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David Peters Railroad Collection

Identifier: 2017-0055

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of administrative and financial records, photographs, postcards, correspondence, timetables, broadsides, legal records, publications, and a myriad of other materials related to the history of the railroad in the United States, particularly in New England. Railroads include the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad and its predecessors and successors, including Penn Central and Amtrak.


  • undated, 1832-2017

Biographical / Historical

David Peters was born on March 16, 1932, in Wallingford, Connecticut, and was a resident of this town for his entire life. After he graduated from high school in 1950 he worked as a machinist and counterman for Connecticut Bearing, an automobile parts company. In May 1961 he began working for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, better known as the New Haven Railroad, in the New Haven Truck, Wheel and Air Brake Shop at the Lamberton Street Locomotive Shop in New Haven, Connecticut, specifically as a machinist in the Automated Wheel Shop. In 1963 he began working at the Air Brake Shop of the same facility.

On January 1, 1969, the New Haven Railroad was officially absorbed into Penn Central. Mr. Peters continued his work in the Air Brake Shop, now working on Penn Central cars, until that facility closed in 1974. He then transferred to the Lamberton Street Locomotive Shop and worked as a diesel machinist.

Penn Central went bankrupt on June 21, 1970, and Amtrak was born on May 1, 1971. The old New Haven Railroad Air Brake Shop was reopened and Mr. Peters returned there in 1976, working as an Air Brake Technician for Amtrak. In the late 1980s that facility closed again and Mr. Peters worked at the Lamberton Street Motor Storage facility servicing Amtrak diesel and electric locomotives. He retired from Amtrak on June 5, 1994.

In retirement Mr. Peters and his wife Barbara constructed a railroad museum in the basement and other rooms of their home in Wallingford, and invited visitors far and wide to view the memorabilia, ephemera, photographs and documents he gathered that would have otherwise been discarded by the various railroads he worked for. Mr. Peters extensively shared the collection with researchers who used the materials for projects such as the preservation of old railroad stations and other facilities and when the media or railroad authors or historians needed items for a historical story. Mr. and Mrs. Peters gave presentations to community and school groups and at local railroad museums and historical societies about topics in railroad history.

Also in retirement Mr. Peters volunteered at the Connecticut Trolley Museum, repairing the air brakes on locomotives and cabooses, and at the Valley Railroad in Essex, Connecticut, demonstrating to members of the U.S. Army Reserve railroad operating battalion how to overhaul air brake equipment. In the late 1990s Mr. and Mrs. Peters became active in Operation Lifesaver, a safety program committed to bringing awareness to the general public on issues involving passing over grade crossings and staying off the railroad’s right-of-way.

Mr. and Mrs. Peters married in 1957. They had two sons, David and Jeffrey, and four grandchildren.

David Peters died on April 25, 2020, in Hartford, Connecticut.

For more information about Mr. Peters you can read Dave Peters: Railroader, One Man’s Journey on Three Railroads, written by him with Marc Frattasio, published in 2007 (Lulu Press).


110 Linear Feet (103 boxes and one oversized framed painting)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

All materials in the collection were gathered from the home of David and Barbara Peters in Wallingford, Connecticut, between April and August, 2017.


Published items removed and cataloged in Archives & Special Collections stacks:

Fall River Line Journal, 1928-1933; Two Trains to Remember” by Lucius Beebe (1965); The Gateway to a Continent” the Grand Central Zone; Fish Bones – Hoboing in the 1930’s by Irving L Stevens (1982); Hobo King Rambling Rudy by Rambling Rudy Phillips; Hopping Freight Trains in America by Duffy Littlejohn (1993); Orphan Train Rider – One Boy’s True Story by Andrea Warren (1996); Riding the Rails by Michael Mathers (1973); AMSCAM “All the Amsanity That’s Fit to Print by G Fenton Blisterbuns III, Collector’s Edition (February 1993); Hobo Times Special Edition by National Hobo Association (1987); Hobo Times “Hobo Travel Guide’ by Bobb Hopkins (1988); Hobo Times – America’s Journal of Wanderlust Volumes 6-14 (January 1992 – Spring 2000)

David Peters Railroad Collection
Archives & Special Collections staff
2018 July 21
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US