Engine 102 & Crew at the Brattleboro Enginehouse. 1909.
Engine 102 & Crew at the Brattleboro Enginehouse. 1909.
Friday November 30, 2012

CHESTERFIELD, N.H. -- Windham County has a rich historical connection to the railroad industry.

At least four train lines weave through the area, which also sports a couple of street railroads, and the tracks still used today provide a reminder of a time when the American economy was steam-powered by locomotives.

And anyone interested in taking a peek at yesteryear need only to flip through the 2013 Windham County Railroad Calendar.

Dave Allen has for the past five years produced a Franklin County (Mass.) railroad calendar and one day the Chesterfield resident decided to put one together for his home county. He recruited the assistance of friends who identify as railroad enthusiasts and started collecting photographs and information of old train stations, railroad cars and their employees.

Allen, an amateur historian, said the Windham County calendar boasts nine photos courtesy of the Brattleboro Historical Society. He said the Franklin County calendars have been a success and the ones for Windham County have been well-received.

Each calendar costs $12 and can be purchased at country stores and bookshops throughout the county.

"They're quite popular so far," Allen said.

He added that he prints them on an office copier for a well-done glossy format.

"It's a fun way to print nifty pictures," he said.

Alden Dreyer, a resident of Shelburne, Mass., is one of Allen's train nut friends and helped him put information with each of the photographs.

Dreyer said he started working for the Boston and Maine Railroad in 1964 and retired 20 years later after he underwent cancer surgery. After his retirement he needed a hobby and found one selling old employee magazines, which were produced for the company's workers from 1924 to 1983. He continues to sell them on eBay. He used his railroad knowledge to assist Allen with the Franklin County calendar and helped with the Windham County one because he is familiar with Brattleboro.

He said he greatly enjoyed viewing the black-and-white photographs and looking at the faces of life on the railroad as far back as a century ago.

"They're fascinating," he said. "It's a lot of fun."

Dreyer made sure, however, to quote American industrialist Henry Ford in saying, "History is bunk." He encourages anyone who purchases a calendar to call him or Allen with any corrections that may be needed.

He said it is extremely difficult to provide accurate information on old photographs that have no location or date written on the back.

Allen, who owns a company in Greenfield, Mass., called Roberge Associates Land Surveying and also reproduces old maps as a side job, said it is funny how he has sold some of the calendars.

He mentioned that he was driving to West Dummerston, Vt., last Friday and pulled over near the post office to ask a couple of people where he could find a store where he could pitch the calendars. They asked him what he was doing and when he told them, they wanted to purchase one.

Allen also told of another instance in which he sold four calendars. He was at his dentist's office less than a week ago and started talking about his project. Before he left, he had sold calendars to three staff members and one customer.

Allen can be reached at 413-772-2801 during the daytime.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.