Not everyone can say he has saved 140 years' worth of local history, but Ed Kaminski can. Now the director of the Maywood Station Museum, he spearheaded the effort that rescued the historic rail station and turned it into a showcase for railroad artifacts.
"We had a perfect opportunity to showcase the history of the railroad and of Maywood," Kaminski says.
In 2002, when the old station on Maywood Avenue was threatened, Kaminski contacted its owner, the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway, to discuss a grassroots restoration project. For two years, a group of volunteers coalesced to raise funds, secure grants, rebuild the station and transform it into a museum, which opened on Sept. 25, 2004.
That's quite a change of fortune for the Maywood station, which was built in 1872. Back then, Kaminski says, the station was the hub of transportation and communication for the area – the heart of Maywood, really. But it hasn't been used as a passenger stop since 1966 or as a freight stop for decades, so the building had fallen on hard times.
"Looking back, it was kind of a castaway thing in a lot of people's minds," Kaminski says. "The building was going to be torn down."
Now, though, the Maywood Station Museum holds hundreds of artifacts, from photographs to telegraph machines, and sees about 2,500 visitors during its six or seven annual open houses. The museum also hosts train rides with Santa in December and free outdoor concerts in the summer.
And restoration work continues. In 2005, volunteers acquired and fixed up an old caboose, which now stands on display. Likewise, in 2008, they refurbished a New York, Susquehanna locomotive from the early 1900s, and Kaminski says an old-time railroad semaphore signal might be next.
Kaminski's dedication to the Maywood station is perhaps unsurprising. The Carlstadt native moved to Maywood in 1998 with his wife, Rosemarie, who had lived there most of her life – and he loves trains. He has 22 years of experience in the industry, he works for American Rail Car Leasing, and he has used his Rutgers history degree to write six books on railroad car manufacturers, one on the New York, Susquehanna railroad and another on the Borough of Maywood.
Submit your ideas for "Neighbors" to email@example.com.