Stolen 1910 Locomotive Weathervane Recovered After 41 Years

A stolen antique copper weathervane depicting a steam locomotive, taken from the White River Junction train station in Vermont in 1983, has been recovered 41 years later at Sotheby's auction house in New York, and returned to its rightful home, where it will be displayed behind glass for safekeeping. The intricately crafted weathervane, featuring a steam engine and coal tender, was originally installed on the train station's roof in circa 1910." This description focuses on the primary topic of the stolen and recovered weathervane, the main entities involved (the weathervane, the train station, and Sotheby's auction house), the context of the theft and recovery, and the significant actions and consequences of the story. It also provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as the weathervane's design and materials.

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Nitish Verma
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Stolen 1910 Locomotive Weathervane Recovered After 41 Years

Stolen 1910 Locomotive Weathervane Recovered After 41 Years

A stolen antique copper weathervane depicting a steam locomotive, taken from the White River Junction train station in Vermont back in 1983, has been miraculously recovered 41 years later at Sotheby's auction house in New York. The intricate weathervane, measuring an impressive 65 inches long, was crafted circa 1910 and features a steam engine pulling a coal tender.

The theft occurred on November 3, 1983, when a railroad worker reported spotting the thieves in the act. Despite a $750 reward offered at the time, equivalent to $2,341 today, the weathervane remained missing for over four decades. The handmade piece boasted intricate details, including wheels, a coal car, a little bell atop the engine, and a small roof.

Judith Ehrlich, a historic preservation officer with the Vermont Agency of Transportation, revealed that Sotheby's vets items consigned for auction through the Arts Loss Register. The weathervane was matched to a stolen item in the register's database, leading to its withdrawal from the auction. It was identified as coming from the estate of Martin Shack, a collector of Americana.

"These things sit on the top of buildings, just on a metal spindle so that they could spin based on what the wind was moving. And they were pretty easy to remove," explained Ehrlich. She added, "It's quite lovely. It's really lovely."

The White River Junction train station, built in 1937, had been a fixture in the community for decades. Byron Hathorn, the former owner of the depot, purchased it from the railroad companies in 1994 before selling it to the state in 2013. Reflecting on the weathervane's disappearance, Hathorn remarked, "We always knew it would show up."

Chris McKinley, a railroad enthusiast who works at the station, recalls reading about the theft in the local paper as a teenager. He believes the thieves, likely railroad workers themselves motivated by tense relations with management, wanted the weathervane as a keepsake. "It was still just like the original," McKinley noted upon seeing the recovered piece.

The weathervane has now been returned to Vermont, nearly 20 years after the station installed a replica with extra security measures. The state plans to display the historic piece behind glass for safekeeping rather than returning it to the building's roof. Sotheby's generously covered the shipping costs to send the 100-pound weathervane, including its container, back to its rightful home.

Key Takeaways

  • A stolen 1910 copper weathervane from White River Junction train station in Vermont was recovered 41 years later.
  • The weathervane, 65 inches long, depicts a steam locomotive and was taken in 1983.
  • It was recovered at Sotheby's auction house in New York through the Arts Loss Register.
  • The weathervane was part of a collector's estate and was identified as stolen from the train station.
  • The historic piece has been returned to Vermont and will be displayed behind glass for safekeeping.