Top Left Corner #37: The BSRW “Tinseliner”—Holiday Magic on Rails

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The Hoosac Valley Train Ride, the “Tinseliner,” provides a dose of holiday nostalgia in a form of moving history that enchants all the senses. To help round out the experience, the North County organization, PopCares has set up an old-time Christmas Tree stand complete with a free marshmallow roasting fire and hot chocolate.

Visitors can step back in time as the visit the Hoosac Valley Train Rides' museum car, which also serves as ticket booth and gift shop (photo, Jason Velázquez).

Visitors can step back in time as the visit the Hoosac Valley Train Rides’ museum car, which also serves as ticket booth and gift shop (photo, Jason Velázquez).

Today is Saturday, November 10th 2016, and this is episode #37 of TLC. I’m your host, Jason Velazquez, and I thank you for tuning in.

UPDATE: PopCares has sold out of Christmas Trees for this year, so will not be participating in the Tinseliner experience for the remainder of the year. They report that a supplier has assured them that they will have enough for the 2017 season.

So, I when I received an e-mail from Ricco Fruscio over at the North Adams Chamber about a call for volunteers, I almost hit delete. Honest. I mean, who has time for that this time of year, right? But then I got this sort of nagging feeling when I thought about how, except for this podcast network, I really haven’t been putting in a lot time in service to the community. Not in a show up in person kind of way.

Inside the Hoosac Valley Train Ride ticket, museum, and gift car, a living room has been set up to carry visitors back to Christmas circa 1955 (photo courtesy BSRW).

Inside the Hoosac Valley Train Ride ticket, museum, and gift car, a living room has been set up to carry visitors back to Christmas circa 1955 (photo courtesy BSRW).

So I read the message and saw that the Berkshire Scenic Railway needed to fill all kinds of positions on their holiday Tinseliner Christmas train that’s part of the Hoosac Valley Train Service. I’ve always had a soft spot for trains, anyway, so I got in touch with Jay Green, director of Berkshire Scenic Railway who set me up with a couple of weekend slots helping passengers find their way around.

Once I showed up, I got to talking with the great folks of PopCares, a North County organization that provides financial assistance to local cancer patients to help make their period of medical treatment just a little bit easier.

I knew before my first shift was over that I had to share with you all an idea of the tremendous dedication and heart both these organizations put into making the Northern Berkshire County a more livable, and compassionate, place to live.

Let’s go first to my conversation with Jay Green, President and General Superintendent of the railroad.

 

Well-tended trees, offered by PopCares, await their ride home atop the family Studebaker, station wagon, or minivan. Passengers of the Tinseliner may pick out a tree ahead of their ride and set it aside. No trees on the train! (photo by Jason Velázquez).

Well-tended trees, offered by PopCares, await their ride home atop the family Studebaker, station wagon, or minivan. Passengers of the Tinseliner may pick out a tree ahead of their ride and set it aside. No trees on the train! (photo by Jason Velázquez).

In addition to the nostalgia, and some gorgeous Christmas trees, what you can find on the platform of the Hoosac Branch Line is warmth. Warmth of the bonfire that draws people eager to stave off the chill. Warmth of the free hot chocolate and marshmallows for roasting (they even have professional grade roasting sticks!) But mostly, warmth of the good people of PopCares, a service organization dedicated to keeping the memory of one man’s generosity alive by giving back to people who often need it most. I spoke with Bob St. Pierre of PopCares, whose father succumbed to cancer just a few years ago. Although the non-profit started out with a mostly family based staff, PopCares has steadily grown in impact and community involvement. I spoke with Bob in the in the ticket and museum car of the BSRW during a brief lull in business.

About Hoosac Valley Train Service, Tinseliner operations.

Adams Branch Map Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum’s new Hoosac Valley Service offers fun and educational train rides between North Adams and Adams in the beautiful Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. This new seasonal passenger train service is a collaborative project between BSRM, City of North Adams, Town of Adams, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Hoosac Valley Service is a community and economic development project designed to provide an attractive seasonal tourist transportation link between downtown Adams and North Adams, connecting with the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Adams. A living history exhibit, Hoosac Valley Service will offer fun, entertaining, and educational train rides exploring the rich railroad history of the region and complement the already popular cultural attractions located in the Northern Berkshire area. You can also find them on Facebook.

About the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum Collection

Named by the Boston Globe as one of the “Top 10 Ways to Ride the Rails in New England (2008),” the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization founded in 1984. Its mission is to preserve the history of railroading, particularly in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts. Take a moment to explore our educational exhibits and restorations.

About PopCares (from their website)

PopCares is a non-profit organization helping LOCAL cancer patients in the Northern Berkshire and bordering Southern Vermont towns of Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Florida, Hancock, Lanesboro, New Ashford, North Adams, Savoy, Williamstown, and Windsor, as well as Pownal Vt., Stamford VT, Readsboro VT.

PopCares, Inc. was established in honor and memory of Bill “Pop” St. Pierre who taught us all the importance of sharing small acts of kindness with others on a daily basis.  Pop and his family were fortunate to have the support of each other as well as friends during his battle with cancer.  It is the mission of PopCares Inc to ensure that every person fighting cancer and their caregiver in our local community has the opportunity to benefit from that same level of support. Visit them on Facebook.

 

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