Historical Society Visits Boudreau’s Railroad

by | Oct 17, 2013

By John Anderson

The Auburn Historical Society held its October meeting on Tuesday evening at the Senior Center. President Sari Bitticks announced that an “Images of America” book about Auburn should be available in January of 2014. These books are always well done and offer a look back at the subject community. There is a lot about Auburn that readers will discover or rediscover by reading the book that will be sold at the Society’s Museum and on Amazon.com.

The evening program was “50 Years on the Railroad”, an interview video of late John Boudreau with remarks by Ken Ethier. For many years, Ken and John met in Dunkin’ Donuts to chat about the railroad amongst other topics. At the age of 94, Boudreau agreed to the interview series which was locally produced by Matt George. The content of the video was almost mesmerizing. John Boudreau began his railroad career in 1933 as a maintenance worker and moved to operations as a brakeman in 1938.

In the 1930’s every train had multiple brakemen who ran on top of and turned the brake wheels of each car to slow or stop the train. Without the hand brakes, the inertia of the train would keep it moving. Locomotives don’t provide enough stopping power on their own, and this is still true today. Much safer air brakes have replaced manual labor which was incredibly dangerous. Needless to say, this job preceded OSHA. Chief Boudreau, as I will always remember him from my days with the Auburn Fire Dept., shares many of his other experiences and this video is a must see for Auburn citizens.

The next Society meeting is on Tuesday, November 19, and the subject will be Larry Leonard’s “The Real Cause of the Revolutionary War.” If you haven’t been to the Auburn Historical Museum on South St. recently, stop in again. They are constantly adding artifacts and changing displays. The museum is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 9AM to Noon.

The museum will be closed this Saturday because of the Waffle Festival being held at The Woods at Eddy Pond, 667 Washington St. in town. The Festival will equally benefit the Auburn Historical Museum and the Friends of the Auburn Senior Center Association and is open from 9:30-11:00AM. Tickets are available at the door, $7.00 for adults and $4.50 for children under 12.