Dave Allen of West Chesterfield, N.H., is a surveyor by trade, but he’s also a history buff who loves trains — and all things having to do with railroading.
“I love history, but I’m just like any kid,” he says. “If a train goes by, I have to stop and watch it. Once you get bit by the train bug, it’s hard to stop.”
His love of trains and history has manifested itself in the debut edition of the Windham County Railroads Calendar, which features vintage photographs from all the railroads that served Brattleboro — the Central Vermont, Boston & Maine, and the West River Railroad — as well as other county railroads, such as the Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington (the “Hoot Toot and Whistle”).
Allen worked with fellow history and railroad buffs to track down and identify the photos, and write the captions, including Glenn Annis of Dummerston, Alden Dreyer of Shelburne Falls, Mass., and Brian Donelson of Rowe, Mass., the author of the two-volume history of The Coming of The Train.
Most of the photos in the calendar come from the Brattleboro Historical Society’s collection, so many of the scenes are from Brattleboro. They range in vintage from a circa-1870 image of a wood-fired locomotive, to a 1956 image of the last steam train to leave town.
For the last five years, Allen has done a similar calendar featuring historic railroad photos from Greenfield, Mass. and the Franklin County area. He said he wasn’t sure how a Windham County version — which he described as “a nice picture booklet disguised as a calendar” — would be received, but “once people hear about it, they want a copy.”
Allen said he did the high-resolution scans of the photos himself, along with the printing of the calendars, which was easy to do, since he already has the scanning and printing equipment for his other hobby: selling reproductions of historic New England maps.
“I used nice glossy paper to make the pictures stand out,” he said. “I don’t think people will be throwing this one out at the end of the year.”
Allen hopes the calendar reminds area residents about the long history of railroading in Windham County.
“It’s impossible to overstate the importance of trains and the railroad to this area,” Allen said.