B&O; Railroad Museum officials had no idea that Adele Gutman Nathan, who died at age 96 in 1986, stipulated in her will that part of her estate be given to their institution. She wanted to ensure the preservation of her railroad artifacts collection and other materials, as well as to finance the B&O;'s new exhibit, "America's Great Road."
Long active in theater, Mrs. Nathan was a founder of the Vagabond Players and directed the Fair of the Iron Horse, the B&O;'s elaborate outdoor centennial pageant staged in Halethorpe in the fall of 1927. The spectacle included 700 people, 31 trains and 68 animals. She worked out of a caboose.
"Her gift was totally unexpected. She also left us all her scrapbooks and fresh, clean copies of the beautiful posters printed for the fair," says museum official Shawn Cunningham.
Her estate left approximately $300,000 to the museum. Yale University was also remembered in the will.
Mrs. Nathan, a Goucher College graduate, was the author of several children's books, including "Famous Railroad Stations of the World." Throughout her life she remained interested in railroading and staged other historical pageants.
She had lived most of her life in a New York hotel, but had cousins in Baltimore. Her family had been connected with the old Joel Gutman department store on Eutaw Street immediately south of Lexington Market.