PLAINVILLE - The Plainville Historical Society invites the public to learn about the role of the railroad both in Plainville and in the region on Jan. 18.
The event, “Through a Train Man’s Eyes,” will feature the role of railroads in Plainville’s history. It will be held at 2 p.m., at the Plainville Historic Center, at 29 Pierce St., with doors opening at 1:30 p.m. Refreshments and coffee will be served both before and after the program.
The speaker will be Gary Gurske, an area railroad enthusiast and presenter who will be showing photographs of trains in Plainville going back to the 1950s and sharing his memories of working on the rail line.
Gurske grew up in Berlin and in New Britain where his childhood baby sitter used to bring him to see the New Britain station and freight yards. His fascination with trains thus began at an early age and has continued throughout his life. He added that his great-grandfather was an engineer.
Gurske worked out of Hartford for the Pennsylvania Central Railroad in the early 1970s, during which he spent time in Plainville as part of his job.
“I was a conductor in Plainville and I also worked as an engineer for the Providence and Worcester railroad,” said Gurske. “I worked in Plainville from 1970 to 1982.”
When Gurske worked in Plainville, he said there were two local freight trains that went out to New Haven and Simsbury and occasionally Waterbury.
Rosemary Morante, publicity co-chair for the Plainville Historical Society, said that Plainville was located on a major railroad line.
“Plainville’s railroad station was located in the back of what is today the municipal center parking lot,” she said.
Gurske said the local rail was owned by the New Haven Railroad, then Penn Central, then Conrail. PanAm, which currently owns Plainville’s active rail line, took over in 1982.
“I was the last one to pull the equipment out of the station in Waterbury before the switch-over,” said Gurske.
Gurske said he has frequently been asked to speak at railroad museums and that he will be speaking in Danbury after the historical society.
“My talks usually bring in a lot of railroad enthusiasts and hobbyists,” he said. “I use a lot of railroad lingo and I often have to stop and explain it to other people in the audience. I usually give people time to ask questions after.”
Elevator access to the event room is available.
Any cancellations due to weather will be posted no later than noon at plainvillehistoricalsociety.com and on the Facebook page of the Plainville Historical Society.
For more information, call the Plainville Historic Center at 860-747-6577.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.