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.