SALAMANCA - A time of ''bowler hats and bustle dresses'' can be remembered when one visits the Salamanca Rail Museum.
Salamanca is named for the Marquis Jose de Salamanca of Spain, who financed railroads including what became part of the Erie Railroad that transformed a small town into the railroad hub of Salamanca. People moved to the municipality to work on the railroad. The city was a division point, with repair facilities and thousands employed.
The museum operated as a railroad station from 1912 until the mid-1930s. It then became a storage facility and served as a National Guard Armory before standing idle.
The Salamanca Rail Museum, 170 N. Main St. in Salamanca, allows visitors to experience what it was like when rail was the main means of transportation.
The building was bought in 1980, was vacat and vandalized.
Donations, government funds and volunteer labor brought it back to life. Its rooms are now restored originals or duplicates based on original architecture plans from railroads that served the area including the Erie, Baltimore and Ohio, and Pennsylvania Railroad. The museum houses displays, exhibits railroad memorabilia and art, a gift shop and a sculpture of the Marquis Jose de Salamanca of Spain. It features a restored passenger depot building, built in 1912 by the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad. Artifacts, pictures and video can be seen, allowing visitors to experience what it was like when rail was the main means of transportation, about 90 years ago.
A caboose and box car sit on tracks outside it, which visitors can explore.
What: 'Souper' Summer Folk Festival
When: 5:30 p.m., Thursday
Where: Floating Stage, Bemus Point
Cost: $10 donation to St. Susan Center
Music by Doc and Bill, Bill?Ward and Amanda Barton, Zamira, and Wind River. Selections from a number of soups and a keepsake soup bowl to take home. For more information, call 664-2253, ext. 4, or visit
* 10.2 miles from downtown Jamestown.
What: Blood, Sweat and Tears, with Arturo Sandoval
When: 8:15 p.m., Friday
Where: Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater
Fusing jazz, horns and rock, the Grammy Award-winning artists will take the stage for a night of fun music. For tickets, visit tickets.ciweb.org or call 357-6250.
* 17.1 miles from downtown Jamestown.
What: Midway Park couples' reunion
When: 4 to 7 p.m., Saturday
Where: Midway State Park
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* 13.9 miles from downtown Jamestown.
The museum has undergone repairs to keep it in shape. An arson occurred at the facility in 2007. The fire damaged the main entrance of the museum and burned an oak door. Smoke and soot damage was prevalent, and firefighters kicked in a door that needed repair. Cleaning and repairs totaled about $40,000.
In 2008, the Christian Youth Corp. removed graffiti from the building.
Admission is free, but donations are accepted to the educational facility that is chartered under the state Board of Regents. An annual railroad museum calendar features16 photos and sells for $4. Proceeds benefit museum operations. It can be purchased at the museum gift shop.
For more information, visit the museum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday or noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, or call the museum staff at 945-3133. The museum is located at 170 Main St. in Salamanca. Starting in September, it will be closed on Mondays.
''What made us what we are has to do with the railroads,'' said museum staffer Stan Carlson, who said the museum offers a look at the historical importance of Western New York.
''Almost everybody has somebody in their family who worked on the railroad at one time,' he said. Carlson said, for instance, a visitor from California was on her way to New York City but wanted to stop at the museum. Never having been east of the Mississippi, she thought relatives may have lived around here at one time.
Carlson said he did some research and found out her father went to school in the area and worked on the railroad. He was a foreman on the Erie. He found seven articles and three pictures of him from his time on that job.
''She was delighted," he recalled, adding the woman learned more than she expected.
He likes that part of his job.
''I send people out with photographs of their grandfathers,'' he said.
If not one of the visitors who leaves with those pictures, he said the museum offers ''good, family entertainment.''