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To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the railroad, three generations of Livonia, Avon & Lakeville locomotives were posed under threatening skies outside the shop at Lakeville, N.Y., on May 9, 2015. On the far track was LA&L Alco C425 No. 425, RS36 No. 418, and C425 No. 428; the next track was Alco RS1 No. 20 and caboose 2603 (built for Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh in 1918 as No. 252); and finally Rochester Gas & Electric GE 45-ton No. 1941 (formerly LA&L No. 97, the railroad’s very first locomotive purchased in 1965). PHOTO BY CONNOR SHORT, LIGHTING BY STEVE BARRY

problem.” So what would we do for lighting? I placed a phone call to The Best Boss in The Whole World™ [Oh, really? —S.B.] and asked if he would be interested in taking a trip to Rochester in May. Oh, and could you bring your Alien Bees? [I see how it is. —S.B.] The machine was set into motion by mid-March. Enough snow had melted so we could finally access our coaches to start work on adding a fourth car to the consist. Dave Shields began assembling his team of volunteer car hosts, train serice technicians, ticket booth attendants, medics, concession workers, and many others. Wegmans started selling tickets by the end of the month and the first few orders began to trickle in. By April our first newspaper ads hit and

that trickle turned into a deluge. Our vice president and chief mechanic Joe Nugent prepared RG&E 1941 for movement. Gene Blabey asked me, “Could we use the muse- um’s coaches for our own private trip on May 6?” Absolutely! (But this meant moving up our work schedule to have them ready a week earlier.) Volunteers Rob Burz and Dave Peet managed the repair work on the fourth coach. Dave Shields got the air conditioning systems checked out, while others worked on the toi- lets. By the end of April the school buses were reserved and both trains were nearly sold out. An LA&L crew arrived early on the morn-

ing of May 2 to pick up our coaches from our siding at Industry. After a few minutes of work, four coaches plus the RPO Alonzo B. Cornell (used as our tool car and housing the HEP generator) headed south to Lakeville. Wednesday, May 6, dawned bright and

sunny, perfect weather for the railroad’s own private excursion (see RAILNEWS page 14). Volunteer Dave Shields rode the train as technician to tend to the generator, and also as host dressed in his New York Central conductor’s uniform. The trip ran flawlessly (and the air conditioning did its job on what turned out to be a very warm day). Saturday morning was the big event. The

train was spotted at the loading area next to the Conesus Lake Sportsmens Club in Lake- ville by 8:30 a.m., and our volunteers had a safety briefing with the LA&L crew at 8:45.

People were already lined up to check in and board, and by 9:00 the parking lot was filling up. It was fun to see the seats of our coaches populated with people excited to take a train trip with us. At 9:45 I switched on the P.A. system and channeled the spirit of every Metro-North conductor I ever knew growing up: “Good morning, laidies and gentlemen, and welcome aboard your ten o’clock 50th Anniversary of the Livonia, Avon & Lakeville Railroad Excursion, presented by the volunteers of the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum...” A reporter from Time Warner Cable in Rochester rode along the first trip and filed a wonderful story about our train and the peo- ple who rode it. Many were taking their first train ride ever. Some were reliving memories of days past. Most importantly, everyone was having a great time. As Dave Shields and I walked the length of the train, all we saw were smiling faces and heard many “thank yous.” Of course, there were a few minor hiccups.

I’m sure Joe Nugent got tired of me calling on the radio, “Hey, can you please check the toilet in Car 2, again?” Towards the end of the day the air conditioning began to fail in Car 3, which was also the concessions car, which was also where I was stationed. One lady lost her cell phone (and it was turned off). All things considered, everything was going as well as could be expected. The ride was incredibly smooth as we rolled on LA&L’s welded rail. Occasionally I glanced out the window

and saw a railfan snapping our picture, or a family standing the backyard waving to us as we rolled by. I was relieved as we approached the end of our second run without incident. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching our destination of Lakeville, please take this time to look around you for your personal belongings, and thank you for supporting the volunteers of the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum...” As soon as everyone was clear the crew

put the train away and spotted the road power in front of the shop for the night photo session. Our GE switcher and LA&L’s RS1 and caboose were already in position. Steve Barry, Michael Burkhart, and I checked the

final positioning of everything before the train crew marked off for the day. The photo session was scheduled to begin

at 8:00 p.m., so we headed to dinner. We en- joyed some delicious barbecue at the Three- Legged Pig in Lakveville, running into our friends Andrew and Chris Blaszczyk while we were there. They came up to chase the trains and to take part in the night photo session. As dusk fell we headed back to the LA&L

shops to get ready for the night photo session. After some brief introductions and ground rules, Steve and Michael got their lights set up for the first shot around 8:00 p.m. Threat- ening clouds loomed in the distance, and we hoped they would hold off long enough to get some exposures recorded before the rain fell. A few test fires and a few hurried snaps are all we got off before it began to pour. We frantically grabbed lights and rushed into the safety of the shop building. A quick check of the radar revealed we

were now stuck in a band of rain showers that did not appear to be letting up any time soon. Both Steve and Michael appeared to have lost one functioning Alien Bee to the rain (sorry, guys. Did I mention Steve is The Best Boss in The Whole World™?), which also reduced the amount of available lighting. Since everything was already set up, we went to Plan B: Set up inside the shop and shoot out towards the trains. We managed to do several shots from inside, including a few actors posing with the equipment. While it wasn’t as many photos as we had hoped for, we made the best of it. By 10:00 p.m., we thanked LA&L trainmaster Rick Rubino for his hospitality and packed up to head for home. There was one more very important piece of business to take care of, however. I promised Steve and Michael the authentic Rochester experience of enjoying a late-night delicacy simply called the “Garbage Plate.” We headed straight to the original Nick Tahou Hots located in the old Baltimore & Ohio (nee- Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh) terminal on West Main Street. By 11:00 p.m. I was enjoying a cheeseburg-mac-homefries-no-onion and reflecting on a very long, exhausting, and enjoyable day. —OTTO M. VONDRAK


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