Streetcars, Steamboats & Railroads oh my!

Crestwood's Calvert to speak at Train Festival

By Patricia Michael
Oldham Co. Historical Society

James Calvert is a living treasure trove of historical information collected with love and devotion and communicated with energy, grace, wit and charm. Calvert has pursued his interests in the history of streetcars, steamboats, the railroads, the Interurban, and theater and church organs throughout his life. Not only has he accumulated vast amounts of information, he has organized that information to make it accessible, understandable and
interesting to others.

James Calvert

Photo by Laraine Staples

James Calvert will present
two slide-illustrated programs
at the Oldham County History
Center: "The History of the L&N
Railroad" on Oct. 7, and "The
Interuban" on Oct. 21. Both
programs are at 7 p.m.

In addition to historical nformation, he also shares his extraordinary skills as a craftsman. He has produced a working layout at his home, showcasing his large collection of model trains in several different scales. He also made the beautiful working model of the Interurban car and overhead wiring apparatus on exhibit in the museum of the Oldham County History Center in La Grange. This truly was a labor of love; Calvert spent hundreds and hundreds of hours building the car for the exhibit and donated his considerable time, talent and expertise to ensure an authentic working model. Calvert, a Louisville native now a resident of Crestwood in Oldham County,
cannot remember a time in his life when he was not interested in trains, and especially in streetcars. Growing up in South Louisville, he learned to identify the different streetcars from their sound alone. "When I was playing in the backyard", he told me, "I would hear a car pass the house in front and I would know whether or not it was the No. 28" - an incredible feat for an adult, much less a child.
Calvert and his wife, Jan, moved to Oldham County in 1979; Mrs. Calvert was then an elementary school teacher. She is now a librarian at the Mahan Library of the Oldham County Public Library and the organist at North Oldham Baptist Church.
Jim is a member of the Illinois Railway Museum and is certified to run the full-sized Car #1374 around the streetcar loop at that museum in Union, Illinois (about 30 miles east of Rockford). He is an avid collector of model and toy trains and railroad memorabilia. He is also a fount of knowledge about steamboats, theater and church organs and the history of downtown Louisville - information which he will share with History Center audiences on
future occasions.
In addition to his work at the Oldham County History Center, Jim is a volunteer at the Filson Club, the University of Louisville Special Collections (working in the photo archives) and the Howard Steamboat Museum and Collection. He is also a docent for the Cathedral Heritage Foundation.
Around the turn of the century, the President of the Natural Science Association of Staten Island, New York was asked how the organization was able to continue to do its excellent work. His answer was simple: "This Association is the real thing" he said. "It has done serious work of quality...and everything has been done for the love of it."
We are extremely fortunate to have Jim Calvert here in Oldham County. He always does serious work of quality for the love of it, and he shares that work - and that enthusiasm - readily and generously.

• James Calvert will present two slide-illustrated programs at the Oldham County History Center on October 7 on "The History of the L&N Railroad" and October 21 on "The Interurban". Both programs are at 7 p.m.

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