TO ALL SC-ERA MEMBERS AND OTHERS INTERESTED IN THE MUSEUM PROJECT
By Lazear Israel, Secretary-Treasurer, SC-ERA
(NOTE: The opinion expressed herein are purely those of the writer and may or may not coincide with the official views of SC-ERA or it its equipment committee.)
The equipment committee’s decision with regard to disposition of the Birney safety car owned by SC-ERA should not be interpreted as an abandonment of SC-ERA’s museum project. To the contrary, this action is being taken in order to safeguard the remainder of the project.
At the time the bids on these cars were submitted, there was little hope that our bid would be successful in obtaining these cars, suitable arrangements could be made for the transportation of one car to Los Angeles and that, if we were successful in obtaining more than one of these cars, the extra car could be resold to other interested groups at a price sufficient to cover not only the cost of the cars resold but also a substantial part of the transportation cost of the car to be brought to Los Angeles. The bids submitted were so low that it did not seem likely for us to lose in this venture.
Subsequent developments have forced a change in this original optimistic outlook.
The freight rate for shipping one Birney car to Los Angeles proved to be so high that, even were we able to raise sufficient money to cover this expense, it would leave us nothing for other cars or for other phases of the project, at least for the foreseeable future.
Thus, were we to attempt to bring this car to Los Angeles, we would be expending all of our resources for the preservation of a car which (a) never ran in Los Angeles, (b) although of type which played a significant part in the history of street railways of this nation is of relatively little interest to most SC-ERA members, and (c)
may be in poor condition. Furthermore, in connection with item (b) above, similar cars have been and are being saved by several railfan groups elsewhere.
Recent developments have indicated that it may yet be possible to bring this car to Los Angeles for permanent preservation, although not as the property of SC-ERA. This would involve donation of the car to the City of Los Angeles, who would add it to the Travel Town museum. If this can not be done, another railfan group may want to purchase the car. In any event, SC-ERA will have been instrumental in the permanent preservation of at lease three FT. Collins Birneys.
With regard to SC-ERA museum project in general, we must understand that we are at a great disadvantage in comparison with other museum projects in the East and Mid-West. The railfan museums in New England, for example, are located within a few hours’ traveling time of most, if not all, of several states, including such populous cities as Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. SC-ERA, on the other hand, is within such easy reach of only a few of the Southern California counties.
As a result, we are in a less advantageous position in obtaining financial support, as well as in our search for cars, materials for use in the museum project, and a suitable location for the museum.
Also, we are at a disadvantage in that most other railfan museum projects had their start, or their period of greatest development, immediately after World War II when many of their members, just out of military service, had unusually large sums of money accumulated.
Due to the various factors outlined above, it is quite unlikely that SC-ERA’s museum project will ever reach the same size as any of several others, but let’s do the best we can.