RGM&HS Founder & Former Trustee Dr. Charles V. Mutchler Dies In Car Crash
Saturday - March 23, 2019
With great sadness the RGM&HS learned that one of our founders, long time friend and fellow railroad historian Dr. Charles V. Mutschler passed away in a tragic 3-car accident in Four Lakes, Washington on March 11th. Charlie was 63 years old, just a few years short of retirement. Funeral service were held on March 15, in Cheney, Washington at the Emmanuel Lutheran Church.
Charlie was a Professor and Archivist at Eastern Washington University for many decades, and lately the interim Dean of Librarians. Eastern Washington University also held a memorial service on, March 23 at Showalter Auditorium on campus.A life member of the Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation, and the National Model Railroad Association Charlie had a great affinity for trains particularly the narrow gauge railways of Colorado where he grew up. He authored two railroad books include:
His love affair with the D&RGW narrow gauge goes back to his childhood. He and his parents lived along the west side of the Animas Valley, at approximate-ly MP 461.7 for several years, before moving to Boulder in 1964. His parents humored his childish interest in the railroad in many ways including annual trips on the Silverton and fre-quent visits to the Durango yards when his father had business in town. The real clincher was the trip on a Rocky Mountain RR Club spe-cial from Durango to Alamosa for his 6th birthday in the spring of 1961.In the 1968-69 school year Charlie learned something about practical politics and historic preservation by helping gather signatures to petition the state legislature of Colorado to appropriate money to buy what is now the Cumbres & Toltec Sce-nic RR. He has been a rabid D&RGW; narrow gauge enthusiast ever since.
- Spokane’s Street Railways: An Illustrated History
- Wired for Success: The Butte Anaconda & Pacific Railway
Charlie was a well versed dedicated historian and he was also an excellent modeler. He was very vocal about having a D&RGW society as RGM&HS Treasurer Frank Keller re-called. “He was a champion of getting us motivated to start the society”. Frank de-scribed how early on there were many stumbling block setting up the society. While there had been a predecessor to our society they had never delivered on their promise to preserve the Denver & Rio Grande. Unfortunately most folks in those early days took a wait and see attitude. The Society eventually did got its feet under itself as Frank described. “Certainly Char-lie was one of the factors that helped us through that mine field in those early days helping us draw members. He played a significant role in getting things started both financially and investing a significant amount of time to this organization.” As things progressed Charlie became less involved with the day to day operations of the RGMHS but always remained a member. In recent times Charlie Mutschler's friends described him as a true community servant. He worked hard to promote and preserve Cheney's history. And that includes being part of an effort to save the historic Northern Pacific Railroad Depot from being torn down.Jeff Bollinger remembered his long-time friend Mutschler as he stood in front of the boarded-up old train station in Cheney, WA. Mutschler helped his stepson Ben on an Eagle Scout project to raise money to preserve the depot."Charlie was like the great uncle you always wish you had. He always wore a suit and he always had a great story and a great smile and it made doing Ben's Eagle project so much more fun. It's such a blow when you think life goes on without someone you care so much about," Bollinger said.He will be missed.