Salamanca Rail Museum to raffle off quilt featuring city’s railroad era

Photos of Salamanca’s railroad era are featured on a quilt donated by Sally Marsh to benefit the Salamanca Rail Museum.

SALAMANCA, N.Y. — The Salamanca Rail Museum is currently holding a quilt raffle to benefit the ongoing restoration of the facility, to lay down track for a future excursion train and other upcoming projects.

Raffle tickets are 3 for $5, and the drawing is planned for Labor Day weekend. People need not be present to win.

Museum Director Jaré Cardinal said the quilt raffle was made possible through the generosity of Sally Marsh, who grew up in Salamanca and now lives in Randolph.

She said Marsh, a volunteer supporter of the rail museum, contacted them in late spring and said she would like to have a quilt made that would feature photographs of Stan Carlson’s railroad-themed paintings, along with some photos from the museum’s collections.

Thinking it was a great idea, Cardinal suggested that Marsh approach Carlson who used to volunteer to keep the museum open and now serves as the museum’s official historian. She visited him at his home and selected about 20 photographs from the many he has taken of his paintings over the years.

Cardinal said the other dozen images came from the museum’s collection. She tried to make the photos diverse and selected those with more human interest, rather than just locomotives and train stations in a setting alone.

Among the featured photos she selected for the quilt are one of the Seneca workers who were section hands, a picture of women whose job was cleaning the interior of the rail cars and a group of men on the Seneca track crew.

“Cleaning the interior of the rail cars was one of the main jobs women could get on the railroad back in the early 1900s,” Cardinal said. “After awhile they became clerks and typists, but cleaning was sort of like the opening for women on the railroads before WWII.”

Cardinal said one of the photo images is of Engine 152 from the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway (BR&P), which was the last BR&P engine still in existence, that she knows of. She said it was used in the East Salamanca yard but, more importantly, up in the Buffalo yard. She believes the man in the photo with Engine 152 might very well be Hawley Pierce, but she would like somebody to confirm his identity.

“Hawley Pierce, who was a member of the Seneca Nation, drove that engine,” she said. “He grew up in Cattaraugus Territory then he and his brother, Bemus, went to the Carlisle Indian School, in Pennsylvania, and played football with Jim Thorpe. Hawley got his certificate in Boilers from Carlisle. When he came back after college, he lived in Kill Buck and the BR&P hired him as a fireman.”

According to Cardinal, a fireman is the person that stands in the engine and loads the coal to help the engineer. She said that’s how Pierce learned to be an engineer.

“To become an engineer, you had to first be a fireman. By 1913, Hawley had passed all the tests and requirements, and they made him an engineer,” she said. “He was the first Native American engineer in the United States.”

Marsh has helped out other community organizations with the quilts she has donated for their fundraisers. She provided two quilts to the Kill Buck community for their first picnic last summer, and, more recently, had one made for the Memorial Library of Little Valley and Firemen’s benefit that is set for Sept. 7.

“I’m just glad to help whenever I can,” she said. “I honestly just hope we sell a lot of tickets.”

A lot of the museum’s volunteers are board members. Cardinal said they’re currently doing a volunteer restoration paint job that takes place the last weekend of each month. So far, they’ve finished the outside of the Baltimore and Ohio caboose this year, with a few details left to do. She said they’re also going to paint the Pennsylvania caboose car.

“Board member Chris Costello has also been working on his troop car, getting one side painted for everyone to see,” she said. “The business car will come in the future, but we have to upgrade the wheels so it can come on its own on the tracks. It was too high to come on a truck because it wouldn’t fit under the underpasses.”

Cardinal said the East Salamanca Station is still standing, but it’s in poor shape. The museum board is hoping that once they complete the projects they want to do at the rail museum, there might be an opportunity to do a study on that station and possibly restore it.

“When this is all done, the museum will be more or less of a complex,” she said.

For more details, call the museum at 945-3133. To donate to the museum by mail, send a check or cash to Salamanca Rail Museum, 170 North Main St., Salamanca, N.Y. 14779. Cardinal said they will write out an acknowledgement that the money was received and they’ll add it to the funds.

(Contact reporter Deb Everts at

(Contact reporter Deb Everts at