Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Official Last Day. :-(

Today was my official last day at the depot as an intern.  Fortunately, we're not leaving Laramie after I graduate in May (pending any unforeseeable circumstances) so I'll be around to volunteer at the depot for a while. 

Today I finished up two more boxes, so we're up to box number 91.  I updated the catalog with those two, emailed Larry, and will run up to the depot and update the catalog on that computer as well.  I also helped Larry clean off one of the waiting benches and get some pictures of it to try to sell a couple of them.  Once two of those are cleared away, we can really get moving on setting up the museum.  Jeff also delivered our second order of shirts, so we can get those to the few of our visitors that ordered them during the Open House.  I also picked up another one for Christmas.  :-D 

There was a small family that stopped by today.  They picked a good time, Larry and I were in the middle of getting one of the smaller train layouts out of the caboose and into his truck to take to Centennial.  So the family got to go inside the caboose and heard a little mini history.  It was nice. 

Unfortunately however, we also discovered more plumbing problems in the bathrooms today.  No water is coming out of the faucets in the men's room and there's water slowly running down the wall in the women's.  We think it's because of the arctic temperatures we got earlier this week.  Eagle Plumbing is coming tomorrow to see what they can do.  Hopefully it's not TOO bad, as we've got people who rented the depot for parties this weekend. 

So even though I'm officially done, work at a museum is never done.  ;-)

Sunday, December 4, 2011


I updated the catalog, took our display back to the depot after a month at the library, and sent out some emails desperately trying to find an intern for the spring semester.  I'll try again at the start of the semester to see if anyone becomes available.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Woke up this morning with a low-grade fever.  So I stayed home today and spoke with Larry via email. Since I still owe him a Wednesday, I'll go in next week for my last day. 
This afternoon if I'm feeling better, I need to run to the library and take down the depot display.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The beginning of the end.....

This is the last official Monday, and despite a raging sinus infection, we (because Lindsey came by too) got a lot done.  A lot moved.  We cleaned out most of the On-Hand room and moved allllllllllll the boxes that we finished into that room.  It's hard to believe that we're already up to 90 boxes.  Crazy.

Bad news, however.  Our intern who was all set up for the spring fell through.  I sent some emails this weekend to some students, hopefully I'll get a bite.  Larry wants the museum open by July 1st.  I'm nervous that won't happen without an intern in the spring.  ANd I don't know if I'm going to be able to spend a lot of time there in the spring, with getting ready to graduate and everything.  But I will be able to stop by for a bit. 

Anyway, we are going to place another order for more shirts and we are going to schedule a "hanging" day over Christmas break to hang some of the larger pieces like the old chalkboard time schedule sign and the train windows.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

The morning after...

The Open House!  It was a success!  We got over $100 in donations and we got over $500 from our "gift table"!  Very exciting.  Larry said it looks like we got over 800 people over the two days.  That's really good!

This morning I recounted our stock and came up with the profit numbers.  Lindsey stopped by as well, and she's going to help me tackle the storage room next week, see if we can't make the place a little more organized for when Scott comes in in the spring.  If we are able to do that on Monday, then hopefully on Wednesday I can at least finish the boxes in the corridor so that area is all clear.  Then Thursday I'll spend updating the catalog so it's ready to go for Scott.  That's the plan, anyway!  Then that will be it for me.  Officially.  :-(

But I'll be sticking around to help.  Maybe I can continue to push Larry into creating a state-wide association.  I really think we need one.  It would help all the depots and railroad towns around the state.  I also had an idea in which I would need to contact Tray Sherwood at Mainstreet about "renting" a unoccupied downtown building's window to put a train layout for Christmas.  We could also advertise Santa Claus.  I think he should be coming to the depot again this year.  I'm going to check, anyway.  Also, Tray said she'd sell our t-shirts down there, too.  So if someone wasn't able to get on at the Open House, they will be available still for Christmas!  We're putting in another order for Christmas too. :-D

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Open House!

So this weekend is the depot's annual Open House.  Lego land is all set up (and wonderful!) and we've got train layouts in the other half.  Laramoo the cow is out as well.  
It was quite a good turn out today.  Lindsey and I were there from 1-5 and once people were done with lunch it got pretty crowded.  A few people we talked to said that they'd lived here for a while and had never visited.  The donation box was getting full too, and we sold 14 t-shirts (have an order for 3 more), 8 mugs, and a few hats, among other things.  I'll do a full recount of our gift inventory on Monday to determine what was popular and if we need to order more shirts.  We sold out of the XXL, so we definitely will need some more of those.  Also, Tray Sherwood from Mainstreet said she'd sell some of our shirts for us as well.  So that's good, until we get our own gift shop up and running (there are still indecisions on that, so unfortunately it won't be this year) and when we have the museum and regular hours as well.
Apparently, the date for the dedication of the train at Heritage Railroad Park is going to be July 1st.  Larry said he would love the back half of the museum open by then.  It can be done.  It won't be easy, but it can be done.  We have first GOT to get rid of a couple of those benches!  They're taking up so much space that we can't do anything back there right now.  We have 2 to get rid of.  They're 16 feet long, 4 feet tall, and 5 feet deep. 

I also can't believe that my time is just about officially over.  I have Monday, then the next week until Dec. 2. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gift Shop Thursday

Just a quick morning.  I set up the gift shop table for the open house this weekend.  I also took inventory of all that we have to sell so we can look back afterward and see what was popular, what wasn't, etc.  Bonnie will be setting the prices, but I'm going to make a price list to put on the table.  I figured that'd be the easiest way to price the items.  I also need to see if I can put together a quick sign before Saturday morning as well.  It'll say, "Don't Forget Your Train-Themed Gifts!!  All proceeds support Your Historic Laramie Railroad Depot."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yay! Power tools!

Today was another project-filled day.  After sorting through the t-shirts and giving each board member their total price, I helped Larry start getting things together for the Open House.  We gave our Union Pacific cow a bath; then it took 5 hours to drive down to storage and load up all the parts to the train layouts, drive back (and praying that nothing fell out of the back of the pick-up trucks on the way back), unload and assemble 7 tables. 
I now know the best way to design a table that needs to be regularly de-assembled and re-assembled.  I also got to use electric drills and screwdrivers, which made me happy.  :-)

Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to decide where the gift shop table will go, so hopefully more of the layouts both train and lego, will be up by tomorrow morning so I can go ahead and set that up tomorrow. 

The train layouts are quite fun.  Maybe sometime I will make one and donate to the depot.  :-D

Monday, November 14, 2011

For the rest of the term...

I worked on a few more boxes this Monday, however mostly I looked at what I'll attempt to do for these last few weeks.  I can't believe officially, I have only 6 more days at the Depot!  The rest of this week will be dedicated to getting ready for the Open House this weekend, next Monday before Thanksgiving, Lindsey will be back and we'll discuss how we'll hang these 3 gorgeous train windows in the museum.  Hopefully after that we actually CAN hang the windows.  The rest of the days I will attempt to get as many of the boxes done as possible before I leave. 

I will still be stopping by occasionally in the spring and summer though. 

I also suggested to Larry about starting a state-wide association.  Right now the only group remotely close is TRACS, which is a Union Pacific association.  But I really believe that if we were to start a Wyoming Historic Railroad Association in which all the depots from Cheyenne from Evanston, as well as other railroad towns in the state can work together and help each other.  We have papers from Evanston, and I'm sure they have papers related to Laramie.  It we were all together, it would be easier to share research and get funding for the association as well.  Maybe that's something we can work on after the craziness of the Open House and the holidays has passed.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bathroom Thursday

Still helped work on the Men's Bathroom today.  I was actually very excited because I got to operate the hydrolic lift to mask off the windows and the emergency lights.  We were getting ready to spray texture the walls with plaster when two things happened.  One, we lost pressure in our air compressor and two, I had to go to class.  :-(  Thursdays are short days, and the time goes by quicker when you're doing work on bathroom walls!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

5 hours in the Men's Room (and a hour for lunch)

You know, most people don't understand how much work and how much one needs to be a "jack of all trades" at a small museum.  Especially if the museum doesn't have a lot of funding. 

Today I helped Larry and Jerry work on the men's room.  The walls still looked horrible and needed attending after the water pipe busted several months ago.  In order to save money, we're doing the work ourselves.  Some WyoTech volunteers scrapped most of the loose stuff off over the weekend, so Larry worked on patching up the holes, I was a great cleaner-upper today.  ;-)  And I was an excellent scrapper holder.  But I also learned about how to fix cracking, damaged plaster walls.  I also masked off all the areas that are not going to get the texture when Larry sprays either tonight or tomorrow morning (I'll be dressed for dirty work tomorrow as well).  We used at least a couple hundred square feet of plastic in that bathroom today covering the smooth lower portion of the walls, the doors, the stalls, the windows.... 

It may not seem like a lot, but it made me think that I'm sure the Met does not have their president doing repair and maintenance work.  It's important for someone going into the museum studies field to understand the different jobs that make the museum work.  From the janitor to the director.  And it's also important for one to understand that depending on what museum one works at, it is good to be very well rounded and hands on, because the water line might break and the plaster walls of the historic building might need fixing.  :-)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dirty Monday

I feel awful for missing Larry's party on Friday.  We were at the depot, and there was a family emergency.  I hope he understands.

It was a busy day, though.  We had men in working on the doors in the baggage room fixing the doors so they're not so drafty and slide smoother.  Larry also had a meeting with some men from the city who are working on the fence that goes around the snow train.  It's going to be a nice fence.  It'll have sections of smooth steel with a RR crossing sign on top.  Larry wants to make the smooth section large enough for text.  I suggested they gradually slope the top of the section down on either side of the RR crossing to make it more aesthetically pleasing.  We'll see how it ends up!

I also finished up a few more boxes.  We're definitely going to need to buy some more boxes before we can continue.  We've got 30 more to go through, I'm entered in box #87 today. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The morning after...the board meeting.

They had another board meeting yesterday evening.  We've got our t-shirts finalized, so I was able to send the final order to Jeff this morning.  That's exciting.  The board, especially Bonnie, is excited about my "Haunted Depot" idea for next fall.  I figure I'll start some research into that this coming summer, since I already committed myself to sticking around and organizing it.  ;-D
I also worked on some more boxes as well.  It's a short day today, so there wasn't too much going on.  We need to get more boxes, we ran out this morning again.  Only 34 left to go....

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Library Day

I set up our display at the public library.  It didn't take long. so I worked on putting together some updates for the board meeting tonight, as I won't be able to make this one.  :-(  I actually have to go into work at Bath and Body Works instead. 

This is what I came up with:

Museum Update:
Have over 80 boxes completed, 36 more to go. 
Officially have an intern to take over in the spring: Scott Cheney, who will be working 18 hours a week.
We have some cases moved into their spaces.
There is a possibility that a marketing class at UW lead by Dr. David Hunt will be wanting to work with the depot in the coming semesters.
Need to make the decision whether to have the logo on the side or in the center:

And an example of the two color logo on a natural colored shirt:

I’ll get the total cost and request a check to give him by this weekend and he’ll have those done for us by the Open House.
Trick or Treating downtown went well, we underestimated the number of kids!  I think it would be a great event to take advantage of every year.  Especially if we were able to expand it into a “Haunted Depot” which could bring in some money.   Even though I’ll be leaving as an official intern the first part of December, I will be around and stopping back by as a volunteer, and if it is decided to do a haunted depot, I’ll be glad to take that project on next year.
Albany County Library Case:
I set up the library case today.  Whomever was in charge of setting up the Lego Land portion on the top shelf has not done their display yet.  I told the library that if they don’t come to set up by next week to let me know and I’ll do more.  J

I also brought some small stickers that were left over that Jay printed.  I gave some out to some kids at the library while I was setting up and left the rest in the library’s sticker basket that children get to choose from when they check out a book.  We’re getting our logo out there!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday: A Time to Look Ahead

We officially have an intern for the spring semester!  Scott will be joining the depot January for 6 credits, which equals 16-18 hours a week.  He'll be able to get so much done.  :-)

Scott did stop by this morning and I took about an hour or so to show him around and tell him what we've been up to, and what we hope to get done.  Hopefully I got him excited to begin, instead of scaring him away.  ;-) 

After he left, Larry and I got to work on some more boxes.  I'm currently working on box #82.  I counted today we have 36 boxes left to go through.  At least 6 of them are full of loose pages, so it'll be a bit longer until that process is done.  And that's just the boxes.  There's still cabinets to go through and the entire telegraph room.  That room is a semester long project in itself. 

Wednesday I'll be setting up the small display in the public library case.   That'll be nice.  Then Friday is Larry's party.  Jerry is honoring Larry and all he's done for the depot.  The entire community is invited. 

Also, I got the proof for the t-shirts!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Larry looked wonderful in his engineer's costume today to hand out candy downtown this morning.  And the stickers looked great too! 

Hopefully many of you saw him and more people realize that we are trying to get more involved in the community and will support us.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thursday's Reflection

Entered boxes up to #79 today.  We still have a lot to go, mostly because teh boxes that are currently holding these "binders" full of telegrams, forms, other loose papers are larger than the boxes we're using to store them.  So the box we're taking these binders out of (a box with no lid and the items inside are bursting out of the top) hold about 5-7 binders.  The boxes we're putting these binders in hold 3.  So we'll probably have to get more boxes soon.

We're looking forward to the Downtown Trick or Treating on Saturday.  I asked Larry and Lindsey if they could hand out candy at the Depot.  Unfortunately there is a wedding reception that rented out the depot that day so if you go trick or treating downtown, don't miss the corner (I think they're going to be at Kerney and 2nd) and get your candy courtesy of the Laramie Depot!  I am also printing out more flyers and Jay at Modern Printing will have stickers with the Depot logo on them to hand out with the candy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Snow and RR Employees

Today was an interesting day.  Thought the furnace was broken, it just took a while to kick on, and it was cold!  Cataloged 8 boxes (which beats my earlier record of a box an hour).  Mostly it was a lot of binders and boxes of papers.  I did find some interesting things though.  For example:

A Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) form listed the number of injuries (both fatal and not fatal) that occurred at various stations and shops in May 1926 and 1927.  Wyoming had one fatality to a tresspasser in 1926.  The shop in Cheyenne had none what so ever.  That's impressive.  Especially if they're talking about the steam shop, I"ve been there.  That place could easily be dangerous.  The craziest thing, however, was the Unit Shop, which had a passenger suicide. 

I also found some GREAT employee files.  One of them included an admittance letter from an employee that lied about his age to get a job at the railroad.  He said he was born in 1888, but he was actually born in 1890.  Of course he didn't fess up until 1927!

Also learned what horses were for at the Tie Plant.  Charles Osterman's horses were used to pull tie cars.  There was a letter that explained he was removing his horses from service because they weren't being used enough, ALTHOUGH, I think he pulled them because he saw them being pulled too hard, thus they were not being treated well.

Besides boxes, I also helped shovel the snow in the front of the depot and swept up turds.  Yes, turds.  One box of loose papers (freight bills) was full of turds.  Don't know what animal left them, they were definitely bigger than a rat.  So. Gross. 

I also spoke with Larry about my ideas for the display at the Public Library here in Laramie.  Next Wednesday I'll be setting that up.  So check for photos then!

Monday, October 24, 2011


Gretchen didn't go to kindergarten today.  Classes were canceled for a staff day, so instead I working on getting in contact with people and organizing the depot's participation in the Downtown Trick or Treat.  I also got an image of the case in the library where we will have a small display during November:

I am thinking that because it is a library and we have some great books, to do a combination of some of the historical books we've come across as well as a model train (for the kids) and maybe an old railroad sign with information of where the depot is, what we're doing, advertisement for the open house, how to help, and when to stop by.    Unfortunately we only get the bottom shelf because those in charge of the lego land at the open house claimed dibs on the top shelf.  

Luckily I have a great friend that works at the library, and I hope to plan a time to set up in about a week! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quick Day Thursday

Updated the catalog today.  We're working on box #72!  Hard to believe I started on box #25 seven weeks ago.  I also talked to Larry some today and learned something about how to read some of the railroad documents.  For instance, station 566 is Laramie.  Station 634 is Rawlins.  The letters PFE stand for refrigerator cars.  And the way to tell the difference between a refrigerator car and a regular box car is by the doors.  On a regular box car the doors slide to the side.  On a refrigerator car the doors open outward.  So if you see large hinges on what looks to be a box car, it's probably a refrigerator car.  Another interesting note, if you see a train going east, it's probably full of stuff, if it's going  west, it's probably empty. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Got past box #70 today.  Things are getting very dusty in there now, especially since we don't leave the door open anymore (too cold and we have the furnace running now).  Found 6 1/2 more boxes of loose papers.  I'm not looking forward to tackling those.  It's just a jumbled mess of papers shoved in boxes.  So I'm proposing we finish the boxes that are in the freight office now, and then focus on the boxes that have all the binders.  That's the bulk of what's left of those piles.  So if we get the binder boxes finished, we can at least start moving the finished boxes into the On-Hands room and clear out the corridor in time for the Open House. 

I also began sending more emails out about the T-shirts, stickers, and Trick-or-Treating.  I convinced the depot to start handing out candy at the downtown Scaramie on the 29th.  Unfortunately there's a wedding reception that day, so we can't decorate.  But next year, it looks like everyone would be on board for a Haunted Depot for the kids.  That'll be a really fun event, especially if it becomes an annual thing!

Board Meeting

Soo, I was only joking at first about the board meeting going on longer than 3 hours, but I actually didn't get home until 10:30p.  It was a long one!  But I think a lot of decisions were made, which is good.  I did get my T-shirts approved, and Modern Printing is printing stickers too.  We also are getting mugs made as well, so we're going to have a lot of great stuff to sell/hand out at the Open House! 

I gave everyone my report, but I didn't go through it all, just the main points.  Some were supportive of the research area, and others still had hesitations, so maybe that's something we decide later, when we have the documents organized and filed, and ready to be used by researchers.  Gift shop was so-so as well.  I think depending on how the Open House goes and how well we sell our t-shirts, mugs, and things will help either push for the gift shop or against it. 

I did also meet the rest of the board and I was able to find who accepted the donation of metal buckles that has the Arabic writing.  They're from IRAN!  Yay!  Now I just need an Iranian dictionary and I can translate them.  If I have time that is.... 

The board gave me some other tasks, which I'm happy to do.  I am, of course, the middle man between the board and Jeff making the t-shirts.  I am also going to help hand out posters about the Open House/Lego Land in Novemeber, try to get some more people to come.  Also come up with some ideas for advertising that event (cheaply!).  Finally I WILL be designing a temporary exhibit.  It will be at the Public Library here in Laramie during the month of November.  We're sharing a case with the lego designers.  So I'm going to stop by on Monday (Gretchen doesn't have kindergarten, so I'm going to try to complete some tasks that don't require me to be at the depot, like the library) and take a look at the case, see what kind of space we're dealing with. 

To sum up, a lot was discussed, and I would recommend every intern attend at least one board meeting of their museum. It is eye opening.  We learn and we basically know that running a museum is expensive and time-consuming.  But some of the numbers they were discussing last night for restoration of the brick platforms, sliding baggage room doors, even fixing the bathrooms where it flooded last year, just about made my eyes pop out of my head!  It's also great to see how the board works and the people involved.  I don't know if I'd want to go to another one, but I'm glad I went to this one!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Internship Report

I just spent 3 hours writing a 7 page report on what I've done so far, what I think could be done for the future, and what we need to do for the open house next month.  It took about a hour to print out (I needed 13 copies) and I'm sure the board will not want to go through it in detail if they want the meeting to last under 4 hours!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Larry's Back! Time to Reflect.

Larry's back from his 'round the world trip.  Yay!  So we didn't get too much done this morning.  We had to hear all about his time in England, Paris, Korea....  We also had to update him on all we've done while he was away.  It actually worked out well, timing-wise.  It's around midterms, and I have a board meeting to go to tomorrow, so it's a great time for reflection. 

When I first began, it was basically to take over what Lindsey had done over the summer, and for the first few weeks all I did was work on cataloging boxes.  However, I quickly learned that cataloging/archiving is not really my thing.  I can do it, no problem, but there are other things I'd rather do.  So I started some other projects.

To get the space ready to actually begin moving glass cabinets (which we DID move today!) there were things that needed to be done.  Such as loading up the trailer for a trip to the dump, moving all the magazines into the caboose for a later project, getting rid of the not-so-great baggage carts...

Also, with the amount of stuff that needed to be moved, I re-organized all the building's remaining spaces to determine the best place to put all these extra cabinets, documents, file cabinets, wall pieces, etc. 

I also gave one brief tour to a couple from out of town, which gave me the idea to capture some history and write down information about everything currently on display for future interns to be able to answer questions and really be able to give a thorough tour of everything currently in the museum.    I haven't been able to get to this project yet.  Hopefully I will get a good bit of it done during the last few weeks of the term, after the chaos of the Open House in November is over. 

Most of my ideas, however, relate to marketing.  I designed a flyer to be handed out downtown and to drop off at the departments on Campus that are related to museum studies (I hope to get some of that done today/this week).  I also came up with a couple event ideas to help let the community know that we're still here and we're growing, such as an art show (this will be a spring time event if the board approves) and, most recently, if I can get Larry in his engineers uniform and Lindsey to hand out candy during the downtown Trick-Or-Treating.  I can make a sign that says "Don't Forget Your Candy at the Depot!"  To introduce families to the depot if they haven't had the chance to visit before.

And of course thinking about marketing has led to thinking about a giftshop, t-shirts, stickers, and shopping bags, all which are related to marketing and advertising.  I still think a giftshop would be a great way to bring in some extra money as well as reach out to that market that maybe isn't fond of museums, but they love to shop! 

Taking Digital Media this semester worked out well for me, as I've been applying what I've learned in that class to t-shirt and sticker designs for the depot.  I am hoping to find time today or tomorrow to run to Kinkos and discuss pricing for printing stickers.  While working on the stickers, I came up with a great interactive exhibit that the children would love using the scale that we have in the back room. 

I talked a lot about these things with Larry this morning, next will be talking about these things to the board! 

I think I've learned a lot so far, maybe not a lot of specific museum tasks, but how to deal with people.  People that are your superiors and your peers.  I think I've always been good with people, no matter their position in life, but when you're trying to get things done and you must work with people that you don't see too often or are your supervisor, but they don't know much about actual museum studies, it's a different approach that is needed, and I hope I am showing myself as a professional, mature person with ideas and ways to make those ideas a reality, and who is able to both listen and respond to others' suggestions or concerns. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekend Work

I spent an additional 3 hours this weekend working on things for the depot.  T-Shirt designs mostly.  I spend about 2 hours in the mac lab putting together some simple designs for children's tees.  Children of both genders and all ages love trains, and I really think if the depot does something to focus on the kids and keep the kids coming back, then that will create a good returning audience for the depot.

Anyway, so I worked on those designs and I met with Jeff of 105 Degrees West about prices and options for printing t-shirts.  This gives me good information to share at the meeting on Tuesday.  I also need to strongly encourage the board to decide on a design or so preferably that night so Jeff can get the shirts done by the Open House in November so we can sell them then. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Yesterday we discovered that we have a grand total of 9 places to hang framed photographs/posters/maps/etc.  Nine.  That is not a lot, especially considering that we probably have close to 50 wall pieces that can be hung up. 

So today I started going through them.  Today's goal was to break them down by priority.  If we have only 9 spaces available, we better make sure we are making good choices in the decision of which to hang. 
  • Highest Priority: those that are specifically related to Laramie depot or railroad.
  • Second Priority: those that are related to the railroad in the Northwest region, also those ones that might be Laramie, but aren't labeled.
  • Third Priority: those that are distantly related to the railroad, or those not really related to the railroad but are "pretty."
  • Fourth/Last Priority: those in poor condition.
I didn't want to go farther than this today, because I'm sure the board will disagree with many of my choices.  They want to keep and show everything and they need to realize that that is not going to happen.  I mean, what is the point of showing lovely landscape photographs in a railroad depot museum??  Perhaps they are images of what the landscape looked like if one were to look out of the train going by, but when we have maps of the old Laramie railroad yard, or images of boilermakers here in Laramie.  Landscapes aren't that important compared to other options.  We'll see how it goes on Tuesday.  I'm really dreading this!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What to do next?

Well, the furnace is installed and working, but now we have to seal the drafty doors.  It's still cold in there.  My fingertips were freezing, even with the little cotton gloves.  :-)

However, further investigation of the furnace showed that they will have to come back and fix somethings.  It leaks pretty badly, which means we can't store anything in that room until they stop the leak.  Another set back!

Right it seems as if my projects have come to a halt until the board can decide whether to do them or not.  So I'm back to cataloging boxes.  We're just past 60 and we've got to have about 30-40 more to go.  I've also seem to lost my volunteer.  She has a half-finished box she started weeks ago with a complex organization system of manilla folders (all the documents she was working on were loose, so organization was needed).  It's very frustrating to see that box just sitting there unfinished.  I'm not sure of her process, so I would prefer if she could at least finish this box before disappearing again!  I'll send her another email.

I also took some pictures of the train today to see what I can do about creating a simple image for a t-shirt.  I have a scheduled meeting with Jeff on Saturday to discuss ideas and pricing.

I realize it may seem strange to spend so much time on t-shirt and sticker designs, but when there's nothing I can do really, except organize boxes, I have to find something that will break up the monotony and get me out of the dust for a while! 

Jerry and I went over some things we wanted to discuss at the board meeting next week.  I'm really nervous about that!  We have a decent long list of topics:
  • T-shirt designs and prices
  • Sticker designs and prices
  • What we have done so far (Lindsey and I)
  • Future goals, what can I see this place like in the future (I think this may bring up a lot of discussion or issues that people might have, such as my goal of building an established internship program with an official intern supervisor at the depot that can make decisions when it's too long to wait for the board meeting)
  • Immediate goals, what do we want done by the open house next month?
  • What do we want to do with all the photographs/images/wall pieces?  (Today we came to the conclusion we have room for a whopping total of 9 wall pieces can go in the new museum space.  We have approximately 50 stored at the depot.)
Jerry also wants to address some maintenance issues, like drainage, the walkway, and the leaky caboose.
It's going to be a looooooooooooong meeting.

October has been a rough month so far, and I hope this board meeting coming up turns it around, at least as far as my internship goes!  Larry will be back in a few days as well.  We'll see what he has to say about what we've done in his absence.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Graphic Designer for the Museum? Sure!

I've been in the mac lab for a few hours today converting photographs I took into something that can be easily printed for a t-shirt or stickers.  Knowing that screen printing is cheaper the least amount of colors used, I have gone back to work on and simplify the logo and some of the great graphics we have throughout the depot.  It takes a looooong time to do this!  Especially the logo.  As you can see I didn't get very far.  The sketchy like detail is going to take a while to make ready for screenprinting.

I also worked on a couple sticker possibilities.  One I finished, and I'm very happy.  This one will be perfect for sticking on a brown paper bag or brown paper wrapped package.  Ooo!  I just had an idea, I could create a display of packages for the freight office: brown packages covered in the type of stickers that they would have used, like this one!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


My laptop lives!  So I am able to get all my photos and post them here. 

These are all the boxes we have done so far, the ones still left to do in the brown boxes on the right and the finished boxes on the left.  There's another stack of boxes we have to go through in another corner of the space.

 Our new (old, free) computer from the city.

Here's just a glimpse of the mess before, magazines stacked up (which were ALL moved to the caboose) and part of the giant dump pile.

And afterward!  Space!  Once we figure out who can take the baggage carts that we don't want, we can start moving the cases and cabinets around to their permanent places.

Above are some great images I came across today.  This last one is from 1986.  The previous ones are some drawings of the trains I thought would look nice on t-shirts or stickers.

Wednesday, October 5

We got a furnace, yay!  They're actually still working on it this morning.  I'm not sure how much longer they need to finish up, but my goodness they made a mess cutting into the wall.  At least I won't have to worry about freezing while working at the depot this winter. 

Of course this does not really allow me to be able to move stuff around today with them in the way with their ladders, but this is good, as I'm now sick (thank you daughter who loves to share...germs).  So I just worked on some boxes and tubes today.  Found a great old newspaper from 1939.  Still in pretty decent condition as well.  Yellowing and some brittle edges as to be expected, but not as bad as it could be if it were left in the light and heat. 

I am going to have to find some time to move some hours around, however.  I need to spend a few hours in the mac lab on campus designing t-shirts and stickers.  I hope to meet with Jeff next weekend and have some designs ready then so he can give me more accurate prices.  And I called Fed Ex Office and it takes a week for them to print stickers/decals so I want to get those designs ready to go to take down there and get some prices.  I hope to be able to bring all these numbers to the meeting on the 18th so they can decide what they want for November's open house.  I still need to complete a report for that meeting too.....  

Monday, October 3

I actually was not able to go into the depot today, as I had to take Gretchen to the doctor. 
But I was able to have Dr. Ali look at the Arabic I found the other day. 
This is more than likely a name or position.

The number 3.

Smoking is forbidden.

Smoking is allowed.

Still no idea!

According to him, these came from an eastern country that uses Arabic characters/alphabet, but this is not Modern Standard Arabic.  I'm thinking this are Urdu.  The language in north India that was brought in by the Mughals.  That or a version of Pakistani or Persian (what Dr.Ali suggested).  Another reason for me to lean toward India is that country relies heavily on the railroad even still today. And we know that these are related to the railroad to some degree because they were donated to the depot.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Hiccup in the Plans

Gretchen has the flu.  I don't how I'm going to be able to make it down to the Farmer's Market.  Time to make a plan B, just in case!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Awkward Thursday.

I did manage to get through another couple boxes and a tube this morning.  But I had my daughter with me.  She was too sick to go to kindergarten, so I had her bring a toy and sit in a chair while I worked on stuff.  Which was fine the first 45minutes or so.  Then an event began next door so I couldn't go over there and do anything as far as moving things goes.

But I will make up more than enough time copying flyers and handing them out tomorrow.  We'll see how that all goes!  Black and white for the Farmer's Market and I'll try to get a couple copies of colored ones for the various departments on campus.\

I also spoke to Jeff about the t-shirts this morning.  We're going to set up a time to meet over the next couple weeks to go over possible designs/color combinations/prices for me to bring to the next board meeting Oct. 18.  I'm kind of nervous about that actually!  I'll have to put together a program for me to follow I think.  :-)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

So productive it hurts.

I need to find my camera.  We got a LOT done today, a LOT of moving and heavy lifting.

I was cleaning and arranging the research area and going through railroad books (why I need the camera!), and I found some incredible intaglios today.  No idea where they came from (if they were donated, or or done by someone at the depot), but I have a name: S. Neilsen and a year: 1968.  Might have to ask Mark or Anne Marie, if she has any in the Toppan Library.

I also found some other things today that completely threw me for a loop!  What are metal buckles/signs written in ARABIC doing inside one of the original desks at the 1920s train depot in Laramie, Wyoming?  These I'm going to translate.  Of course two of them have the number 3 in Arabic, so that's an easy translation.  But there's a larger red one with white writing, and two small white ones with black writing.  I'll see what I can do, and if I can't figure them out I'll take them to Dr. Ali. 

Besides the exciting things I found, we created space today!  It was exhausting.  I got my workout in today that's for sure.  We move at least a couple hundred pounds of old railroad magazines from the north side of the museum to the caboose.  And it took some pure upper body to lift those boxes into the caboose, that's for sure.  But the next intern that comes through can focus on cataloging, organizing, and setting up the magazines as a functional space inside the caboose.  Hurt my hand moving all those boxes, accidentally squashed my finger between the bottom of the box and the metal trailer.  Hopefully the strange bump on my finger will go away soon. 

And last but not least, we loaded up all the trash for a dump run!  This may not seem like a lot, but the dump run had been put off for so long that the dump pile took up at least a 1/4 of the entire future museum area.  It's amazing how much SPACE we have now! 

We still need to get ontop of Ace to get our furnace in.  That's going to be holding us up if they don't get it in soon, and it's going to be too cold to work in there if they don't get it in before winter!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hurry Up and Wait

Lindsey came by again today.  It' nice when she comes by because we can bounce ideas of each other; we also motivate each other (especially since she's still volunteering and working on arranging the future museum area).

The biggest issue I've discovered with this internship is waiting, and maybe that's an issue with museum in general.  You have an idea or need to get rid of some things (even organizing a dump run takes forever!) and you have to put it to the board and wait for the board to decide.  Well the board only meets once a month and they often can't decide on an issue in one meeting.  It can get frustrating because you know that you will not need thee old frames, or that these photos have nothing to do with the museum's mission, but no power to get rid of them.  So you learn how to work around it- design other projects that don't need the board's approval and keep bringing up the things that do.

I did get okays on my flyer so I'll be printing some of those off this week.  I don't know if I'll have time to get ALL the stickers done that I wanted to, so I might just get some basic ones made for Friday, we'll see.  The fall-time sickness (cold, sinus infections) have entered my house, hopefully that will not slow me down too much.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Graphic Designer for a Day (or a Couple Hours anyway!)

I didn't actually go into the depot this morning, instead I'm sitting at my husband's computer working on flyers to hand out at the last Farmer's Market and maybe elsewhere around town in order to get some interest growing in the depot and hopefully this will generate more donations and volunteers.  This is what I have so far:

We'll see what the board members say, and if they like it, you can catch me handing them out Friday, September 30th downtown from during the Farmer's Market.  :-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Productive Day!

Lots of things happened today, it was great!

       Heavy lifting today, and I've got the tired arms and dirty, splinter-ridden hands to prove it. :-)  I love getting down and dirty and manual labor.

       I made a complete floorplan of the building and officially designated each room a function that way when we're cleaning, we know at least which room it needs to go to.

        Also found a lot of framed/wall pieces.  They're going to need to be gone through as well.

So as far as cataloging projects, we have 3:

Wall work/framed stuff/photos/pictures

       This got me thinking as to the depot's mission statement.  Do we need a new one that really identifies what interpretation of history we want to do?  What story do we need to tell?  (Thank you, Introduction to Public History class!)  Once we decided this it will be easier to get rid of stuff.  Sadly there is no way we'll have the room for everything.

       Most of the moving we did today involved heavy wooden cabinets and file cabinets, as I got started on the freight room/gift shop and office.  Some may think it's odd that I am using my museum studies internship to work on things beside the museum itself: gift shop, office, marketing...  But my notion is this: if you don't have a good, well-organized place to work, how do you expect to keep your museum well-organized and under control?  As far as the gift shop goes...  The depot museum is not brand new, There are large areas already set up and working as a museum for visitor's to stop in...and it's open MAYBE two hours a WEEK.  We need more people.  We are a growing museum and we need 2 major things: money and hands.
       Some items for the gift shop we already have, and there's an interest in t-shirts.  If we can have the gift shop open, even if it's not (yet) completely full, by November (for Christmas shopping downtown...) that could be a little extra income for the museum.
       The gift shop is a marketing opportunity.  We need to get out there and advertise ASAP.  Maybe not necessarily for the museum, but for people and donations.  We need to let the community know we're growing and what they can do to help.

       Oh, something else happened today.  I was just beginning to clean when I heard a tug on the door.  A nice older couple wanted to see the museum, so I opened it up to them and was able to answer some questions and tell some stories that I learned from Jerry and Lindsey.  Also showed them the train in the park.  Very nice couple driving through from Idaho to Michigan.  I was very proud of myself for remembering so much.  But I do think a handbook with the history of the different items is still a good idea for current and future interns and volunteers.

       Finally, I was invited to attend the next board meeting.  Kind of exciting.  They want me to explain what I've been doing at the depot and what I think future plans should be.  So I'll be working on that "report" during some of my internship hours as well.  I think it's an important thing to do and to do well.

       I have lots of pictures I need to upload.  My laptop is sadly in a coma (not dead) and I'm having a time using Hank's computer, but I will be getting more pictures up sooner rather than later I hope!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Box Day: Monday

Went through more boxes today.  I figured Monday will be box day (after all it is still a project that needs to get done), Wednesday will be project day (cleaning, organizing freight room, writing down history), and Thursday will be computer day- which reminds me, I need to find a calendar program to put on the Depot's computer so we can all keep track of when the depot is being rented, used, open...  (board members too).

I'm also emailing Jay, going to look at the logo and see what we can do with it.

I had an interesting thought today.  It is stated that anything 50 years old or older is "historic" (at least that's what I learned in my Intro. to Archaeology class).  If that's true, then presently anything newer than 1961 is NOT historic.  Here at the depot I am handling a wide range of decades- from the turn of the century to the 1970s.  Should I be separating them from '61 and later?  Maybe a project for later when these boxes are going through again to be more organized (right now we're just seeing what we even HAVE).

I did discover something interesting today, however, going through the boxes.  A Mr. Burchfield burned his ankles on the job (with scalding hot water) and was given a $500 allowance for it.  He originally wanted $1000 but he settled for less.  He was in the hospital for 3 days in Rawlins, then in Laramie under the care of Dr. Storey who estimated a 2-3 period of disability, as both ankles had 3rd degree burns.  This injury could have led to the redesign of the switch that contributed to his burns.  In this file there was a transcript of the interview of Mr. Burchfield.  It was so easy to get hurt or killed working on the railroads.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Computer Thursday

I added the 53rd box this morning to our inventory/excel spreadsheet!  And we probably have around 40 boxes left to organize and put together.  Phew.

I also "played around" with the new computer at the depot to make sure it would accept Microsoft Excel, and went through it to make sure nothing was changed or corrupted during the uploading process.  So now we have a central "hub" where the inventory database is stored and for easy access to anyone who needs to pull something up while they're there at the depot.  I also have a back-up on my thumb drive.  Back-ups are ALWAYS a good idea.  Especially when you have over 50 boxes and tubes described and labeled.

I did get some more pictures, but I need to get them uploaded.  Keep your eyes peeled for those!

RIP Donald Conwell

Wednesday went by fast.  Faster than normal, which is a nice change of pace.  The boxes are getting tedious, especially as we’re reaching the point of finding nothing but binders, binders that will not fit in the boxes we currently have.  So off to a new project!

However, before I jump into my new project, I want to talk about some things I did find in the boxes, one of the good boxes I’d say.  It was a stack of employee files.   Just letters, telegrams, discharge slips, health insurance forms each divided by individual.  I happen to come across such a stack belonging to Donald Conwell.  What caught my attention was form 5075 from January 1931.  It’s a form that was used when an employee’s status changed in a department (transferred, resigned, discharged, etc).  Donald’s form stated he was born August 1907 and he was a “helper” (probably in maintenance for a while).  His reason for leaving service?  Deceased.  He was younger than 24 years old when he died.  He also had 4 lay-offs and died before he turned 24.  I was interested in how a person so young could have died so I read through his papers, and here’s what I found out:

Donald was single, living with his mother on Flint St.  He did get health insurance through the railroad and his mother was his beneficiary.  

There was a lot of paperwork in his stack as compared to others, and I later found out why while reading through, determined to find out how he died.

Accidental Death.

But the most intriguing thing after that discovery was the subject of the extra letters in his stack.  Letters discussing his birthday.  According to the railroad, Donald listed his birthday at 1907 when he began working in 1927.  However, when compiling the necessary documents after he died, they discovered that his birth certificate said 1909.  Letters between various railroad superintendents went back and forth trying to decide which date was accurate.  Finally a letter from Donald’s mother, Martha, settled the matter.  1909 is the correct date.  Which got me thinking, if Donald really did tell the railroad that his birthday was 1907, could he have lied about his age to get the job?  I spoke with Jerry and he said it was pretty common back then to lie about your age in order to be able to work.  Today you can’t do that with all the paperwork you have to bring in before your hired!

But the sad part, was he was even younger when he died than previously thought!  He was 21, a few months away from his 22nd birthday.  He was 6 years younger than I am today.  It’s moments like this that make history real.

Ok, on to new project(s)!  I have set out a short plan over the next few weeks.  Next week we are going to start cleaning out the Freight Office to make a giftshop.  Hopefully we can get that cleaned up and moderately set up by their Open House in November.  

Secondly, I want to get a digital file of the Depot logo to take to Jeff Hubbell and get some preliminary numbers for printing t-shirts.  I want to have the numbers and some possible color combinations put together for the next train board meeting for them to discuss in mid-October. 
In addition to that, if I have time, I’d like to put together a B&W flyer and maybe have some stickers printed out to hand out at the last Farmer’s Market to let the community know that we are trying to expand the museum and we need volunteers.  Get some increased interest and hopefully more volunteers and donations.

Finally, if we do get the volunteers, there are several jobs for them to do.  The current museum space needs regular open hours for visitors to come through.  Right now, it is almost never open except from 2-4 on most Fridays and there are people that would like to stop by.  Either interns or volunteers could open that side of the museum to allow more visits which could equal more interest and more donations.  However, there’s a lot of history in those old photographs and artifacts.  I want to create a type of handbook (maybe eventually a published catalog) of all the artifacts/photographs currently on display.  I realize this is a long-term project.  Especially when we start the second book for the telegraph room (it most definitely deserves its own book!).  Jerry is a great resource for this.  His grandfather and father worked on the railroad here in Laramie, and he grew up here as a boy.  He has seen Laramie grow from a much smaller town to what it is today.  As a starting point, Jerry and I will go through the museum photograph by photograph, artifact by artifact, and I will write down what he has to say about each one.  Additional research will be done to verify dates and facts.  This is a very ambitious project that will take a good bit of time, and research and creating the hard-copy of this handbook will probably be done away from the depot, less I get distracted.  ;-)