Smoke Signals Honors Tom Oversluizen
By John Mehrling
2009 is the 43rd Anniversary of Long Island Live Steamers. Incredible! This longevity is the result of the tremendous amount of work from hundreds of members through all those years. But there is one member of the club who has been at the very center of our club since the beginning - Tom Oversluizen.
Back in 1966 Ted Fishman wrote a letter to the British magazine, "Model Engineer," for assistance in a reconstruction project. Tom Oversluizen was one of the first to respond. As it turned out, they both worked (in different departments) at Brookhaven National Laboratory. A number of other people also responded to that article and after several gatherings, 8 of them decided to form a railroading club. Tom and the others began looking for a site on which to build a track. The search led them to a new park being created along the Carmen's River on an old estate.
Tom was born in Holland. At that time there were small local railroads that moved local produce from village to village, powered by little "Dummy" steam locomotives. Steam locomotives fascinated Tom. During the war years these little trains operated with a single crewman. But when the train arrived in Tom's village, he would help the trainman with all the chores, even firing and driving the locomotive. By the time Tom arrived in this country during ihe 1950's, he had already built a 5" gauge operating steam locomotive. So when Tom met Ted Fishman, he was already a seasoned builder and operator of steam locomotives.
When that intrepid group came out here to the newly created Southaven Park, they found only scrub trees and underbrush - but those men saw a place to create 2 railroads (a
High line and a Ground line). Continued Next Page - Click Here.