By Phyllis McGuire
Special to iBerkshires
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Some boys never grow up, Brian A. Donelson freely admits when talking about his passion for trains and model railroads.
“It was in 1946 that I got a Lionel train for Christmas from my parents,” said Donelson. Asked if he still has that train, he replied, “Sure do!”
From his Shelburne Falls childhood, he “knew the ‘Hoot, Toot and Whistle Railroad,'” using the local nickname for the long-defunct Hoosac Tunnel and Wilmington Railroad.
Now 70, the railroad buff is hoping to share some of his love for trains with “The Coming of the Train,” the first in a two-volume set on the history and importance of rail in the region.
About 10 years ago, his concern that the history of the railroad was being forgotten sparked an interest in gathering information that he could share with historical societies — and anyone else who would appreciate the knowledge. As he became immersed in extensive research, however, the seeds of “The Coming of the Train” was planted in his mind.
“I wanted it to be more than a railroad book. In order to convey the importance of the Hoosac Tunnel and Wilmington Railroad, its impact on the industries and the people of the upper Deerfield River Valley needed to be understood,” Donelson writes in the book’s foreword.