Not too long ago I received a call from Engineer Rick Robino of the Livonia, Avon & Lakeville Railroad with the news that Kevin McGarvey, CMO of the LA&L, had passed away.  Kevin started his career on the LA&L as a young man. When I first met him, he was an engineer. Kevin grew up on Long Island. In the early 1970s while a photography student at Rochester Institute of Technology, he became familiar with the LA&L. He spent time on the track gang, in the engine house and anywhere that he could learn more about trains. He fired number 38, the railroad’s Baldwin 2-8-0. Eventually, Kevin became an engineer and drove number 38 on weekend train excursions and during the week moving freight. He also became extremely knowledgeable of the railroad’s Alcos.

    I first saw Kevin McGarvey in the fall of 1974. At the time, I was driving through central New York State with my then girlfriend going nowhere special. Arriving in Lakeville, we spotted smoke rising from behind a building not far away. I turned the corner, and in front of me was a Baldwin 2-8-0 with steam up. Parking the car, I grabbed my camera and took a few shots of the engine.  It belonged to the Livonia Avon & Lakeville RR, and as it was Saturday, they were hauling tourists instead of freight. As I took photos of the Baldwin, Kevin appeared, nodded a hello and busied himself with his work. He climbed up onto the front of the engine, and removed something from the engine’s stack. As he climbed down, I was in a position to grab a shot. I quickly framed the camera, focused and took the photo.

   We talked and Kevin invited me into the cab. I asked if he’d let me do a portrait of him. He said yes, I did the photo, and after a short while we said goodbye. When I developed the film I had an image that was timeless. Taken in 1974, it could have been 1944 or even 1934. I sent a copy to the railroad. In the past few years, I’ve been back a few times.  In 2006, I took another photo of Kevin sitting in one of the railroad’s Alcos. He was a little greyer, a little heavier and wore glasses. It was the last photo that I would take of him. My plans this spring were to spend a few days photographing on the Western New York & Pennsylvania, and on the LA &L RR. Obligations cancelled my spring trip.

   Kevin started and ended his career on the LA&LRR. At the time of his death, he was the railroad’s Chief Mechanical Officer. My sense of Kevin is that he always had the admiration and respect of his crew, the railroad and the wider railroad industry. They and I will miss him, I know, and I extend my sympathy to both his railroad family and his family at home.

This from his cousin George Carley:

As youths in the 60's as you know you had your hobbies. well Kevin was a busy soul. He built models and had a train set in the basement and had created his own little worlds with this Train set and I'm sure his Dad helped a lot in developing his early skillls in building the table and structure framing.

   It was along a wall, in a corner and was quite the train set as we called them back then. I recalled it used kitty litter for track ballast and I believed paper machie for landscape and hills. He augmented this passion with drawings that he had in his bedroom, side profiles of locomotives, pen and inks or pencil line drawings. It really cemented in one's mind that this young man was talented, creative and LIKES TRAINS!

John Fasulo
8 Exeter Circle
Beacon, NY
May 25, 2008
Kevin McGarvey - Railroad Engineer
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