Thursday, January 09, 2014

Unhappy New Year

I was going to write about the CN derailment near Plaster Rock and the subsequent detours, but sadly there is something more important to talk about.

Railway historian, author and activist Jay Underwood passed away yesterday evening (January 8). Jay was ill for quite some time but it was still unexpected to most railfans. This is a huge loss to his family and to the Nova Scotia railway community.

Jay was quite active on the railway mailing lists, despite his near blindness from a sudden illness about 15 years ago. You could always count on him for an accurate answer to many Nova Scotia railway questions, and he was generous in sharing his knowledge through email and also through his many books. In fact he founded his own publishing house, Pennydreadful Publishing, to publish books that traditional publishers wouldn't take. I consider his book Built For War one of the best historical railway books I have.

Jay was the president and most active member of the Nova Scotia Railway Heritage Society. He cared passionately about Nova Scotia's history and heritage and campaigned for a number of causes, including attempting to save Kentville's roundhouse and Elmsdale's station.

I met Jay at least once, at a train show in Dartmouth when he was manning the NSRHS booth. He seemed like a very nice man in person, and he certainly came across that way in email.

My condolences to his wife and family.

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