Sunday, July 10, 2022

In Memory of Craig Bisgeier

In April, I had posted a picture on Facebook of 79-lb rail made for the NY&NE railroad in 1895:

Craig posted that one day he'd like a chunk of rail to make an anvil. 

Easy enough.

I got a short piece of 131-lb rail from our yard. Of course, AJ (the owner of the CNZR) always has more information about anything railroad related. When I asked if I could take it, he glanced at it, then stood it on its end and asked if I knew the difference between 131 and 132-lb rail. Apparently the 131-lb rail had the tendency to crack or break where the web meets the head, so the 132-lb rail has a different radius fillet between them, adding 1-lb per yard in weight.

I always find this interesting, and I know Craig would too. I didn't tell him I had it, and it stayed in the back of my car until I could surprise him at the NE Proto Meet.

All day Friday I was hoping to see him so I could take him to the car to get the rail, and a few other things, and was looking forward to a day of trains, lunch, dinner, and drinks with him. But I never saw him. It wasn't until Saturday that our friend Jim informed me that Craig had some sort of accident at home, that caused a stroke. He had been in the hospital for a week or more on life support.

What little I knew wasn't promising, but then with my own family's extensive medical history, I was cautiously optimistic that he might pull through.

Unfortunately, I've learned Craig passed away yesterday. 

For now, the rail sits in front of my house as a reminder. I'm not sure if I'll do anything else with it, but it's there.

This story is typical of the relationship between Craig and me. We were always experimenting and learning new things. He had a passion for the process, and for tiny details and esoteric knowledge that I share, and not just on trains. We're both in IT and shared lots of other interests too. While we'd chat periodically, or communicate via email, most of our direct interaction was at train shows where we'd have plenty of time to discuss possibilities for producing new models for us and others.

I first found Craig via his website and sought him out soon after. He lived in NJ and I'm in CT, so it wasn't hard to find him at the NE Proto Meet. We operated Rutland Yard together on the final operating session at RPI. We were constantly discussing his perpetually incomplete software program "Here to There" for producing operations paperwork. Even if the program was never fully operational due to technical issues, delving into the prototype's operational processes and how to convert that into something the computer could emulate was a huge help for both of us in terms of understanding prototypical operations and how they all fit together.

Last February, out of the blue, I got the following message:

I've already related the story of this smokestack here, but I brought the model to the Proto Meet and it was to be the first time he would see the completed model in person.

Aside from the projects, models, and ideas, he was first and foremost a great of example of what I love most about this hobby - the people and the modeling community. 

I'll, no, we'll miss you Craig.

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