Railway Preservation News

Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?
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Author:  junior [ Fri Aug 19, 2016 9:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?

Not nocking their efforts over the years, but between the negativity on Facebook and the fact that the place is run by seniors, is it any wonder they fail to draw visitors?

Open one day (maybe two) a week for 3 hours? C'mon. They publish a Free event, then condone it because no one showed up?....what does that say about the ones running it and their attitude toward their patrons?

Im sure if I walked in there and made some suggestions that would work to draw in new blood and visitors, I'd be met with harsh words dooming failure all around. Yes, they are indeed hampered by the construction, and as suggesteded, they should ride out the storm as low key as possible and relaunch the museum with new features, new faces and new ideas implemented once the roads are finished, or at least open to traffic.

Sadly, I don't see it happening just because of a solidly set mindset.

You can't have static displays with little interaction available and expect to survive. Their gift shop with its "unique items" ....tell me, what's unique about T-Shirts, hats, mugs, and decals?

President is on video saying there is a small area for kids to play with wooden trains.... whoopee! How about you pay attention to the other successful museums that focus on the kids first and the die hard rail fans fourth or fifth down the line.

Boats and Trains....can't get more kid friendly than that. I grew up on both and volunteered for both as I grew older, even despite my fear of open water!

Regroup, reorganize, reenergize and try again. What worked 30 years ago, ain't gonna work now or anytime soon.

They have a foundation...they just need to build on it.

Author:  Jennie K [ Sat Aug 20, 2016 10:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?

Boats, trains, and this is, it's the round building to the right in the satelite photo http://www.battleshipcove.org/fall-rive ... ship-cove/

Author:  Dougvv [ Sat Aug 20, 2016 2:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?


I can only speak for myself which might fit or might not fit the bulk of other museum patrons.

A static museum does not hold much interest for me for repeat business unless there are "experiences" to go with it. I was born in 1955. I ride trains a lot. I've chased them coast to coast.

1) Strasburg, PA - I've been there many times but riding the railroad is why I go. Crossing the street holds little interest unless I'm building a model.

2) The Railroad Museum of California is done very nicely and the car with the hydraulics and moving scenery at the windows is one of the best displays. I'd much rather spend my time at the Roaring Camp and Big Trees or the live steam track at Tilden Park (?).

3) People much younger than myself get involved with experience based computer games than with going out for the static based museums.

I suggest that there will always be some who want to see static museums. I think there are more looking for the experience based attractions.


Doug vV

Author:  Alan Walker [ Mon Aug 22, 2016 1:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?

Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
wesp wrote:

Just like some rail museums and excursion lines in the northern parts of North America go into hibernation for the winter after Christmas/Polar Express/Snow trains in early December, I've seen numerous attractions in the Southwest shut down for the heat of summer, and with good reason. (Though I did an on-foot/Light Rail "pub crawl" of widely-scattered Phoenix bars in 110-to-115-degree heat a couple years ago, and was more comfortable then that I am in these alledged "105-110 degree heat index" around here of late.)

Regarding seasonal shutdowns, the regional park system in Phoenix is now considering closing all park trails and prohibiting hiking in any of their parks on days that the high temperature is forecast to exceed 105 degrees. That after four people died this summer on park trails statewide.

Author:  Heavenrich [ Mon Aug 22, 2016 3:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?

Their 990 for 2015 as posted on Guidestar, shows they had less than 12,000 in income and negative net assets of about 8,000.

Hardly a solvent organization

Bob H

Author:  elecuyer [ Thu Aug 25, 2016 10:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?

Because I had learned of its closing, I decided to visit the Old Colony and Fall River Railroad Museum (OCFR) on Saturday, August 20th, 2016. I happened to be passing through Fall River exactly when they were scheduled to be open, so I figured I could spare an hour to try to find out what is going on.

I grew up not far from Fall River, and had visited Battleship Cove many times as a youngster. However, most of those visits pre-dated the creation of the adjacent railroad museum. A visit to Battleship Cove about 5 years ago did not yield enough time to visit the OCFR, but I did note that they were open.

The site is easily accessible to visitors of Battleship Cove, which is a major tourist attraction in the area. There are at least three other museums nearby (including the railroad museum) and other attractions (waterfront park, carousel, etc.) While all is in the shadow of the large bridge overhead, and some industrial sites nearby, the overall area is clean and safe. On this visit, the sun was shining and the temperature in the mid-70s – a perfect day to be out enjoying the local attractions.

The OCFR parking lot is small, but paved and adequate. I suspect most visitors park at Battleship Cove, then cross the street to visit the OCFR before walking back to their cars. I was greeted by a man and woman who were hanging out on the "porch" that looks across the street. The grounds are reasonably well kept and nothing seemed to be in dire need of repair, repaint, or restoration. Admission was a measly $3.

The first exhibit consists of a gutted Pennsylvania Railroad day coach, which has been outfitted with a nice set of displays outlining the history of rail operations in the Fall River area. It includes photos, artifacts and other small memorabilia, with each case representing an era of operations – from the 1800s to the present day. There is a small N gauge layout, some Lionel trains on display, and a wooden train table for the kids to play on.

Coupled to the coach is the most significant artifact, the Firestone RDC. This ex-New Haven Budd Car has local significance, having operated in commuter service to the Firestone plant in Fall River, and later as a MBTA commuter coach. The interior is pretty much as it was in service, except the luggage racks have been removed. There are some photos and signs explaining the car, and that it is missing two drive shafts and one of its engines (which were removed by the MBTA when they depowered their RDC fleet in the 1980s.)

Out the back of the RDC is the NYC (nee-Conrail) side view caboose. Like the RDC, it is pretty much original inside with desks, stove, etc. This leads you to the New Haven box car, which is outfitted with a video display (which was running a general movie on railroads) and many artifacts including track tools, a train order hoop, etc. Back out of the boxcar brings you to the entrance porch – where visitors can pull a whistle cord to sound a diesel locomotive horn.

The last major artifact is a medium sized shed which has "Fall River" signage. However, there is no indication of its heritage. Total visit time is 30-45 mins.


During my visit I met with Jay Chatterton, who appears to be the main force behind the museum. He provided me with this additional information (which he gave me permission to share publicly.) Please do not "shoot the messenger" or criticize his comments – he has read this discussion forum thread already and is choosing not to comment.

1. Attendance is way, way down to the point where the operation is unsustainable. The whole operation hinges on visitors to Battleship Cove, which has seen a massive reduction in its attendance. In fact, as he said this, we glanced over and observed no one going in or out of Battleship Cove. In years past, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the place would have been packed. He mentioned that I was his ONLY visitor all day (which remained true as he closed when I left.) On my way out I observed that the maritime museum down the street seemed equally deserted.

2. Battleship Cove has a very popular program that allows Boy (and Girl) Scouts to camp overnight on the vessel. However, the timing of that program changed such that it no longer allows campers time to explore the other area attractions. What used to be a very popular side trip to the OCFR (or other area museums) is no longer an option – by no fault of its own.

3. The museum is, in fact, closing on Sept. 4th – after 30 years of operation. Jay will be retaining the items from his personal collection (mostly small artifacts) and returning anything on loan to the museum to the rightful owners. He will then be deaccessioning the remaining artifacts, including the RDC, caboose, and box car. While he owns the ex-Pennsy coach, he will also offer that interested parties. He is doing everything "by the book" and is willing disclose the financials, etc.

4. His plan (underway) is to contact the local/regional railroad museums and preservation organizations – many of which he has existing relations; it is his intent that everything finds a good home. While he does have a switch to connect to the Mass Coastal rail line, it is my opinion that everything will have to be moved by truck. It's apparent that Jay is basically tired of running the organization, and is giving it up to move onto other things.

5. The ex-Pennsy coach is probably the item in most danger. He claims that the wheelset/trucks are in excellent shape – having been rebuilt by Amtrak just before retirement. (I'm no expert on that, so I have to take him at his word.) However, the body is in rough shape and (as mentioned) contains no seats, windows, or anything for hauling passengers. It would either make a good display car (as it is now) or sacrificed to lend its trucks to a more worthy car.

FYI, the local connection to this car is that it ended its service life as a commuter coach between Providence and Boston.

6. The box car is unique, as being the only surviving one of its class from the New Haven. It was rebuilt at the Readville shops outside of Boston and really should stay at a local railroad museum. Personally, I can think of several operations that could use this in photo-freights, etc. Jay claims that other than the fake wall he added to accommodate the video equipment, it is 100% original inside and out (and it looks that way to this observer.)

7. I asked Jay about the "Fall River" shack. It was reconstructed from the burnt out remains of the yardmaster office from Pawtucket, RI. The Fall River signs are not authentic. He opened it for me to reveal a nicely done yardmaster office, with desk, stove, and other supplies. It could easily fit on a flatbed truck and would fit right in at any rail yard.

8. The land the museum sits on is owned by the State of Massachusetts.


In short, it was clear that a lot of thought, planning and work went into creating this museum. It was a good look into the region's railroad heritage – set in an ideal location for a quick stop. It was just the right size to be a coat-tail operation against Battleship Cove, but if no one is visiting the main attraction, there's not much one can do.

I recalled my last visit to Battleship Cove five years prior, and the place was lively and vibrant; today, it was not. Moreover, I recalled hearing the diesel whistle several times that day – not knowing where it was coming from (it is near an active rail line.) Now I realize it was likely different families taking turns blowing the horn from the OCFR front porch, a simple enjoyment that will be lost at summer's end.

After I left, I continued on to my sister's house for a cookout. One out-of-town guest who was not familiar with the area asked a local what there was to do in Fall River. The local person immediately started talking about Battleship Cove, along with the adjacent maritime and train museum. Unfortunately, the Old Colony and Fall River Railroad Museum will no longer be there, should the out-of-town guest choose to explore Fall River next summer.

Author:  Cameron Wolk [ Thu Aug 25, 2016 3:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?

Well in that case someone get ahold of Howard Pincus. I can imagine that the Firestone and the NH boxcar would be of great interest considering the Naugy's origins. This got me thinking lately why not get the city involved and designate the museum an annex of the local historical society. It wouldn't be the best savior out there but it sure could preserve any existing work that has been conducted thus far, if not better than a full closure.


Author:  Rick Rowlands [ Thu Aug 25, 2016 7:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?

Thanks for the detailed report.

This begs the question, why is visitorship way down to Battleship Cove?

Author:  Al P. [ Thu Aug 25, 2016 9:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?

The problem with all New England museums right now is that they have collected far to much stuff over the years, and are trying to shed the worst pieces themselves. this inevitably costs some money in itself because no one wants the headache of scraping these cars when the price of steel is so low. if folks want to see this equipment saved they need to consider raising the funds to delivering them to the various organizations, because no one has a budget for moving them any time soon, as good or bad as they are.

Al P.

Author:  PCook [ Thu Aug 25, 2016 9:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?

Hot Metal wrote:
This begs the question, why is visitorship way down to Battleship Cove?

Here are "some" influencing factors, there are likely many others that could be identified:

1. The massive Route 79 and Braga Bridge interchange reconstruction program has been going on for several years and has made access to the Battleship Cove area more complicated. Recently some of the interchange has been reopened which is helping the situation, but it has been difficult for area merchants and tourist attractions for a long time. http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/route79project/Home.aspx

2. When the Battleship MASSACHUSETTS was brought to Fall River it attracted a considerable traffic in World War II. Navy ship reunions. This in turn benefited the local hotels and restaurants and adjacent tourist attractions. Now the World War II. generation is passing from the scene and the population of postwar USN veterans to attend reunions is much smaller. Two friends who were WW2 USN veterans are now 95 and 97 years old respectively, they don't go to reunions any more (if their ships still have any). They were in their early 20's when they served in World War Two. We now aren't a lot of years away from the point where all the WW2 veterans will have passed. Consider that a veteran who was 18 years old in 1941 is 93 years old now.

This is a lot like the situation with railroad industry retirees. Those who have been retired five years now mostly started working in the late 1960's and early 1970's. And if they were not railroad enthusiasts, chances are that the 1940s and 1950s are not of great interest to them. The demographics, the areas of interest, and the history threshold in the hobby are changing as we watch.

3. Fall River and neighboring New Bedford are in very difficult shape economically. I am not in a position to post exact numbers but a usually reliable media-based source who lives in the area tells me that unemployment measured by the "old" method (pre-1990's) is now almost as bad as it was in the Great Depression and that about 50% of the households in NB and FR are now on some form of public assistance. Area news sources are constantly discussing the difficult financial situation for area charities. So the conditions for local people being financial supporters of area charity and non-profit organizations are not very good.

Anyone with better information please feel free to post.


Author:  thebigham [ Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?

http://www.heraldnews.com/news/20160904 ... r-30-years

LAST CALL: Fall River railroad museum closes after 30 years
By Michael Holtzman
Herald News Staff Reporter

FALL RIVER — At 3 p.m. sharp on a sunny Sunday, across from Battleship Cove and in the shadow of the Braga Bridge, the train whistle sounded for the final time.

The Old Colony and Fall River Railroad Museum that President Jay Chatterton began 30 years ago was closing shop for good.

Even the Haunted Rail Yard that brought thrills and frights each Halloween for a dozen years is now an event of the past.

“No more. I’ll actually have a weekend off,” Chatterton joked with a group of railroad buffs and well-wishers from Cape Cod.

“It’s always sad to see things like this go,” said Ron Costa, visiting with his wife, Diane, as they have in the past.

They were aware Sunday was the last hurrah.

So was Neil Langille from Buzzards Bay, with his wife, Maureen. “We’ve been by it many times,” he said, but this was their first visit knowing it was the last chance.

“It’s a shame it’s closing,” said Langille, taking photo mementos. “A lot of fantastic museums have bit the dust.”

“There’s a lot of nice memorabilia,” Maureen Langille said inside the exhibits of one of the four diverse railroad cars on the landmark premises at 2 Water St.

Chatterton, a retired teacher, detailed some of the train car history like average folks would describe the rooms of a house they’d lived in for decades.

After Diane Costa said the caboose was her favorite of the four rail cars they settled into their homes on old tracks between roughly 25 and 30 years ago, Chatterton replayed its travel.

Built in 1963 and painted turquoise from the New Central System, after Conrail donated it to the museum in 1991 they painted it red, replete with the Old Colony and Fall River logo on it, Chatterton said...

Author:  Cjbdiesel [ Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?

Now it's just a matter of time before we see "Fall River equipment needs a home" show up on the front page. A shame nonetheless...

- Christian B.

Author:  tomgears [ Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?

They had a dream and did a lot of work. They did the best they could with who and what they had. Not much different than the rest of our beloved organizations.

In spite of their best efforts things didn't work out. Let's hope they made an impact on a few people over the last 30 years as they dispose of the artifacts in a responsible manner.

Author:  elecuyer [ Tue Jan 31, 2017 2:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?

Trains News Wire is reporting that the RDC is going to the Berkshire Scenic Railroad for their Adams-North Adams service.

New Haven Railroad RDC-1 No. 42 will be transferred to the [Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum]'s care from the Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum in Fall River, Mass. The Old Colony closed in 2016. [...] Museum volunteers intend to restore the car to operating condition.

Requires Trains subscription:

Author:  Stephen Hussar [ Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum Closing?

I was passing through Fall River yesterday, stopped in at Battleship Cove, and went across the street to see what was happening at the OCFR Museum. This company, http://www.rhinehartrailroad.com/ was doing some work at the site. Unfortunately I didn't have time to ask what was happening...


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