How the Glenn Beier photo gallery came to be…

Since becoming involved in John Allen's story, as late as I have, I realize that so many of John's operating crew and friends are like fine wine now.  Researching John Allen's life makes you acutely aware that nearly 50 years has passed since the days of the Gorre & Daphetid and regular operating sessions were held at John Allen's home in Monterey.


Today when reading through stories from the men who knew John so well, I wondered if any of them were approached about the future of their collections or correspondence or perhaps, if I am lucky, any personal photographs taken during the time they were part of this famous layout.


John's story is fascinating in many ways and a book about John's personal history (as well as it can be told now) is long overdue.  These verbal histories are treasures that are about to be gone for good.  Time is simply the perfect enemy of all historians who race to collect what knowledge that can be found from the generations before us.  It can be especially difficult to find the history and preserve items that have a more specialised following such as any famous model railroader's items might as grieving families do not contact museums to inquire about model railroading items, especially old letters or photographs or some small box of fellow model railroaders passes.  Many families simply know nothing of their dad's time in this hobby that may have been enjoyed many years before some were even born.


So here we are now, in the third decade of a new century and I am finding that (even this late in my searching) I am only but a few months behind in salvaging the contents of boxes full of letters and photos from John.  It is not uncommon to find family members who are unsure of what to do with items like these. So boxes of correspondence and old photographs are still being sent to the curb after the old model trains and perhaps some collectable builder’s plates are sold.   For this very reason these incidences have more or less lit a fire under me to check out as many leads as I can.


Glenn Beier's widow Naomi was a pleasant and interesting person.  She did realize there must be some interest in her husband's things and she was glad that I contacted her about the John Allen items.  I discovered that she had a small but well preserved set of medium format negatives and various correspondence with John Allen and of course the original 16MM footage that Glenn himself shot with John, used to make the Sunday River Productions movie.  I had a bit of sticker shock but I knew the film had to be brought into this group at all costs.  I was excited to find this collection and was able to purchase all of it.  I contacted Jeff Witt for some financial help and asked if he would purchase the film itself from me.  Jeff helped make this fantastic acquisition possible with an enthusiastic yes indeed!  The film is in his capable hands and has been digitally preserved for the future.


The images you see on these pages are my contribution to this fantastic internet history project.  And I must say I am proud to now be a small part of this incredible, long standing, historic preservation effort for John.  I am also hopeful that as time goes by and other collectors and fans of John Allen who might find items (especially photographs) will do the same.  I hope they will share what they find, right here, with everyone and continue on with this effort to tell John's great story.