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President's Message
By Jim Shea

From "Bedford Depot News," Volume 9, Issue 2

November 12, 2002, was a watershed moment in the history of Depot Park. That day, contractors began the site work. Seeing this prompted a burst of satisfaction -- the kind you're entitled to feel after waiting seven years for something important to happen. Next, my mind drifted to the prospect of slowing down a little, particularly over the winter season when construction would be suspended. This would be a time to turn attention to other things, I thought, to have less responsibility, maybe even to goof off a little!

Any illusions of the latter abruptly vanished on the morning of December 19. At 7:24 the phone rang. On the other end of the line was Bill Crawford, chairman of the selection committee for the H. Albert Webb Railroad Preservation Award. "Good news," he started -- and the rest you now know. FBDP was chosen for a $10,000 grant to re-establish a piece of narrow-gauge track in Bedford. This is fabulous, I thought -- but what am I getting me and the rest of us into now? I say this today with a grin, of course!

The upcoming project flows naturally from the successful Billerica & Bedford Railroad 125th anniversary last September. The wherewithal to go forward with it comes from you and all the folks who so appreciated that event. I remember how visitors stayed until the bitter end on Sunday to have that final ride. Many smiling faces are vividly recalled, too -- like the young woman who made her way through the crowd to reach me. "I heard the whistle and had to find it," she explained. "It sounds so beautiful. It makes me feel like I'm in the country."

I remember another special moment. The afternoon following the celebration's end, a dad and his young son sat in the rain beside the still-warm engine. The child was upset about the train's impending exodus. They lingered there for quite a while, exchanging memories of their shared experiences that weekend. They'd be delighted to know that a repeat performance might be possible.

So, I think the challenges and work that lie ahead are worthy of our best efforts. This track segment -- both as an interpretive display and perhaps for future "live steam" runs conducted by the Maine Narrow-Gauge Railroad -- will be a lasting asset for the community and rail historians everywhere.

I emphasize the word everywhere. Through the years, sometimes to my surprise, I've learned that interest in the B&B is not confined to the local area. It exists worldwide. Yet, this fact did not fully prepare me for the deluge of correspondence that followed the grant announcement. We've received messages from people in several states and even across the Atlantic. All have expressed enthusiasm, support and often, assistance for the project. These are essential ingredients for a successful outcome.

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