Robert A. LaMay Papers
Scope and Content Note
The Papers consists of timetables, guides, brochures, pamphlets, and many other published items collected by Connecticut resident Robert A. LaMay throughout his lifetime to support his interest in railroad history, particularly the railroads of southern New England and along the east coast of the United States from the mid-20th century to the present. These railroads include the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, Penn Central, Conrail, Amtrak, Metro-North Commuter Railroad, and Shore Line East (Connecticut). The Papers also include thousands of photographic prints, 33mm slides and 35 mm negatives of railroad locomotives, cars and other scenes, all taken by Mr. LaMay.
Series I: Papers, consists of timetables, brochures, guides, booklets, pamphlets and manuals, baggage tags, travel guides, employee timetables, operating manuals, general orders, maps, rules books, publications, decals, stock certificates, photographic prints, annual reports, newsletters, bumper stickers, constitutions and by-laws, directory of railway officers, passenger car diagrams, magazine articles, booklets and brochures, articles, operator manuals, magazines, notes, postcards, track and structure plans, and rosters, focuses on railroad in the Northeast United States, particularly in Connecticut and other nearby states.
Series II: Photographic prints, color 35 mm slides and 35 mm negatives, include thousands of images of locomotives and trains. The main focus is on trains that ran and run in Connecticut, including the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, Penn Central, Amtrak, Metro-North Railroad and Shore Line East but include many others photographed by Mr. LaMay on his travels in the United States and in Canada. There are many photographs of FL9 locomotives, a particular interest of Mr. LaMay's and taken in preparation for the book he coauthored with Joseph Snopek, Diesels to Park Avenue, the FL9 Story.
Within the boxes of binders of the slides Mr. LaMay has provided meticulous lists of the images he took, and some descriptive information is on each slide. Most of the photographic prints are individually sleeved (sometimes more than one print in an envelope) with detailed descriptions on each sleeve, including the railroad, the date and location it was taken, the locomotive's numbers, and other identifying information including special circumstances of a particular event or location. The 35mm negatives have a description on the envelopes.
There are two projects represented in the digital files: Mr. LaMay's photographing the renovations to the Niantic River Bridge, and of the building and service of CTrail - The Hartford Line. Links to these projects are provided in this finding aid to the images in the UConn Library digital repository.
- Creation: undated, 1883-2019
The collection is open and available for research.
Restrictions on Use and Copyright Information
Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from both the University of Connecticut Libraries and the owner(s) of the copyright.
Robert Albert LaMay (Bob) was born on August 22, 1941, in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Roderick A. and Francis (Farley) LaMay. He was raised in Burlington, Vermont, and Rocky Hill, Connecticut. After his father's death in 1952 he moved to Amston, Connecticut, and he graduated from RHAM High School in 1960. He graduated with an associate's degree from Burdett Business College in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1962 with a major in accounting and took business classes at the University of Hartford in Hartford, Connecticut, while working at Aetna Life and Casualty as an Internal Auditor, and also lived in Hartford, Connecticut, at this time. He later earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Hartford in 1967.
Mr. LaMay worked for the CPA firm Whittlesey and Hadley in Hartford, Connecticut, and then as controller of Dufour Transportation Services. He worked at various financial analyst and accountant positions with Pratt and Whitney Aircraft in East Hartford and North Haven, Connecticut. Beginning in 1995 he served as a pre-audit accountant and asset manager with the City of Hartford. He retired in 2007.
In 1964 Mr. LaMay married Barbara Sebastian; they have two children, Gregory and Pamela. The family moved from Hartford to Amston in 1967 where Mr. and Mrs. LaMay currently reside.
Mr. LaMay has had a lifelong interest in railroads and began photographing trains in the 1950s. He is the co-author, with the late Joseph Snopek, of Diesels to Park Avenue, the FL9 Story, published in 1997 by New England Rails Publishing Company of Granby, Massachusetts.
Mr. LaMay is a founding member of the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum in Willimantic, Connecticut, serving in several positions including public relations and historical research and as editor of the museum’s monthly newsletter, The Ghost Train Journal. He also is a frequent speaker, presenting his photographs, about railroad history to historical groups throughout Connecticut.
Within this finding aid researchers will find explanations, written by Mr. LaMay, of the significance or history of some railroad lines and motive power to aid the layman in understanding their context.
Description of Special Olympic Trains, by Robert A. LaMay
From July 1-9, 1995, Connecticut hosted the 9th Annual Special Olympic Summer World games. These were held primarily in New Haven, Connecticut. However, certain venues were held at New London and Old Lyme, Connecticut. During the event more than 7,000 athletes from 143 countries gathered to compete in 21 different summer sporting events. As part of the program special trains from the Connecticut Department of Transportation operated between New Haven and New London. The trains were met at New London by school buses which transported the athletes to New London and Old Lyme.
Robert A. LaMay was given advance schedules of the trains so he could take photographs at various locations along the route. Both color photos and 35mm color slides were taken of the trains at various locations. Please check the Shore Line East color photographs and color slides in this collection for these images.
Information about the Connecticut Southern Railroad, by Robert A. LaMay
When the Connecticut Southern (CSOR) purchased the GE B23-7's from Conrail they never removed the Conrail markings. Later on in the collection you will see when the CSOR designed their own logo for use on their locomotives. This was short lived. When they purchased their larger GE units from a leasing company they simply put in large red letters 'CSOR' on both sides of the locomotives.
Information about CDOT FL9s, by Robert A. LaMay
On January 1, 1983, Conrail exited from the commuter rail business. Metro-North Commuter Railroad (now called Metro-North Railroad) took over all of Conrail's commuter operations out of New York City to the northwest, north, and northeast. As the same time the State of Connecticut Department of Transportation set up an Office of Rail Operations located in New Haven. The State purchased four FL9 locomotives which were in pretty sad condition. As part of a special project these four FL9 locomotives were rebuilt at Silvis, Illinois, and returned in 1987 sporting the famous McGinnis New Haven Railroad paint scheme. From this point on ConnDot or CDOT (Connecticut Department of Transportation) has shown some sort of NHRR influence in the paint schemes on all CDOT locomotives. The CDOT owned locomotives were primarily purchased to cover operations within the State of Connecticut, particularly the Waterbury and Danbury branches. The problem initially faced was where were these CDOT FL9s going to be serviced? With the majority of the FL9 fleet turned over to Metro-North as part of the Conrail agreement it would make sense to have then serviced at Harmon, New York. So whenever the CDOT FL9s needed service and or repair work they would be cycled through the former New York Central Railroad shops at Harmon, New York. As a result of this the NHRR-painted FL9 CDOT-owned units could be seen anywhere on the Metro-North system. Metro-North operated and serviced the CDOT-owned FL9s; they never became part of the Metro-North fleet. A note of interest: In 1993 CDOT purchased another six FL9 locomotives from Metro-North and these were remanufactured by Boise Locomotive Works at Boise, Idaho. These too would eventually be cycled through the shops at Harmon, New York, whenever service was needed. All six of these are currently sitting near the current Shore Line East shops at New Haven, Connecticut.
Description of the SPV2000, by Robert A. LaMay
SPV2000 = Self Propelled Vehicle to serve to the year 2000. They are self-propelled railroad cars that carry people over short distances where a regular train would be too expensive to operate. Today these would be called DMU's (Diesel-Multiple-Units)
The Budd Company produced a Rail Diesel Car (RDC) commonly called the Budd Car. In the period 1949-1962 the Budd Company produced just under 400 rail diesel cars. They were primarily used on lighter travelled lines and over shorter routes and were much more economical to operate.
In the late 1970s Budd wanted to bring back a newer version of the famed 'Budd' Car. A prototype was built and in 1980 this prototype toured the eastern half of the United States in hopes of garnering sales. Only four operators purchased them -- Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) for Amtrak Service purchased thirteen, Metro-North Commuter Railroad purchased ten, U.S. Department of Transportation purchased one, and Morrocco purchased three for the King. Plus there were an additional three units built in case some one else wanted to purchase them (these were later scrapped). At just over one million dollars each and with fuel prices very high the market was very tight.
Both Metro-North and the CDOT cars were proving less reliable in cold weather. The new name dubbed the SPV which now stood for 'Seldom Powered Vehicle'. The Metro-North cars were sent back to Budd and the errors were corrected. However, the CDOT cars were not sent back and as time progressed the problems worsened. The CDOT cars were eventually removed from service and stored at New Haven, Connecticut. It was finally decided to have the CDOT cars rebuilt into coaches and cab cars. The cars were rebuilt into eight modern powerless passenger cars, three cab cars, and an office/passenger cab car. This proved to be an excellent choice and the cars were used in the commuter service along the Connecticut shoreline. Even though these cars had all the power plants removed the cars did see service into the year 2000 and beyond. The cars were removed from service in 2006 and are currently stored in New Haven, Connecticut.
17.8 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Robert A. LaMay is a collector of railroad publications and memorabilia and a photographer of railroad locomotives and scenes, particularly those of southern New England and the New York City area. His papers include timetables, guides, brochures, and other items collected by Mr. LaMay as well as photographic prints, slides and negatives of railroad images taken by him of locomotives and scenes associated with the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, Penn Central, Conrail, Amtrak, Metro-North Commuter Railroad, Shore Line East and other railroad lines in the United States.
Provenance and Acquisition
All materials in the Papers were donated directly from Robert A. LaMay, beginning in 2002 with occasional additions up to the present.
Existence and Location of Copies
Digital reproductions of materials in this collection may also be found in the Archives & Special Collections digital repository
General Physical Description note
17.8 linear feet.
- Robert A. LaMay Papers
- Archives & Special Collections staff
- 2013 November
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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