It is with deep sadness that I announce the passing of Peter Hansen, on Friday, May 15, 2020, following a short but difficult battle with cancer. For the past several years it has been my privilege to work with Pete, who served with distinction as a member of the Board of Directors of the Lexington Group. Yet his involvement in our organization represented only one of many ways that Pete contributed to the field of railroad history. Most of you are aware of his extraordinary work as the editor of Railroad History, and many Lexington Group members have benefitted from his deft editorial style, his attention to detail, and his insistence on a high-quality, scholarly journal, issue after issue. Pete also served as a tireless champion of railroad history and railroads in general, speaking to a wide variety of audiences, advising museums and historical societies, and writing dozens of articles for Trains and other publications. Following the death of Bill Withuhn, Pete oversaw the completion of American Steam Locomotives: Design and Development 1880-1960. Bill’s final work would have been lost, but thanks to Pete’s dedication it now serves as a lasting tribute to two great historians. And those are of course only a few of Pete’s many accomplishments. Dan Cupper has written a superb overview of Pete’s life and legacy, which you can find on the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society website.
Everyone who has been fortunate to know Pete cherishes their friendship with a truly remarkable individual. Pete was a genuinely nice guy, warm, friendly, self-deprecating, and constantly willing to help others. He was a true mentor, encouraging and praising the work of others, even as he downplayed his own extraordinary efforts. At a time when much of the general public has lost sight of the contributions that the railroads have made to our way of life, Pete always held one objective above all others – to promote an awareness and a love of the people and the trains that were and remain a vital mode of transportation and development. Pete has left us, and we will always miss him, but his extraordinary legacy will live on.
President, Lexington Group, Inc.