May 2019 Print

Fort Pitt Division


David Matthews, editor. [email protected]

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TCA National News

Jim Burke is Awarded the 2018 TCA President’s Award

“So That You Don’t Find Out by Accident…”

Those were the exact words that came over the phone when current TCA President Rupert Campbell called last August. My first thought was “What’s wrong?” Rupert explained that I had been nominated for and been awarded the 2018 TCA President’s Award for ‘long service’ to TCA. Rupert further explained that after my nomination, Fort Pitt BOD representative George Starz when asked, provided some idea of what I had done. I was to be the second recipient. The first recipient was John Parker of Western Division. John was a great friend of Lou Redman and a great friend of the Fort Pitt Division. John was my mentor in helping me organize our 2004 50thAnniversary Convention. It was further explained that one award was to be made to a living member and one to a deceased member each year. I qualified as ‘living’. Another long-time TCA friend, Chet Holley of Tampa, FL was the posthumous recipient.

The presentation was made at the TCA Museum during the “Wednesday Before York” festivities last October. I thought the Division would be notified and invited to the ceremony, but this did not happen; thus, this article. I invite you to go to the TCA website where you can view two short videos of my remarks at the ceremony: “The Silent Secret of TCA” and “The Benefits of TCA” that I have valued over fifty years. The second is what I think we should tell anyone considering joining TCA.

When that telephone call came, my mind immediately went to remembering all the Fort Pitt members that I worked with over my fifty-one years in TCA.

  • The first officers and Board that helped me put the Fort Pitt Chapter together – write Bylaws, start our meets, begin the History Committee that led to Tinplate Talks, and the Lionel Book Project. This project led to Volume 1 of “Lionel Standard of the World” in 1976 and Volume 2 in 1989. Each one meant hundreds of hours by committee authors and supporters – all who became life-long friends.
  • Chairing over 15 years of Tinplate Talks Committees came next. Recruiting programs, setup, food, cleanup. Many Friday nights of great trains and fun. And more new friends.
  • Then came the Advertising Committee members of the 1972 and 1984 conventions and more new friends.
  • There have been the many collectors that volunteered and helped with my articles for the Quarterly that I now number as friends.
  • Next came four years as Division president which combined with the big one…  
  • The big one being co-chairing the 50thAnniversary TCA National Convention with Lou Redman. 132 volunteers on over a dozen committees over 5 years, they made it happen. And though Lou never lived to experience it, we saluted Lou after its success with “Lou we did it!” Again, many new friends.
  • And on it went to TCA National.

All this means that I need to share the President’s Award with all of you. It is my hope that in some way the Fort Pitt Division can find some credit in this, and that each of you can identify with and feel a part of this award. We all made it happen.  I am forever grateful.  ~Jim Burke

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Calendar of Events

Upcoming Fort Pitt Division Events

  • Saturday, September 21, 2019: Summer Outing: Everett Railroad Steam into the Cove, Hollidaysburg, PA
  • Sunday, September 29, 2019: Fall Fort Pitt Division Train Meet, Syria Shrine Conference Center, Cheswick, PA 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 24, 2019: Holiday Fort Pitt Division Train Meet, Syria Shrine Conference Center, Cheswick 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, January 26, 2020: January Fort Pitt Division Train Meet, Syria Shrine Conference Center, Cheswick 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Fort Pitt Division Activities

2019 Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show: It’s Not a Home without a Train!


2019 marked the 38thyear John DeSantis and his team have produced the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show.  The first show was the opening event at the old convention center. Since then, it has grown to be the largest event each year at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.  This year, 356,00 adults and 43,000 children attended.  There were 1892 exhibits making it the largest home event in America.  While vendors come from thirty states and eleven countries, the focus is on local, family owned businesses.  Only home oriented goods and services are accepted at the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show, while other products such as dietary are turned away.

If you ask John DeSantis, a TCA member since 1975 why model trains are such an important part of the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show, he will tell you, “It’s not a home without a train.”  When Shane Moore, John’s grandson, was seven years old, he was invited to a playdate at a friend’s house. After playing for a while, Shane said, “Let’s go see your trains.”  There was an awkward silence; the young boy did not have trains. 

In the early years of the Home and Garden Show, the Pittsburgh Garden Railway Society displayed trains in the garden area. The first year of Fort Pitt Division involvement was 2005.  Following the 2004 TCA National Convention, John, asked Sam Merando, then Kids Club Co-Chairman and his wife, Jayne if they would set up a display at the show to which they immediately agreed.  Sam states, “The Home & Garden Show affords us an opportunity to promote our organization and promote our hobby. The opportunity, the footprint is unmatched. We could not afford to do this anywhere else.  I see the kids playing with Geo tracks, watching the trains, blowing the whistle, there it is.”  Tom Garrity, current Fort Pitt Division Kids Club Chairman has been displaying at the Home and Garden Show for ten years.  When asked why he eagerly anticipates the Home Show each year he says, “It’s an opportunity to share our passion of trains with 400,000 people. We get to talk with really nice people, many about the trains their families had.”  The Fort Pitt Hi-Railers have been displaying at the Home and Garden Show since 2009.  Dan Glover, Division President and member of the Hi-Railers has been involved for six years.  For him, it is a tradition to which he looks forward.  “It is our biggest venue, an area where we can share a big layout and share the hobby with potentially new members.”


John DeSantis and his team spend eighteen months preparing for the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show.  During the show, they are actually six months into planning for the next year.  With regard to model trains, John adds, “Parents are looking for things they can do with their children as they attend the show and the train displays fit seamlessly with our Children’s Village.”   The Kids Club and Hi-Railers begin planning for the following year immediately after the show ends.  New volunteers are definitely needed and welcome.  Perhaps 2020 is the year you plan to be involved!

March 10, 2019 TCA Fort Pitt Division Meet

Syria Shrine Conference Center, Cheswick


Layout provided by the Pittsburgh Garden Railroaders





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Community Service

H.J. Heinz III VAMC Needs Your Help

Terry Hudon, a Fort Pitt Division member since 1988 has been working as a volunteer at H.J. Heinz III Veterans Administration Medical Center for more than a year.

In January, Terry’s work required him to go to building #71, a building where he had previously never been.  Upon entering the rotunda, he noticed track for a train layout around a stairwell but was unable to determine if the layout was being setup or taken down.  There was a sign which read, brought to you by the American Legion and the Carpenters Union.  Intrigued, Terry left a note saying that he would love to help with whatever was needed. 

A couple of weeks had passed with no response when Terry was again called to building #71 but this time, he noticed some boxes and jackets.  Soon Ed Connell, American Legion Representative appeared with George McKee.  Terry introduced himself and explained that he was a member of the TCA and asked what they might need.  Both Ed and George were delighted for the help.  “When I got home,”Terry exclaimed,  “I contacted some TCA friends, and set the wheels in motion for donations. Everyone has been uber supportive and I'm really thankful for all my TCA buds who stepped up to donate.”  


H.J. Heinz III VAMC Layout Background

Ed Connell, American Legion VAVS Representative provides the following background information.

The project began over 25 years ago.  At the urging of therapist, Jim Cristelli, the men and women at the Veterans Administration Hospital were encouraged to participate in making ceramic houses and buildings as part of their therapy.  The patients’ response was enthusiastic leading Cristelli to propose a model railroad to display their work.  Beginning with donated trains and scenery on 4x8 sheet of plywood, over time the display grew to six sheets!

Then came hospital remodeling and renovations and the layout went into storage. Through numerous relocations, items were misplaced or lost.  Many times, Mr. Connell requested that the display be brought back to show how ceramic therapy has helped veterans.  Finally, with the assistance of the Keystone + Mountain + Lakes Regional Council of Carpenters, a new train platform has been built in building #71 around a staircase leading to the second floor.

Fort Pitt Division Members can help.

Mr. Connell says that the VA has some train equipment to get started but much is still needed.  Specifically, he is requesting O/O27 rolling stock and scenery items. FasTrack is also needed to replace old tubular track.  Monetary donations can also be made to American Legion VAVS Special Fund and mark in the memo space, TRAINS.  Contributions may be sent to      

Ed Connell, AL VAVS Representative


31 Cobb Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15205-2001

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In Memorium

Bob Hazlett

  Photo caption: Bob (l to r) is smiling with myself and Newt Derby, TCA/Texas, as we depart on the narrow gauge Vale of Reihdol RWY in Wales – still England’s smallest passenger-carrying component of British Railways. And it’s steam hauled.   

With the passing of Bob Hazlett, the Fort Pitt Division and TCA lost a most dedicated supporter and worker.  Bob supported the Division for over four decades as Division President, Division Secretary for ten years and organizer of more than one Fort Pitt Summer Outing. When Fort Pitt hosted the 50thAnniversary TCA National Convention in Pittsburgh, Bob spent five-years as Convention Secretary, participated on the steering committee and hosted tours of his 0 gauge layout, collection and garden railroad, which he repeated for our 2017 convention. It was Bob who I turned to after the 2004 Convention when I wanted to preserve the Convention profits for the Division’s long-term needs. Bob developed the concept that resulted in our Division’s Redman Fraley Fund. It has been the Redman Fraley that helped fund the Division host the 2017 TCA National Convention. It was our Redman Fraley Fund that provided the TCA National Toy Train Library with a computer work station, large format scanner and a large format printer. For TCA, Bob also stepped up to chair the multi-year effort to update and rewrite the National Bylaws and Rules & Regulations and start the TCA Endowment Fund – three very large tasks.

Dedicated Pirate, Steeler and Penguin fan, rabid West Virginia football and basketball fan, he considered it a good day when he could take in any two the same day. Before I knew Bob, he had also coached youth hockey and wrestling at Bethany College. A graduate of Cornell University, Bob’s career was in finance; and he is credited with modernizing the banking laws for the State of West Virginia. Bob is survived by wife Maggie, 4 brothers, 5 children, 5 step-children and 23 grandchildren.

I will always remember Bob as a great friend, travel planner and companion on our four trips to England, France and Germany chasing steam trains. On one those trips I learned a great lesson from Bob. “Any time is a great time for ice cream.” God Speed Dear Bob.

~Jim Burke

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Tin Plate Talks

Linda Barnicott - Waiting for You Under the Kaufmann’s Clock

Many of us in the Fort Pitt Division are familiar with the MTH Christmas boxcars adorned with Linda Barnicott’s Pittsburgh scenes but few of us know the artist. 


As a child raised in Eddington, Pennsylvania, Linda was always fascinated with people’s faces.  On the first day of 2ndgrade, a teacher came in the room that Linda thought was beautiful, so she drew a picture of her in her notebook. Throughout her school years, she drew pictures of teachers and students.  In 6thgrade, a female student had been bullying her, even bloodying her nose.  Desperate, Linda drew a picture of the girl which stopped the bullying, at least for a while. 

In high school, Linda was a member of the orchestra.  During her junior year, there was an exchange concert with Bethel Park High School in Pittsburgh.  While in the city, the students from Linda’s school toured various local sites, including the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning.  When they returned to Bethel Park to prepare for the concert, she noticed a tall guy setting the stage for the performance.  Linda gathered the courage to introduce herself and she and Tom quickly became friends.

Two years past before Tom and Linda reconnected. Their new relationship began with daily telephone conversations and two visits to her home.  For their third rendezvous, she came to Pittsburgh and he took her to Kennywood.  That evening, as they stood on the bridge over the pond, she could sense Tom had something on his mind but seemed unable say.  The next evening, they were at the airport and Linda was preparing to fly back home.  As the last boarding call for her flight was announced, Tom proposed.  Needless to say, it was a giddy flight home.

Several years later, Linda was working at a gallery in Pittsburgh doing portraits.  One day as she worked, someone asked her if she could paint a street car.  Having specialized in portraits, she did not feel confident with perspective, so she sought guidance from a neighbor who was a graphic artist.  Now energized, Linda felt prepared to tackle a new challenge, painting buildings. Her first choice was one that was very familiar to her, Kaufmann’s, because it was the location of her bus stop and the place in Pittsburgh where everyone met.  At a signing event a gentleman remarked that the painting reminded him of his mother.  With tears in his eyes, he described a trip to downtown with her.  She told him he could explore the area while she shopped, but that he had to be back to meet her under Kaufmann’s clock.  Linda’s career of painting of Pittsburgh landmarks had begun.  Choosing places that were memorable to her, the Cathedral of Learning and Kennywood soon followed. 

In 1998, the American Cancer Society contacted Linda about prints for Christmas cards.  Over the next seventeen years, more than $750,000 was raised from the sale of her cards. Rob Pratt, a local radio personality and model train enthusiast had been promoting Linda’s work for the American Cancer Society.  It was probably Rob who brought her work to the attention of MTH.  Rich Foster of MTH contacted Linda in August of 2002 saying,

“I just received the package of your cards yesterday and I apologize for rushing this, but I feel it would work and don’t want to miss the holiday window.”  He continued, “In looking at your other work, I can see several more opportunities to do more products…These products are a sort of collector or commemorative item in our market, and to some degree, a little outside our market. I feel they will be seen as very good quality…”

That year, the first MTH Christmas boxcar with Linda’s art work, Hornes Christmas tree was released.

Special Offer on Pittsburgh Christmas Boxcar

Drawn by a joyful holiday spirit, families and friends will follow an age-old tradition and come to downtown Pittsburgh to see it sparkle. Joseph Horne's Department Store held a special attraction beyond its beautifully decorated windows of golds, reds and greens. Its impressive tree adorns the corner of Stanwix Street and Penn Avenue, shimmering with seasonal lights, awakening memories of holidays past and the excitement of holidays to come.

Perhaps no image captures the spirit of Christmas in Pittsburgh as the spectacular lighted tree on the Horne's Building. MTH is proud to offer a limited Pittsburgh Holiday Boxcar bearing the painting appropriately called, "A Holiday Tradition" by renowned Pittsburgh area artist, Linda Barnicott. 

Waiting for You Under the Kaufmann’s Clock” came next and there are six MTH Christmas box cars bearing Linda’s Pittsburgh scene artwork including Find the Christmas Spirit in Pittsburgh, Seasons Greetings from Pittsburgh’s Station Square, Pittsburgh’s Holiday Homecoming and Southside Sparkles: Christmas in Pittsburgh’s Historic Southside   In addition, there is a car featuring the Dips at West View Park.


Linda is proud to say that she has displayed at the Pittsburgh Home and Garden for 25 years. She was the first to participate in the show exclusively as an artist rather than representing a gallery.  It was at the Home and Garden Show that John DeSantis introduced George Starz and Chris DiCianna, the 2017 TCA National Convention chairmen to Linda.  Convention prizes were discussed and Rick Baugh, Fort Pitt Division publicity chairman followed up with a visit to Linda’s home.  The result was her painting, “All Aboard with Santa” of which 50 prints were made to be used as convention prizes plus a larger print to be used at the banquet auction.


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Fort Pitt Division Summer Outing

TCA Fort Pitt Division 2019 Summer Outing

Everett Railroad Steam into the Cove Reservation

September 21, 2019

A three-hour excursion departing from the Hollidaysburg Depot at 1:00 p.m. and traveling through Morrison’s Cove to Martinsburg, PA.


Name _______________________________________ TCA number _________________


Phone number _______________________ Email address _________________________

                                                                                                  Number          Total

Paid Ft. Pitt Division Member(s) and one guest @ $30 per person: ______ x $30   _______


Additional non-member guests @ $45 per person*                        ______ x $45  _______

*Parties of more than 2 bus riders must pay a bus fee of $15 for each additional person.

This includes children and adults.                             

Total amount enclosed by check payable to TCA Fort Pitt Division: $_______________


Transportation: Lenzner Coach, air conditioned w/restroom facilities                        


First Pickup: McCandless-Blazier Drive Park & Ride, McCandless Twp.             9:30 a.m.

Second Pick up: Park & Ride across from Beulah Presbyterian Church –

McCrady Rd @ Beulah Rd, Churchill                                                              10:00 a.m.

Please choose your method of transportation:

_____________ McCandless Park & Ride                  Number of riders           ___________

_____________Churchill Park & Ride                       Number of riders           ___________

Drivers:  You are welcome to drive to Hollidaysburg. If you choose to drive, please meet us by 12:30 p.m. at the Hollidaysburg Depot, 244 Loop Road, Hollidaysburg, PA 16648.  

                                                                             Number in your car       ___________

Approximate Pittsburgh return time: 6:30. The Everett Railroad has a snack bar at the depot but does not offer meals. Please pack a bag lunch which you may enjoy on the train car.

Join your fellow Fort Pitt Division friends for a day of fun and friendship.  Don’t delay! Last year, the 56-passenger bus filled up quickly.

Please make your check payable to TCA Fort Pitt Division and return to David Matthews by June 1. 

David Matthews, Summer Outing Chair

1445 Bower Hill Road

Pittsburgh, PA 15243

QUESTIONS? Call OR email David Matthews: (412) 779-0418;  [email protected]

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