The streetcar at a stop in Steilacoom at the Bair Drug Store will be part of Paul Curtiss’ presentation on railroads and streetcars of the Lakes area.
When Paul Curtiss says he‚Äôs a ‚Äútrain buff‚Äù he really means it and he‚Äôs got the research and writing to prove it. As a result, he’ll lecture on street
Curtiss, became a 1966 transplant to Lakewood as the son of a career US Air Force member stationed at McChord AF Base. Following in his father‚Äôs footsteps, after Curtiss was graduated from Clover Park High School in 1969, he spent the next 39 years in the US Air Force and Air Force Reserve. He retired as a chief master sergeant. After that career he went into the banking world where he is currently employed with the Washington State Employees Credit Union in Lakewood.
But, while growing up and all during his military career, Curtiss studied trains and gathered information about them. He blames his railroad infatuation on his father who was a collector of railroad information and rolling stock from Japan.
While stationed in France, Paul and his brother Keith were tasked by their dad to visit embassies and gather information about railroad systems.¬†They managed to visit at least one car from each of the European countries.‚Ä®‚Ä®With that fascination bred into him, 20 years ago Paul started a list of railroad companies of the world. That list grew to over 20,000 firms. At that point he decided it would be smart to narrow the scope so he started to concentrate on North and South American railroads. Before long that list had grown to over 20,000 railroads. Once more he discovered it was time to narrow the scope more; this time to the State of Washington. That list has grown to 2,294 entries.‚Ä®‚Ä®All this vast material in the lists has been developed into an as yet unpublished book, “No More Bell, Nor Whistles.” It consists of 557 pages of text and another 136 pages of index, 1.9 million characters and 334,309 words. His research has cost him countless hours in the Washington State Archives in Olympia, and in Cheney, Ellensburg and Bellingham where he has researched copies of the original articles of incorporation for many railroads corporations.
Curtiss indicates that there have been many books written about the “big boys;” Northern Pacific, Great Northern, Union Pacific, etc.¬† Rare is the book about the dreams of the lesser known men who built their own railroads. Much more unusual is a book about the 291 railroads built or dreamed about in and through Pierce County.
Curtiss isn‚Äôt done doing railroad research, however. His current project is centered on the street railways of Pierce County.
The railroad fanatic will share his research at the Sept. 16 meeting of the Lakewood Historical Society. It will take place at the Lakewood Library starting at 7 pm. The program is free. Curtiss will concentrate his discussion on¬†the street car companies that operated in the Lakes District¬†in the early 1900’s and will show detailed maps on the routes to include¬†neighborhood stops such as¬†Lochburn, DeKoven, Linwood, and Sherwood.
For additional information, please contact LHS President Becky Huber, e-mail -firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (253)582-8682