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Flour-By-Rail Legacy project looks to bring pieces of Buffalo's heritage to Silo City

GoFundMe.com Flour-by-Rail Legacy Project: Phase I

A Rochester native now living in Buffalo wants to set up a highly-visible display telling the tale of the city's rail heritage. He's currently hosting an online fundraiser to get the first piece fixed and delivered to Silo City.

Charlie Monte Verde explains to WBFO he's in the second generation of a family that has owned rail transportation. Upon moving to Buffalo, he too admired the changes to its waterfront. But he felt there could perhaps be more celebration of its rail heritage.

"It lacked a certain rare element down there that I knew was a part of building, that I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate that aspect of what once made Buffalo grow, make it something that can make it go in the future," he said. "And through various channels, I became aware of CSX Transportation disposing of secondhand equipment that has outlived its useful life. And lo and behold, among that equipment was the unique flour carrying box."

That box car, two others and a locomotive have been identified as desired pieces of the Flour-By-Rail Legacy Project. Monte Verde has applied for not-for-profit status and has launched a GoFundMe campaign for the first phase of the project, restoring and relocating the first rail car.

The cars are in "OK condition," he tells WBFO, and says some sheet metal work will be needed on the cars, which are estimated at 60 to 65 years old.

"Once we have the first car moving, we can immediately get to work on moving in a second car," he said. "We've started doing the research on the first car, on what the paint scheme looked like, what it looked like in the era that we're kind of trying to go after."

The Flour-By-Rail Legacy Project has identified a location, on the grounds of Silo City, in cooperation with its owner Rick Smith. The rail cars are to be relocated to a corner of the grounds overlooking the Buffalo River, where it would be visible by both water and land.

Monte Verde says the story of the Buffalo River includes an era when the harvest of the Midwest was brought to the city, turned into flour and then sent to bakeries along the entire East Coast.

"There's a lot of different stories you can tell with this. And by having these three different boxcars restored, we tell that that's your history. And we talk about how all of that fits into Buffalo."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.