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Discussion Starter #1
Several Years ago I asked about Masonic tie in with the railroads. Sine then I've had soem friends in Lodge give me more and more info about how the Freemasons and Railroading were inter-twined. As the interenet is more and more used and moe is documeted online it is interesting to do a web search to see what new history is avaialble from time to time.

Anyhow I'm on a "list" of folks that get a weekly email from a gentleman in our area that compiles a list of what the "local" lodges are doing and sends out the dates times and locations to folks that may be interested in attending. Interestingly enough he does this all without a computer! He is using an older Mail station setup on his TV. 

He recently heard from a gentleman from Ohio that was inquiring about railroad degrees. While I could not contribute to his request for knowledge he did invite me to attend a degree being held in May. I'll cut and paste some of his original letter.

" For many years the Nickel Plate RR in the Buffalo NY area would send down a special train to Conneaut Oh for the "Nickel Plate Nite' .  The Lodges from beyond Cleveland and Cincinnati to Buffalo and beyond would all come and put on their "Railroad Degree".  I was wondering if you knew of any of the Lodges in the area which may still be doing the degree.  Evergreen 222 of Conneaut, OH is still one of the few Lodges doing it, and would like to invite some of the "Empire State" Lodges to attend."

I'm sure that the lodge in Hornell being a major shop on the Erie line at one time had a degree and probably the lodge in Salmanca did too? The lodge currently in Amond, Ny has a neat reproduction lithograph Currier & Ive's style of a steam locomotive all decked out in bunting with prominent square and compasses on it.

I've found reference to a lodge in Australia that was moved 7 or so times in as many years as the railroad progressed  to the interior of the country. 

Pretty neat stuff really!  At times I find myself as interested in the history over the actual modelling!

Anyone else come across this type of thing?

Chas
 

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At times I find myself as interested in the history over the actual modelling!
I can relate to that statement. It's especially gratifying for me to learn about local history, both railroad and non-railroad. Actually searching out the old tunnels in the Santa Cruz Mountains originally bored by the South Pacific Coast in the late 1800's provides a feeling of connection to that history like nothing else can. It's one thing to read about it, and quite another to stand there and touch it. To see the actual size of the hill they were boring through with your own eyes brings home like nothing else the tremendous effort it took.

I really enjoy researching those things I wish to model, and in the end, it leads to better modeling. :)
 

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Chas,

Check your email for a note from me.;)

Tom
 

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Great question! I'd wondered only in passing myself, but now you've piqued my curiosity. I'll ask around... Tracy was a big railroad town way back when, and we have a few lodge members that have lived in this area for most of their lives. I do know that there was a big fraternity presence here around the turn of the century... Masons (of course), Moose, IOOF, etc.
Too bad I'm on the west coast... I would have loved to attend "Nickel Plate Night".
-Jon (a.k.a. Farmer Ted)
 

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Back in the 1980's there was a Santa Fe Masonic Club in L.A. It was quite active at that time, with most if not all of the BIG Brass belonging, along with the working class guys. I was never a member, as I was inactive in my Blue Lodge at the time, but I hung around with the people at work. As years passed, and people got transfered, the Masonic Club was disbanded for lack of participation. I know it had been around for years before I became aware of it. A lot of the guys were also members of the Shriners and a lot of them went to the Police Officers Shrine Club. I know this as I was a guest of my Step Dad at many dinners up at the L.A. Police Academy and saw a lot of Railroaders there. Just a bit of trivia. 
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Guys for the responses! Both in the list and off line too!

I'm planning on going but I do have a conflict. I'll put this degree a bit higher on the list BUT I'm not driving over 2 hours by my self to attend this. I've got a few Bros in lodge interested but we'll see in a few days how this plays out.

Chas
 

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Chas,

Are you  going to York this week?

One of my traveling buddys is waiting on his Dr. to, hopefully,  cleared him for the trip and I am on my 4th day of being sick so our trip is questionable.
I really hate to miss it as a good bunch of guys and some you only see once a year.
With that said, I hope to go and if you do, as well, I look forward to meeting you.

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Tom,
Alas I'll be spending Saturday at the lodge working our annual Euchre tournament. Since I'm still a working stiff (why do they do a show on Friday and Saturday?) there is no way for me to get there Friday. Also it's just a bit too far for a day trip for me right now.

Sorry guys, I won't be making the ECLSTS this year. (sigh)

Chas
 

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Chas,
Last year they began the two day show on Friday and Saturday.
Previously it had been Friday afternoon thru Sunday.
For about 6 or 7 years now, a small group of us takes Friday off our jobs and leaves Quincy, MA on Thursday night and arrives in York on Friday to get into the show early.
This year two of us (the two originators) are sick and the trip is questionable and could be a big let down as it's a loooong year until the next show.  
I still work but have been layed off since Dec. 10th and construction is VERY slow starting this year so may be out for a while yet.
I am a concrete company trucking dispatcher.
I think '08 is going to be a slow year for trains for me.;)

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Tom,
Get well soon and good luck with the job! Seems in this part of the world construction is running opposite the national norm! I can't get a contractor for a few months because they are all so busy. Most won't even return my calls. Still that too will dry up eventually. I only get 2 weeks vacation time at this point with a week family vacation back in February to Disneyworld and a few days here and there I simply do not have the time to take off. Wife's sister is getting married in August and that will eat up some time. We'll be in CT/Mass for that for a few days. That'll use up the rest of my vacation time.

Chas
 

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Discussion Starter #11
A follow up on this as promised!

Saturday morning in Western Ny dawned bright and sunny with the promise of some serious storms as the day progressed. My wife took the girls to dance class and I puttered aobut the house getting some work done that desparately needed doing. At 11 I rolled from ym driveway and went to my lodge to meet with several other brothers who had expressed an interest. We ate lunch at a restaurant just up the street famous for it's Beef on Weck (http://www.beefnbarrel.com/) and after lunch departed in two vehicles (there were 6 of us) for Conneaut Ohio. It was a little over a two hour drive and we made it with no problems although it started to rain on the way out. Our first stop was the Conneaut Railroad Museum where we spent the remainder of the afternoon. They typically do not open until Memorial Day weekend but as many of the volunteers are also Masons we were afforded the opportunity to visit out of season. As my photos are still in the camera and it was raining off and on I've found a few websites with good photos that I'll share. Ev I'll get my photos posted and hope they are halfway decent considering the conditions.
http://www.pbase.com/vbcooke/conneaut
http://nkprr.railfan.net/museumpict/conneaut/
http://www.angelfire.com/sc3/aldershot/conneaut/

Anyhow after some ncie browsing and visiting with many brethren and railroad men, we braved the storm and drove the two blocks to Evergreen Lodge #222 for their Nickel Plate Night. The lodge was a very nice, well kept and cared for two story building with some updates as they had recently added an elevator to the building. We were welcomed very well and after passing our examination & signing the geust book we were admitted to the lodge room. Turns out this was to be a legal degree that night although they did not have a candidate for the degree so we volunteered one of our own to go thru the degree. One of our youngest members he's very busy at work and with a young family he rarely attends lodge on a regular basis, At least not currently. We did the first section of the degree and a few things were changed to make it relative to railroading instead of stone masons but not much. The manner of dress for the evening was casual or railroad gear. I'm ashamed to say that I do not currently own a set of coveralls but I may need to get a set now? The candidate was preppared and dressed in the usual manner except it was in cut off bib overalls. The degee it self was similar to NY degree work but it seemed abbreviated. We finsihed the first section and broke for supper which was put on by the ladies of the Order of the Eastern Star. A typical meal it seemed as the appetizers were similar to what our local chapter serves us when they do a dinner for us. LOL! Tomato juice and crackers! Must be a trademark OES thing? We returned for the second section which is in NY a drama protraying the Death of Hiram Abiff. It is similar in Ohio only for this night they changed it up and all participants were in Coveralls hats and bandanas with white leather work gloves. I was asked to take part in the drama and donned the uniform for the night. At one point I even got to carry a lantern as part of the 12 craftsmen from the Yard. Overall a good night full of much fellowship. There was a District Deputy from the Grand Lodge of Ohio who was present to award two brothers with years of service awards. One for 65 years and another for 50 years. Some interesting stories were told. There were also in attendance about 9 or 10 railroad men from all ages who shared some of their history with us as well. Overall attendance was about 45 men. We had refreshements afterwards and then took to the road for the long drive home. We arrived back at the lodge just before midnight. Still in the rain.

has anyone else found any other references to lodges that did something similar? I fear this is somehting that will eventually go away even in Conneaut as the railroads still pass thru but the presence is not as great as they continue to consolidate their operations elsewhere. It's still a 3 railroad town for now but no shops are located there and the iron ore docks are not needed as mcuh as they once were with the demise of the steel industry in the US.

Thanks for letting me share!

Chas
 
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