the end of the same coridor/car was a pair of lounge car chairs from the a lounge car on the 20th Century Limited. They appear to be of relatively modern design and purportedly were taken out of service in the mid-1940s. Just think of all the famous butts that might have graced this chair and its brothers.
One of the first exhibits inside the museum proper is a replica of a typical Station Office from the steam era or early transition period. With a maniquin dressed as a station master at his desk. Notice the old fashioned safe in the corner with the old style fan on top. And the spitoon at the bottom center near the desk. The exhibit is quite effective with a lot of period detail I think.
The next large exhibit was this one of railroad related signs, large track tools, lanterns and jacks. Unfortunately there were no labels or tags explaining what many of the larger tools were used for. Interesing enough though as a collection.
The museum has an extensive collection of Lionel trains. They are displayed in cases around the walls of their layout room. The three photos here show two sides of a large peninsula layout and the back shop or control area for the layout. According to the docent present while we were in the museum each train runs on its own loop of track. The trains are changed on a regular basis.
The National New York Central Museum is located across the tracks from the old Elkhart, Indiana Depot. Here the depot is in the background as a Canadian National train accelerates after a crew change. Between the museum and the depot are six tracks for three major railroads. Norfolk-Southern, Canadian National and CSX all pass by the museum. In addition, Elkhart is a major interchange center for Chicago traffic so almost any line can be seen passing by the museum's grounds. During our 2-3 hour visit at least 25 trains passed by the museum.
My grandson and I enjoyed our tour of the National New York Central Museum a great deal. The bigest attraction in my opinion are the locomotives and rolling stock displays. We enjoyed the opportunity to sit in the engineer's and fireman's seats and get a feel for what they might have seen and felt when the engines were active. I particularly enjoyed sitting on the conductor's bench in the NYC bay window caboose and look forward past a short string of cars for what must have been a quite authentic view. We enjoyed the museum, I hope you enjoyed this short photo tour.