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Bound For The Rail Museum -Preservationists Dismantle The Botsford Water Tower



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Bound For The Rail Museum –

Preservationists Dismantle The Botsford Water Tower

By Jan Howard

A plan to dismantle the Botsford water tower, located on property owned by Wickes Lumber on Swamp Road, and rebuild it in the railroad yard at the Danbury Railway Museum is one step closer to fruition.

 Early in the morning of July 1, Paul Inzanti, owner of International Wood Tanks, and some of his employees began disassembling the tank, stave by stave. The roof of the tank was removed in May by members of the museum, with the help of a crane donated by Mariano Brothers of Danbury and operated by John Bagley.

Ira Pollack, a member of the Railway Museum’s Board of Directors, and other museum members stood and watched Saturday as staves were removed from the tank and lowered to the ground where they were tied together for their ultimate transport to the Railway Museum on White Street in Danbury.

“I am 99 percent sure this is the last water tower in Connecticut and one of the few left on the East Coast,” Mr Pollack said. “We’re trying to get funding to have the company build it again in Danbury.

“It will be an attraction,” he said, part of a static display that will include a steam engine the museum recently acquired. Plans are to reconstruct the water tower near the museum’s turntable.

The Railway Museum has launched a five-year project to bring the steam engine back into operation. “There is a fund drive going on,” Mr Pollack said.

In October 1999, the museum received the go-ahead from Wickes to remove the water tower. Planning for the project then began in earnest.

The Danbury Railway Museum is dedicated to preserving railroad memorabilia and facilities related to Connecticut or Danbury.

Museum volunteers had planned to do all the work at the tower site, but Mr Pollack said he was able to have some funding appropriated to have the tower professionally dismantled.

“It was a safety factor,” he noted. “I’ve never done anything this big before.”

The removal of the tower’s roof began on April 26 when Mr Pollack, Gerry Herrmann, and Harry Burke climbed up inside the 40-foot tower with tin snips to remove the pipe hangers that held the roof down. On April 28, with the help of the crane, the roof was lifted from the structure and placed on cement blocks on the ground beside it, where it remains until it can be transported to Danbury. The 26-foot diameter roof has been cut in half because it is too large to transport in one piece over the highway.

Each section of the water tower must be identified so it can be accurately reassembled later in Danbury. Once the entire tower is dismantled and moved to Danbury, the museum must receive permits from Danbury to reconstruct it.

The water tower, which is 24 feet in diameter, was probably built between 1916 and 1918 to replace a prior tower. It once held 250,000 gallons of water, and steam engines on the Housatonic Line filled up there.

The Botsford Depot was part of the Housatonic Line that was constructed to connect Bridgeport with Albany and points west. The first passenger train on the line made the trip from New Milford to Bridgeport on February 14, 1840. The line was the third of its kind in the state.

In the beginning, Botsford was only a stopping place at a road crossing. Later, it became a junction where the New Haven and Derby branch, the Maybrook Line, joined the Housatonic.

The Botsford Depot was used until just after World War II. The abandoned station burned down in the 1980s.

The Danbury Train museum has 40 pieces of railroad equipment on display, and its collection is constantly growing.

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