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 Post subject: William L. Withuhn, 1941-2017
PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:56 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8396
Location: Baltimore, MD
One of the most dynamic forces in forming American rail preservation into a cohesive moment has died.

http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/20 ... thuhn-dies

(Not behind the paywall.)

Kevin Keefe writes:

Quote:
Any account of railroading in the past four decades would be incomplete without including the formidable contributions of William L. Withuhn, whose work as a historian, museum professional, journalist, author, shortline executive, preservationist, and engineering consultant is without precedent. He is best known for his nearly 30-year career at the Smithsonians’s National Museum of American History, where he was curator of transportation. . . .


Withuhn’s work at the Smithsonian was hugely successful. In addition to overseeing the creation of several major and minor exhibits – including the expansive, permanent “America On the Move” – he was an effective fundraiser for the museum, leading to $31 million in contributions from various corporations and individuals. Throughout his tenure he was a frequent consultant on film and television projects, as well as a frequent expert on railroading for the Wall Street Journal.

Always an evangelist for responsible preservation, Withuhn consulted for most of the leading U.S. railroad museums, including the B&O Railroad Museum, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, the California State Railroad Museum, and the Steamtown National Historic Site. He created a novel affiliate program that allowed several museums to share resources with the Smithsonian.


Last edited by Alexander D. Mitchell IV on Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: William L. Withuhn, 1941-2017
PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:05 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3054
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Although I never got to meet him, I will miss him.


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 Post subject: Re: William L. Withuhn, 1941-2017
PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:38 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
Posts: 1607
Location: Pottstown,Pa.
Bill helped me with a number of projects through the years most notably the American Freedom Train wherein he and the late Don Ball were very helpful in our being able to borrow many of the 512 original artifacts ( from 285 museums) that made the AFT a "must see" across the land.

Bill was a friend and fellow steam lover who will be missed.

R.I.P.

Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: William L. Withuhn, 1941-2017
PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:11 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:10 am
Posts: 2332
This is sorrowful news, and still shocking even though he'd been ill. He was a valued mentor and advisor on Project3713. I first met him as a teen, and he found both the time and the will to give a budding whatever I was his perspective on preservation. To reconnect with him 30 years later was a treat. He was the type of person who knew how to make an impact. His personal tips and theories on steam marketing are a treasured part of my library.

RIP


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 Post subject: Re: William L. Withuhn, 1941-2017
PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:53 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 1250
Location: Strasburg, PA
Unwelcome news. No mention in the obituary of his work in the Engineering Standards Committee.

If I have my facts straight, it was created circa 1991 during a brainstorming phone call between Bill and Linn Moedinger about what to do about the sorry state of the Steam Locomotive Inspection Law, the old Part 230. The committee was formed and met several times per year on a volunteer basis to hammer out a draft of what was to become the current Part 230, which was sent to the FRA and shelved with no action.

Fast forward to June 1995. When Gettysburg dropped the crown sheet on their locomotive, the FRA was talking about what to do, and their knee jerk reaction was going to be an order retiring all steam locomotives forthwith. That is until it was pointed out to them that the ESC had submitted that draft to them, which had it been in place would have helped to prevent that incident. With egg of their face, FRA enthusiastically participated in the process, resulting in the adoption of the new Part 230 about four years later.

The operation of steam locomotives in the US might have ended for good in 1995 had if not been for the proactive work of Bill Withuhn and the other members of ESC.

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"It was not easy to convince Allnutt. All his shop training had given him a profound prejudice against inexact work, experimental work, hit-or-miss work."
C. S. Forester

Strasburg Rail Road Mechanical Department


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 Post subject: Re: William L. Withuhn, 1941-2017
PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:07 pm 
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Very sorry to hear this.

Back twenty or so years ago when I was developing the story board for a program, Bill was very helpful in reviewing it and recommending some of its first showings. He was very generous and gracious in providing assistance.

PC

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Advice from the multitude costs nothing and is often worth just that. (EMD-1945)


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 Post subject: Re: William L. Withuhn, 1941-2017
PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:16 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8396
Location: Baltimore, MD
Kelly Anderson wrote:
Unwelcome news. No mention in the obituary of his work in the Engineering Standards Committee.


Quote:
Withuhn is known to two generations of readers for several landmark articles in the magazine, usually about high-performance steam. Among them . . . “Steel, Steam & Safety,” from May 2000, a manifesto for overhauling steam regulations, written as part of his role as co-chair of the Federal Railroad Administration’s Steam Standards Task Force.


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 Post subject: Re: William L. Withuhn, 1941-2017
PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:28 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:37 pm
Posts: 216
Bill was a remarkable guy in the rail preservation field, and one of the most articulate and intellectual chaps I have ever run across. Unlike many scholars he also had experience running and firing the real machines that he studied and could put that wisdom into his work. I visited him at the Smithsonian many times over the years, and his office was always a beehive of activity. Jack White once told me that Bill was always 'one project away from his next conquest!' One of his crowning achievements is his magnum opus - a ms technology history of the modern steam locomotive in America, 1880-1960 which myself and a few other scholars are working with Bill's widow to get published in the near future. It is adapted from his Ph.D dissertation (ABD) from Cornell which was begun in the late 1970s but sadly one which he did not live to see published.

K.R. Bell


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 Post subject: Re: William L. Withuhn, 1941-2017
PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:21 pm 
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Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 1:15 pm
Posts: 1262
Location: Henderson Nevada
I first met Bill at a Virginia & Truckee Symposium, in Carson City in the late 1990’s. He was the key note speaker… a friend and I assigned the task of taking him across the street for a drink at a historic bar after the banquet while museum staff settled up with the facility…

That evening there were lively and humorous conversations about railroad research (a presentation at a previous symposium ran for about 4 hours about rivet patterns on V&T 4 wheel ore cars… we could only agree that it was well researched… and we were glad that someone “knew”), about room keys (Carson City hotels still used brass keys much to his surprise) cars hitting deer (his rental had deer damage from a previous rental) and the differences in life in DC and Nevada…

I later was contacted to identify the paint color and lettering for the wood SP box car set piece in the “American on the Move”…

Later, after he retired, we were both working on a preservation study for V&T 17, once Governor Stanford’s car at the Golden Spike ceremony at Promontory… we would meet in Jackson California on the west side of the Sierra and drive over together… On one occasion he handed me the keys to his Porsche Boxster and let me drive… over the Sierra on a two lane road… He was a gentleman… waving to flagmen… they deserved the respect… The drives were 3 hour conversations about preservation, boilers and sports cars… He was a long time sports car guy.

Most recently we were on board of the Knight Historic Knight Foundry Board… That group eventually folded up our tent and closed out the 501c3 after failing to make progress… recently the foundry came into City ownership, assuring its preservation…

He will be missed, but also remembered.

Randy

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Randy Hees
Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City, Nevada
http://museums.nevadaculture.org/nsrmbc
http://www.nevadasouthern.com/
https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfNevadaSouthernRailway


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 Post subject: Re: William L. Withuhn, 1941-2017
PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:22 am 

Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2004 8:42 am
Posts: 375
Location: Haslett, Michigan USA
Bill was a generous source of ideas and advice for the Steam Railroading Institute. And he usually bought when we'd carouse in DC after meetings of the Transportation Research Board History Committee, no matter what I'd say about federal bureaucrats. I'm not surprised to learn the range of projects that he was involved with. I can't wait to see the publication of his thesis. A unified history of the idea of the modern steam locomotive will fill a real need for persons trying to interpret this history for the public.

Aarne H. Frobom
Owosso, Michigan


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