Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: To The Dunkirk Dinghy By The Dawn’s Early Light

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Walter Smith, from The Centennial History of Chautauqua County Vol I, p.355

Walter Smith was there, no doubt in front of the crowd of people riding along with Lafayette. Unlike the fawning civilians eager to not let go of the Nation’s Guest, Smith wore the uniform of a Colonel, confidently in command of the militia regiment that received Lafayette. He even had an elegant sword draped from his belt.1

Major General Elijah Risley, Jr., father of nine-year-old Hiram (and future grandfather of Olive) strode with his military staff alongside Smith. With little notice, Smith was tabbed as marshal of the day.2 Both were businessmen, not full-time soldiers. Today, or rather this night turning into early morning, they faithfully presented all the martial pomp and circumstance proper in honoring the last surviving general of the American Revolution.

But there may have been more on the mind of Walter Smith. He wasn’t just a Continue Reading “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour: To The Dunkirk Dinghy By The Dawn’s Early Light”

A Bridge Too Quiet

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I never understood the lure of trains. Don’t get me wrong. I love trains. I just can’t figure out why. I mean, I was born at the dawn of the Space Age, watched Star Trek when it was still on the air and followed NASA’s lunar program with diligent pride. Heck, I even majored in physics and astronomy, served on the Strasenburgh Planetarium’s 40th Anniversary Task Force and created an official astronomy outreach project ( that received the official endorsement of the United Nations during the International Year of Astronomy in 2009.

Many were the times when I thought I was finally done with trains. But, like the mob to Continue Reading “A Bridge Too Quiet”

Chasing the Iron Ghosts of Blasdell Junction

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A different year. A different time. A different era. A different culture.

Dry cinder and billowy steam painted the surroundings. The clanking and grinding of metal against metal pierced the air. The steady distant drone of heavy industry Blasdell Junction - RR Sign Amidst Nature_300provided background color for the audio pallet.

Within less than one square mile of reshaped earth lay more than twenty-two linear miles of railroad. Stacked one above another, the tracks featured motive power from five Class 1 railroads and one industrial switcher.

Squeezed within a quarter mile wide swath of land included: two junction tracks (formerly the Terminal Railroad that bypassed the busy railroad yards of the City of Continue Reading “Chasing the Iron Ghosts of Blasdell Junction”

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