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How I Got a Free Pass to Tussauds Wax Museum
Posted by Ted Sheppard on September 9, 2010 at 11:57 AM.

Ted SheppardAnyone who has ever worked for a big company will understand this story.  Anyone who has been a project manager knows that there is more to running a project than schedules, costs, safety, quality, etc.


I was the Resident Engineer for Bethlehem Steel on the Niagara Arch Bridge between Queenston, Ontario, and Lewiston, N.Y. The Canadian side of the bridge was mostly in a part of the Niagara Falls Park Commission’s jurisdiction. The park was operated by Major Grey, a wonderful person. We had our office trailer in the park, and across the road we had built a cabin to house the Engineer of Record who was overseeing the construction of the bridge for the Bridge Commission.


Near the end of our operations on the Canadian side, a man stopped at our trailer and introduced himself as the owner/manager of Louis Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Niagara Falls, Ontario. He asked what we were going to do with the cabin across the road. I told him that we would be tearing it down and scrapping the materials. He said that he had some property on Lake Ontario and that the cabin would be just right for his use on the beach. He offered to buy it from us.


I thought that this would be a great idea, but I also thought that if he just took it off our hands, that would be perfect. I called my office in Pittsburgh to ask about the ins and outs of transferring the cabin to this man. This was my mistake. Our man in Pittsburgh called the home office. That was his mistake.


This started a series of phone calls. How was the cabin going to be moved? The response was that a regular experienced house-mover would do it and the police would escort the truck and trailer. Then there was the insurance issue. My man in Niagara Falls said that he would have his insurance agent call our home office insurance department and obtain whatever coverage that was required. Then Bethlehem asked the question of putting the grounds back in good order for the Park Commission. My man replied that Major Grey was a friend and the two of them would work out that issue. I knew Major Grey, and I knew that if he was on board, things would go right. I reported this to Pittsburgh. It was then reported to Bethlehem. There were no further questions, so I thought it was all set.


I went on a week’s vacation. When I came back, the cabin was being dismantled by ironworkers.  We also had to pay Major Grey to fix up the property to look like park grounds again. I called Pittsburgh and was told that after all was said and done, the home office was not comfortable with the arrangement. I called the museum to apologize for all of the phone calls that led to nothing. The manager said that he understood what had happened and that he appreciated my help in trying to get him the cabin. The next day in the mail there was a card that was a lifetime free pass to the museum. My wife and I used it once before the job was over, and we have not been back to Niagara Falls since then. I still have that pass to the museum. I am not sure that it is still there.


The message here seems to be that you should not try to save money on jobs that are really run from the home office. However, the message I got was to not make the first phone call.



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P.S.: Tussaud’s is still there in Niagara Falls, now under the ownership of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! For a little brush up on Tussaud’s, click here.


For two other posts about this project, see Thunder in the Gorge (Aug 10, 2010) and The Commercial (Aug 19, 2010).


To see photos of the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, from, including a stunning construction shot (c. 1962) click here.

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