NELS Track At The Box Factory

This forum is dedicated to the Live Steam Hobbyist Community.

Moderators: Harold_V, WJH, cbrew

User avatar
JBodenmann
Posts: 2975
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2003 1:37 pm
Location: Tehachapi, California

NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by JBodenmann » Fri Dec 06, 2019 11:44 am

Hello My Friends
I have been re reading Live Steam Of Years Gone By by Charles Purinton. What a great book. I like the photos of all the people dressed up in their Sunday finest. There is quite a bit about the track at the box factory and was wondering why that hi line went away. The book has photos and descriptions of building the track, and runs there. But there doesn't seem to be anything about it's demise. It looks like it was very popular and a great place. Did the property change hands? Did the rise of 7-1/2" gauge cause it? Seems like a real shame that it's gone.
Jack

steamingdon
Posts: 538
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:21 pm
Location: massachusetts,usa

Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by steamingdon » Fri Dec 06, 2019 3:38 pm

I think Lester and Joe had many irons in the fire, and the rest of the local members did not want to do the work. So I would say by the late fifties early 60`s the track and the NELS (New England Live Steamers) club were in decline. Then the NELS were formed( North East Live Steamers) confused yet. Carl Purinton was one of the founders. I think there might have been some bad blood between Friends and Purintons, Just saying. I have never been able to nail anybody down to exact time line of when the club stopped functioning. So in closing I would say they were only active for about twenty years or so. We will say 1938 - 1958. Many Live Steamers visited there from all over the states and Canada.
I would have to say there only a handful of fellas left that could shed any light on this subject." Live Steam of Years Gone by" is a great book and a good history of the L.S. hobby in the Northeast, well worth the $$.
steamer

User avatar
Bill Shields
Posts: 5677
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2007 4:57 am
Location: Somewhere in the World
Contact:

Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by Bill Shields » Sat Dec 07, 2019 2:46 pm

this picture is from 1951 - recognize him (before you read the picture title)
BILL VAN BROCKLIN WITH 4-4-2 AT DANVERS 1951 small.jpg
this one from 1939
M. SPANGENBERG'S 2-8-2 NELS 1939 small.jpg
here is one with people in shirt / tie / jacket at the track. Look through the smoke... wearing tie under coveralls...1951
NORM STEELES NH 3101 NELS 1951 small.jpg
Too many things going on to bother listing them.

JohnK
Posts: 233
Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2005 11:13 am
Location: Beverly-by-the-Boston & Maine, MA
Contact:

Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by JohnK » Sat Dec 07, 2019 3:17 pm

Jack, Don's answer is probably as close to the truth as you'll be able to find.

Nobody I've talked to, even people who were there, can confirm the date that it ended. 1958 is probably correct. Lester died in 1962 and for several years prior, his main focus was his 7-1/4" gauge RR around his home/estate in Beverly Mass., as well as a new hobby....antique cars. Also, the Joy Town RR (7-1/4") at the Topsfield Fair took substantial amounts of Lester's attention in the 1950s.

Guys who were there have told me that the Danvers track was painted, not treated....and that it received coats of paint annually. It basically rotted from the inside out. One fellow told me that in the end, "the paint is what was holding it together", and, "nobody wanted to work on it".

The engine house roof from Danvers, went to Pioneer Valley Live Steamers.

You can walk around the property behind the box factory today, and you can still find traces of the roadbed, as well as the embankments (on each side of the river) that went out to the bridge. The bridge abutments and pilings are also still in place in the river. The surface of the roadbed was cinder fill, so there are still plenty of cinders underfoot. Look hard enough, and you can even find pieces of coal that fell off peoples' engines.

-John

steamingdon
Posts: 538
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:21 pm
Location: massachusetts,usa

Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by steamingdon » Sat Dec 07, 2019 6:19 pm

I was just going through some old papers , and found some correspondence from NELS and BLS mid 50`s. Joe Friend(Lester`s Son) was president of NELS @ that time. The letters describe lack of Live Steamers and lack of workers, sound familiar. On a work day in 1955 they had eight fellows to do the jobs of the day. The track and property was already falling into disrepair. Carl Purinton had already been to Toronto and Winnipeg . The letters I have go from 1952-1955. I have been to the NELS property, and yes, it is hallowed ground without a doubt. Driving to these far away places in the 40`s and 50`s would have been quite a challenge.
I would hope someone else will chime in and add to this "History Of Live Steam in the Northeast" Jim Stuart might have attended one of the NELS Meets. Don Hills took pictures of some of the locomotives that I presently own. The names of most of the early LS`s would be engrained @ Danvers, Ma.
In 1955 the NELS had about 65 members. Bill VanBrockin, Harry Sait, Gene Stevens, Norm Steele, Carl Purinton, and many more. This is the time when the Highline engines were @ their best. So many builders it is hard to imagine . Bill VanBrocklin would have been 19 in 1939. Bill passed away in 2000 @ 80 he was a great guy and mentor for many Live Steamers of which I am one. :D :D :D
steamer

User avatar
Bill Shields
Posts: 5677
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2007 4:57 am
Location: Somewhere in the World
Contact:

Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by Bill Shields » Sat Dec 07, 2019 6:46 pm

Jim was a active member there for years until NYCRR started moving him around the country..but unfortunately is no longer around to add to this discussion....but much of what you relate sounds very familiar to what he described.
Too many things going on to bother listing them.

FKreider
Posts: 110
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:44 pm
Location: Sturbridge, MA

Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by FKreider » Sat Dec 07, 2019 7:25 pm

There are lots of great pictures on the North East Live Steamer's History pages for those that are unaware of the site:

http://www.northeastlivesteamers.org/Do ... vers2.html

Does anyone know what happened to the "club hopper cars" ?
1946_1DF.jpg
-Frank K.

User avatar
JBodenmann
Posts: 2975
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2003 1:37 pm
Location: Tehachapi, California

Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by JBodenmann » Sat Dec 07, 2019 8:03 pm

Hello My Friends
Thank you for the info and photos, very cool! That hi line looked like it was quite a run. I'll bet it was challenging for some of the smaller locos.
Jack

User avatar
Bill Shields
Posts: 5677
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2007 4:57 am
Location: Somewhere in the World
Contact:

Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by Bill Shields » Sat Dec 07, 2019 9:18 pm

the only challenge was if you were to fall off the bridge or into the water!
Too many things going on to bother listing them.

JohnK
Posts: 233
Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2005 11:13 am
Location: Beverly-by-the-Boston & Maine, MA
Contact:

Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by JohnK » Sun Dec 08, 2019 8:30 am

JBodenmann wrote:
Sat Dec 07, 2019 8:03 pm
Hello My Friends
Thank you for the info and photos, very cool! That hi line looked like it was quite a run. I'll bet it was challenging for some of the smaller locos.
Jack
Jack, an interesting tidbit about smaller locos is that Charlie Purinton's Pennsylvania 0-4-0 "Jiminy Cricket" held (holds?) the speed record at Danvers.

User avatar
LVRR2095
Posts: 1432
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 6:50 pm
Location: Maine, USA

Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by LVRR2095 » Sun Dec 08, 2019 7:20 pm

The New England Live Steamers had one heck of a trestle too!

Keith Taylor
scan0024 (2).jpg
Tall Trestle at NELS
scan0032 (2).jpg
Danvers
scan0031 (2).jpg
Danvers
scan0025 (2).jpg
Danvers, Carl Purinton and Lester Friend in the background

User avatar
tsph6500
Posts: 1351
Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 3:38 pm
Location: West of Dunvegan, Ontario CANADA
Contact:

Re: NELS Track At The Box Factory

Post by tsph6500 » Mon Dec 09, 2019 1:12 pm

You may enjoy a 16mm film by my grandfather on one of his visits to Danvers.

Best regards,
Jim Leggett

Montreal Live Steamers
www.montreallivesteamers.org

A Founding Member of the Tinkerbell Scale Society - Northern Division
I'm an A.R.S.E. (Association of Railroad Steam Engineers)
Toad Swamp & Punk Hollow Railroad - Head Tycoon
The Juvenile Traction Company - CEO & Apprentice Machinist 3rd Class
White Mountain Central RR - Engineer

Post Reply