Friday, October 25, 2013

Final Departure For Robert LeMassena

Robert LeMassena photo by Matt Isaacks
Robert LeMassena died on October 1st, 2013, 311 days before his 100th birthday. His published works preserving the history of Colorado's railroads and in particular the Rio Grande forms the cornerstone on which much of my work is based. My library card has a permanent groove in it from repeated loans of Colorado's Mountain Railroads and Rio Grande: To the Pacific!, two of his Sundance books that command top dollar at train shows and book retailers. It's unfortunate that I never had the opportunity to convey my appreciation of his work while he was still with us.

Earlier this month, Nathan Holmes of DRGW.net had this to say,
Bob left us a great deal of his amassed knowledge through his books - the most notable to most Rio Grande fans being "Rio Grande... to the Pacific!" RGTTP is an invaluable piece of work, and is still my go-to reference for the Grande's often convoluted historical timeline.
Holmes also speculated that the Colorado Railroad Museum will have a memorial event of some kind in the near future.

Trains magazine also presented an obituary in its news wire, noting his 35 bylines and numerous stories for the magazine dating from 1963. His lifelong passion for railroads led to many stories, op-ed pieces and industry articles, with much of his work centered on steam locomotive design and operation, which was a natural considering his bachelors degree in mechanical engineering.

Colorado and railroad historians have lost a true "steam buff" in Robert LeMassena. From the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western yard in East Orange, New Jersey in his youth to the high mountain passes and thundering articulated locomotives in the Colorado high country and beyond, his long life was spent in the pursuit of his passion for railroads and the engines that powered them. Few were so lucky as he in this regard. I wish him Godspeed on his final departure.◊

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