Thomas T. “Tom” Taber III, 93, of Muncy, Pa., author of numerous railroad books, died Saturday, August 13, 2022 at the Hillside Senior Living Center in Montoursville, Pa.
A life member of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, he had been active in the organization since childhood when he accompanied his father, Thomas T. Taber, also a member of the R&LHS and founding member of the New York Chapter, on many sponsored trips. by the National Railway Historical Society, R&LHS, other railway history organizations. Mr. Taber was honored to receive (along with his father) the 1983 George W. and Constance M. Hilton Book Award given annually by the R&LHS for outstanding work of enduring value in the interpretation of the history of the railroad in North America, for their three-volume history of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad. He received the organization’s Gerald M. Best Senior Achievement Award in 2016 for his longstanding and significant contributions to the writing, preservation, and interpretation of railroad history.
Mr. Taber built up an extensive personal research library and actively assisted scholars and laypersons nationwide interested in learning more about railroad and central Pennsylvania history. He specialized in the history of the company railroads and the logging railroads of the northeastern United States, and with fellow historians Benjamin FG Kline and Walter Casler produced and published in the years 1970 what is considered the definitive Pennsylvania logging railroad series, spanning 14 volumes. . Taber co-wrote, with Casler, Climax: an unusual steam locomotive in 1960, still considered the definitive work on the locomotive type. Pennsylvania Railroad Encyclopedia and Atlas, which details the history of the business and operation of literally every stretch of railway line built in the Commonwealth, as well as railways which were chartered but never built.
Mr. Taber also created the Master Index (also known as the Taber Index) for the R&LHS Bulletin/Railroad History from 1921 to 2009. Although now slightly outdated, Taber’s herculean work is still considered the finest index available to locate information published by the R&LHS over a century. He also produced a four-volume work in 1993, Railroad Historic Resource Guide, United States and Canada, a holdings list guide from various transportation archives across North America, and as was his custom, he distributed over 100 CDs containing the research guide free of charge to various historical societies, libraries, and interested individuals.
Mr. Taber also stepped in to care for the R&LHS artifact collection after the organization ended its agreement with the Edaville Railroad in Massachusetts in 1992. The Library and Archives Artifacts were moved to Mr. Taber’s home town of Muncy, where he arranged to store them. the post office basement. While the collection was in his care, Mr. Taber documented items and, when time permitted, handled reference requests, added additions, and identified and stabilized items requiring preservation. The collection was eventually moved, with some going to the California State Railroad Museum where the R&LHS maintains a library.
Born May 22, 1929 in Madison, NJ, he was the son of the late Thomas II and the late Margaret (Gantt) Taber. He graduated from Madison (NJ) High School in 1947 and a mechanical engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. After a stint in the army, he joined the Worthington Corp. in Wellsville, NY, doing full-time study work. . He moved to Muncy, where from 1959 to 1971 he worked for Sprout-Waldron Co. (now Andritz) as an industrial engineer. Mr. Taber then worked at Cie George E. Logue in Montoursville where he was vice-president until 1980, when he became self-employed. In 1962 Taber married his wife, the former Barbara Wilson, who predeceased him in 2015. He is survived by his son Thomas Taber IV and his wife, Debbie, and grandchildren Thomas V. and Jessica.
Through the influence of his parents, Mr. Taber remained active in the community. He was a member of the Muncy Historical Society, serving on the board for many years and serving as editor of their journal. Additionally, he was president of the Muncy Public Library and a board member of the Muncy Borough Council for 12 years.
The Thomas T. Taber Museum of the Lycoming County Historical Society (Pennsylvania) is named in his honor. In addition to his generosity to the Lycoming County Historical Society, Mr. Taber has licensed the rights to republish these books to various historical societies in the area.